Roots Ethiopia & h2 Empower Partner in Ethiopia

This post is contributed by Marcie Frehner, member of the 2014-2015 Volunteer Travel Team with an emphasis on arts and literacy. Marcie has been essential in developing the Roots Ethiopia/h2Empower Partnership and has developed a delightful friendship with the Founder of h2 Empower. 

Roots Ethiopia’s work with schools started by supplying tables, chairs, desks, and textbooks to schools in need. Over time, with donor support and a lot of hard work, Roots Ethiopia began to do more. There is a natural continuum to working with schools. First students need a place to be, they need supplies with which to work. The next step is to use these resources most effectively. Along the way, Roots Ethiopia always asked, how do we empower the local community to use these new resources best? How can we support school leadership to manage resources and use them to make the most impact in their schools and their communities?

In 2014 and 2015 I was part of the Roots Ethiopia’s travel team, finishing every evening of work in Hosanna. Every night we gathered in the hotel restaurant and briefed each other on our day. In 2014, Meghan Walsh, Roots Ethiopia’s Founder, found herself at a table next to another woman having similar conversations. They introduced themselves and shared their passion for being in Hosanna, SNNPR. It turns out this woman, Helen Boxwill, was the Founder of an organization called h2 Empower. Helen and Meghan strongly share the belief that the best way to support sustainable improvements in Ethiopian education is to empower Ethiopians to help Ethiopians. A partnership was born.

Helen has been an educator for the past 30 years, she has taught kindergarten through high school, been a Director of Language Arts and then Principal and Coordinator of a family literacy program. She spent one year as a volunteer in Ethiopia, teaching at the Hosanna Teacher Training College. While there, she worked with female students, local teachers, and set up a library system through the town, winning the Teacher of the Year Award from her sponsoring agency.  Read more about Helen’s incredible accomplishments here!

Roots Ethiopia and h2Empower, came together at a time when Roots was strategizing how to best support teachers and schools with new resources. h2Empower shared their knowledge and experience to bring us to that next level.

h2Empower’s vision is to “empower the lives they touch through supporting access to high quality education for all, helping communities develop sustainable improvement in quality of life and increasing connectivity to the global community so that all individuals can reach their highest potential for their families and our greater society.”

The h2 Empower vision compliments the goals of Roots Ethiopia perfectly! 

Roots Ethiopia’s Board of Directors has voted to help fund h2 Empower’s work over the next few months (the work is well underway and we will be updating you over the next few weeks) in the following areas AND Root’s Learning Resource Project schools are FULLY included in this exciting new phase! The collaboration includes:

Librarian Training

  • Training provided by Code Ethiopia and h2 Empower.
  • 8 days in Hosanna.
  • Includes 103 schools from the Hadiya Zone and all of the Roots Ethiopia LRP’s.
  • Training sessions will be focused on 3 different groups to address unique needs: Primary/Secondary/College. Trainers are highly qualified Ethiopian library and literacy leaders.
  • Training sessions will include experience at Hosanna’s first Community Library — which includes a children’s library, a student library, and a computer lab!

Girls Empowerment Training

  • h2 Empower will train gender club advisors and officers in order to develop concrete ways of changing attitudes towards girls and developing a culture of inclusion for all in the school and workplace.
  • Each school has a gender club serving girls to help them complete their education.
  • gender training includes developing girls sports teams, addressing girls empowerment, and discussing issues such as FGM, puberty, and early marriage.
  • Each and every government office has a gender officer to advocate for the needs of women.
  • They will use a curriculum developed by FAWE: Forum for African Women Educationalists. This curriculum has been adopted by the Ministry of Education in Ethiopia.

Your recurring monthly donation help Ethiopians to continue to develop the skills to educate their communities in profound and sustainable ways

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