Keep Fendika Grooving

Fendika Cultural Center is the most vibrant grassroots arts organization in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the leadership of our beloved Melaku Belay. Before COVID-19, Fendika presents traditional Azmari musicians daily, several full concerts a week (Ethiocolor, Negarit, Kayn Lab, Funk Disciples), and Melaku sharing his golden Ethiopian vinyls each Friday night. These concerts draw music lovers from Ethiopia and around the world. The house is always full! 

48053088_1589410922543519_r.jpegFendika's work is dynamic and multidisciplinary. Our art gallery exhibits works by Ethiopian artists, free of cost to them. And we host the most popular poetry open-mic sessions in town on a monthly basis. 

All of these activities came to a halt, when COVID-19 hit Ethiopia. We closed our door in the interest of public health on March 16th, a few days before the government ordered a shut-down for all performance venues. Our international tours in 2020 have been cancelled: Tokyo World Music Festival in celebration of the Olympic (April), multiple tours in Europe (May-July), and a month-long U.S.A. tour (September).

48053088_1589410995890354_r.jpegIn addition to the 40 band musicians who perform and/or tour with us regularly, Fendika supports 33 salaried employees: Azmari musicians, dancers, waiters, security staff, cashiers, and cleaners. Seven of them live in Fendika. In normal times, the Azmari musicians and dancers also earn tips from customers. 

For the moment, due to COVID-19, we have no income at all, as our earnings came from international tours, entrance fees, and food/beverage sales during concerts. The Ethiopian government provides no assistance to small businesses and workers. Ethiopia's economy is suffering, with particularly harsh impact on small enterprises in art/culture and tourist sections such as Fendika. 

Many venues in Addis Ababa stopped paying salaries to employees. Melaku, however, feels strongly about continuing to support our musicians, dancers, and workers, "because they have families and children. And they are my family," said Melaku. The spirit of family is what makes Fendika a special place. The Fendika family needs your help. 

We hope you have enjoyed our Fendika Live Friday Series  on YouTube. We installed wifi to stream concerts, because we want to stay connected with you - our friends in Ethiopia and around the world. We want to share our love and positive energy in this difficult time. 

In response to these concerts, many of you have asked us about ways to support Fendika. This campaign is the place for you to help us pay for the following Fendika expenses in the next two months:

1. Basic survival salaries for 33 employees of Fendika 

2. Fendika Live concert production costs
- artist fees for musicians and dancers who perform during Fendika Live concerts
- payment for the camera crew for us to stream high-quality programs
- transportation costs for artists and camera crew to travel to and from Fendika (They all need to travel by private, contracted cars, as public transit is becoming too risky.)
- monthly wifi cost so we can keep streaming music and other programs

Ideally, we need the funds by May 30th, so we can pay our workers and artists, who have worked hard for Fendika Live programs this past month. We need your help, so that we can keep making music, so that our employees and artists can feed their families, so that Fendika can survive COVID-19. We look forward to the day when we can greet you in our beautiful space! Music, dance, tej, areki, good laughs, deep conversations... They will all be ours again!

Please give what you can. Your support means the world to us! We appreciate your love for Fendika, and  will return the love with the best music, dance, and art to feed your soul. When COVID-19 passes, please come back to Fendika, and share a special toast with Melaku by the bonfire. To Fendika! To life! 

A special message from Melaku: “I miss you all! Until we meet again, I send you my love and wish all the best for you and your families!"

Organizers' note: This fundraiser is organized by Thomas Eusterbrock  and Hui Wilcox , on behalf of Fendika Cultural Center. Thomas is a pediatrician in Oakland, CA, who volunteers in Ethiopia, and Hui is a Sociology professor (St. Paul, MN) doing research on Ethiopian dance. They have benefited tremendously from Fendika's work and have been in close collaboration with the Center for a few years. Your donation will be deposited into Thomas Eusterbrock's bank account, and Thomas will wire the the sum to Fendika Cultural Center.

Please contact us if you have questions:

Thomas Eusterbrock: [email redacted]
Hui Wilcox: [email redacted]
Melaku Belay: [email redacted]
Fendika staff: [email redacted]

For more information: 

Website    YouTube    Facebook   Fendika Stories  

We are especially proud of our new blog Fendika Stories , where you find snapshots of our past and present, and accounts of soul-stirring Fendika encounters. 

Please donate and share with your friends and grow the Fendika Family!

Thank you!

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  • Ken Vandermark 
    • $7 
    • 2 mos
  • Eileen Mougeot 
    • $250 
    • 5 mos
  • Michael Brown 
    • $100 
    • 5 mos
  • Linus Eusterbrock 
    • $30 
    • 5 mos
  • Michael Brown 
    • $50 
    • 7 mos
See all

Fundraising team: Friends of Fendika (2)

Thomas Eusterbrock 
Organizer
Berkeley, CA
Hui Wilcox 
Team member
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