Audacity in Action: Gojo Accommodation and Temporary Shelter for Patients

A local community-based, non-profit organization that aims to improve lack of accommodations to patients traveling from outside of Addis Ababa for healthcare services, Gojo is a haven for those who are desperately in need of a place to stay and emotional support.  It provides free bed and breakfast for patients during their medical follow-ups, lunch three days a week and transportation allowance for patients to return home.  The focus is to minimize suffering and discomfort of patients and relatives that come seeking medical attention by proving a temporary shelter, food, water, and cleaning facilities.

Why Gojo is Needed

Because of inadequate health facilities in Ethiopia, the rural population migrates in droves to the capital where the already comprised healthcare system and facilities are overburdened.

Looking at the state of health services through the lens of the Sustainable Developmental Goals for the WHO African Region, there are six dimensions of outcomes to gauge the current state of healthcare service.  Although Ethiopia scores higher than the regional average, there are pain points to improve healthcare service outcomes.  Service accessibility plays a pivotal role. One of the major elements to maintain and improve healthy life expectancy is the level of access to essential health services. Based on the WHO index of access to essential services amongst countries in the African region, on average, are only able to assure 32% of the potentially possible access to essential services.

Community initiatives are working to improve the equity to healthcare service delivery within the context of access and affordability.  Gojo is one innovative approach to solving an age-old problem for the medical community.

This organization was created out of the sheer need to solve an existing, prominent problem prevalent in all the public healthcare facilities in Addis. All the well-equipped and well-staffed healthcare facilities are located in the capital, hence there is an influx of patients from out-of-town seeking medical attention, most who cannot afford their stay in the city.  As a result, hospitals like The Black Lion, Yekatit, Gandhi, Zewditu, are overcrowded and patients resort to sleeping in the hospital hallways.

Such a phenomenon was a common occurrence observed by the medical staff working at the hospitals that most doctors and nurses helped out-of-town patients by giving them money from their own pockets for accommodations.  Eventually, though, it becomes overwhelming for individuals, causing them to completely stop.  But for one altruistic person, Dr. Selamenesh Tsige Legas, who first experienced the dire need of patients while she was interning at the surgical department of Yekatit Asra-Hulet Hospital, the journey just started.

Selamnesh was led to come up with an innovative and permanent solution at an institutional level, Gojo.  She had the support of her husband and close friends to do the preliminary research to find out how widespread the need of patients was at the local referral hospitals.  To their surprise, there was an overwhelming need for shelter.  On average, 75 people in one hospital need accommodation and lack the financial ability.  This propelled them to write a proposal with strong support from the medical director at Black Lion Hospital and president of Addis Ababa University at the time.  They also received support from the Ministry of Health, allowing them to register with the Ethiopian Charities and Societies Agency as an NGO at the end of 2014.

Gojo has been operational for the last five years, serving over 76,000 patients.  It operates under the CSO law of the land consisting of 15 members of the General Assembly and seven Board of Directors, volunteering by taking up different roles within the organization.  The facility for Gojo was built by in-kind and monetary contributions from the volunteer founders, friends and family and local altruistic companies that believed in the cause.  While it took some time to construct the facility, Selamnesh and her band of committed friends set-up a temporary soup kitchen to feed the out-of-town patients on hospital grounds out of urgency.

The facility is two levels with 52 beds, accommodating on average 70 patients per week. They accept patients that come with the Social Service admittance form from hospitals in the city, allowing them to identify the most needy.  Funding for the facility comes in multiple forms such as in-kind sponsorship from large companies, monetary donations from individuals and most importantly volunteers providing and serving food for patients.  Gojo have over 200 volunteers, two paid organizers and one security officer managing the daily operations. Both coordinators happen to be former patients that have stayed at Gojo and intimately understand the value of having such service.

In addition to donations, Gojo also has membership fees of 100 Birr per month as a source of income, currently with 294 members. They aim to increase their membership base so they can have a stable income. The team is lobbying for Addis Ababa University employees totaling 3,500 to become members.

The plan for Gojo includes expansion, being able to provide service to more patients increasing their number 500 per week, and secure a self-sustaining income. The team has already put in a request with Addis Ababa Health Bureau requesting a plot to build a bigger facility next to St. Paul Hospital. The 15 volunteer members who are committed and dedicated to the vision of Gojo will diligently work to make sure their expansion goals are met.

At the annual Women of Excellence celebration, Selamenesh, the founder of Gojo, was the 2019 titleholder.  The Association of Women in Boldness holds the event, WOE, bringing hard-working women—community leaders—to the limelight. These exceptional individuals strive to achieve and excel.  We tell their extraordinary stories and honor them during the gala dinner every October.  After nominations from the public, AWiB meticulously selects finalists, external judges following to determine the titleholder.  AWiB takes great pride recognizing these Women of Excellence, introducing them to the public at large and increasing the heroes of our nation, creating role models for young women.

We promote Gojo and ask YOU to support this incredible project.  It is located inside Teklehaimanot health center beside Gola Michael church.  For anyone looking for a cause to support or volunteer opportunities with companies with an impact, Gojo would be the right choice.  Members can join at 100 Birr a month, directly helping one person’s meals for four days.

Reach Gojo at +251 910101401, +251 911817673, +251 983310517,,

Facebook: /gojoethiopia

Twitter: @DrTsige

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