Image From High and Far Ethiopia Tour and Travel


Bahir-Dar and Cleveland

-By Ezra Ellenbogen

Bahir-Dar, Ethiopia is rapidly developing to be the cultural and economic center of the Amhara region. The city is situated on the beautiful Lake Tana and is one of the most populated cities in the country. Bahir-Dar’s urbanization has brought a lot of attention and tourism to it.[1] Bahir-Dar and Cleveland are two very similar cities and two very friendly sister cities. Moreover, Ohio has a significant Ethiopian population and Ethiopia was the first African nation to be represented in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.[2]

Bahir-Dar sits atop the beautiful Lake Tana, similar to how Cleveland sits atop Lake Erie. The city itself is rapidly urbanizing and handling its situation very well with the introduction of infrastructure and sanitation among other things, hence its Honorable Mention for the UNESCO Cities for Peace Prize in 2002.[3] From markets and prolific universities to ancient monasteries and the Blue Nile waterfalls, Bahir-Dar has many attractions, making the city increasingly popular with tourists.[4] Like Cleveland, it has a  rich culture and growing urbanization, which is why the two cities were twinned in 2004 under Mayor Jane Campbell.[5]

As Bahir-Dar is growing quickly, so are the contributions of Ethiopians to Cleveland and vice versa. In Cleveland, there is currently the ongoing construction of the Ethiopian Cultural Garden, which will include the only monument of its kind in the world as a representation of Ethiopia’s history and culture.[6] Further, the Ethiopian population has gained a larger presence with the help of the Menelik Hall Foundation, which is working to help assimilate Ethiopians into Cleveland, by providing school and medical equipment.[7] Cleveland is working to help develop Bahir-Dar by contributions to their medical system. At the 2019 Inaugural Sister Cities Conference, Bahir-Dar delegates learned a lot from Cleveland’s Emergency Medical Services Program.[8] Kibret Abebe Tuffa, a notable Ethiopian entrepreneur, is establishing private ambulance services in Ethiopia and worked with Cleveland’s EMS representatives to learn on how to improve his systems.

Kibret Tuffa’s work will certainly be beneficial to helping diminish the transportation troubles that most people confront when they seek medical assistance in Bahir-Dar. There have been many difficulties for those needing to go to a hospital in northwestern Ethiopia, and one of the main factors in delayed treatment is inefficient ambulance transportation. In fact, a study conducted by Worku Awoke and Kenie Seleshi in Bahir-Dar that included over 400 expectant mothers found that 31.7% of them had difficulties with medical transportation.[9] Kibret himself has seen how many die because of troubles involving transportation to medical centers from when he worked as a nurse anesthetist in Addis Ababa.[10] Based on his experiences there, he asked, “How can we wait for a victim to come to us without any life-saving measure rather than going out to assist [them]?” Now, as the founder of Tebita Ambulance Pre-Hospital Emergency Medical Service, the first private ambulance service in Ethiopia, he is working to make ambulance services available to many and to save lives in the process. People like him are working to better the world one step at a time, and Cleveland is proud to have been able to help.

Ezra’s blog: One Page Stories