About Kate

For eight years Kate Fereday Eshete lived in a small mud hut on the edge of Gonder city with her Ethiopian husband (Asenake Eshete), their adopted children (Tomas and Menen) and their menagerie. In 2009-10 Kate and her family moved to a bigger mud hut in Dib Bahir, a remote village in Debark Woreda (county).

Born in Cheshire - a county in the north-west of England - in 1961, Catherine (Kate for short) is the elder of identical twin sisters. In 1966 her family moved to Scotland, spending one year near Inverness before settling in the Orkney Islands, off the northern Scottish coast. Kate attended Kirkwall Grammar School, attaining 'A' in nine Scottish O' Grades. At 17 she left Orkney to travel.

In 1982 Kate married Jason Nickalls at Hackney Town Hall in London. In 1988, five years after having trained as a secretary, Kate was Senior Personal Secretary to the Director of Computing at British Telecommunications plc, working at BT Centre in the City of London. Childless, Jason and Kate divorced in 1990. Kate relocated to the maritime city of Plymouth in the south-west of England and worked in Marketing as a Project Controller for a German telecommunications company.

In 1994 an impulse took Kate to Ethiopia to help street children. Five years later she walked 500 miles from Addis Ababa to Gonder via Lalibela with a donkey she called Dinkenesh, celebrating the Millennium near the remote Tekeze River in an area where no white person had ever been before.

Asenake (pronounced ah-se-na-ke) and Kate, who first met in 1998, married at Gonder Town Hall in 2002. They adopted two abandoned babies (a boy and a girl) in 2006.

In early 2005 Kate opened the Tara Centre and ran it for five years until its closure in December 2009. The Tara Centre was a community centre and a base for projects to help people, animals and the environment. For more information about the Tara Centre, see ARCHIVES.

In January 2007 Kate completed the first year of a five-year Veterinary Medicine degree at the University of Gonder. She is continuing her studies privately, as this fits in better with work and family commitments.

Later in 2007, Kate opened a small school at the Tara Centre, moving it to Dib Bahir in 2010. She and her family continue to run Empress Mentewab School as a non-profit social enterprise to benefit their community.

Kate is the founder of two English charities: The Kindu Trust (for needy children in Ethiopia) and The Dinkenesh Fund (for needy animals in Ethiopia). She is Honorary President of The Kindu Trust and Chairman of The Dinkenesh Fund. Since 1998, The Kindu Trust has raised more than £1 million to improve the prospects of poor children and their families in Ethiopia.

A note about Kate's name:

Ethiopians have just one name and use their father’s name as a second name. For a third name, they use their paternal grandfather’s name (for example, Asenake Eshete Tefera). They do not have family surnames and women do not change their names after marriage.

When Asenake and Kate married, Kate added her husband's second name to the end of her name to give herself the customary three names. However, outside Ethiopia she uses 'Fereday Eshete' as an unhyphenated surname (ie, she is Mrs Fereday Eshete). In Ethiopia Kate is known as Katy or Katy-ay (the suffix denoting affection in Amharic) or Katy-shoo (the suffix denoting affection in Oromigna).

Asenake's background:

Asenake was born on a farm in Debark Woreda in 1956. When he was 17, he joined the army and fought as a Commando during the 17-year civil war (1974-91) - he still has the scars from bullet and shrapnel wounds. At the end of the war, his rank was Corporal. He has thousands of relatives in Debark Woreda and other areas, families in the past having been so large.

Asenake in the army (standing, centre)
Asenake in the army (standing, centre)