Wow! It is hard to believe that it is our last day out in Ethiopia – we don’t think the realisation has hit us that we will be on a plane flying back to the UK tonight. This last week has been extremely busy; organising celebration events for each of the centres to recognise all their hard work over the 6 weeks. Each celebration was very different but they all shared one thing in common – the kindness and feelings of warmth and appreciation from everyone we have worked with was amazing.

We started the celebrations with a ceremony at ENAID on Tuesday. In the morning, we ran our final teacher workshop with 10 special need teachers. Following this, we ate our final shiro and injera together before all gathering outside to award certificates and present a handbook that we have made. There was music playing and the adults that attend the centre were all dancing and singing, buna was being drunk and it was a lovely atmosphere. The centre is such a beautiful place to be and it was very hard to say goodbye! The handbook is something we have written for every centre. It includes information about music therapy, covers all of the activities we have done over the 6 weeks and gives advice on tips for running sessions and future work. Each one is personalised to suit the centres needs. On Wednesday, we travelled to Gefersa to say our goodbyes there. It was an equally lovely celebration with more buna and certificate presentations! Of course, lots of great photos were also taken! Finally, yesterday we said goodbye to Hospice Ethiopia. It is hard to explain to someone what an incredible place the Hospice is – the staff are always full of joy and love and it feels so peaceful to be there. We couldn’t have asked for a better to place to have our final music session out in Addis (this time round…!)

In total, we have trained 3 psychiatric nurses, 6 palliative care nurses, 9 special need teachers, 3 volunteers and one board representative from ENAID. We have worked with 3 adults with mental health needs, 10 adults with intellectual disabilities and roughly 14 adults who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDs and/or cancer ourselves, but our focus has always been on how our Local Partners can work with many, many more people after we go. I think there are going to be many great plans made for these centres and we cannot wait to see how their relationship with music therapy evolves over the years.

We are so grateful to Music as Therapy International for giving us the opportunity to come out here and run the project. Also, to all three of the charities out here for welcoming us with such open minds and kind hearts. We would also like to say a massive thank you to Dr Melkamu for contacting the charity and assisting in the implementation of the first music therapy project out in Ethiopia. We are truly honoured to be a part of such amazing work.

Ciao for the last time and here’s to making music therapy happen around the world!

Lily Blows-Paliwoda and Hannah Berhanu