Leave It to the Kids and Donkeys! An Example of Local Collaboration in Ethiopia

Duna Sadicho is a remote village in Kembata, Ethiopia. How remote is it? Very remote! After our team arrived via a 4WD vehicle on a quite arduous route we were discussing how to get supplies (hundreds of cumbersome textbooks) up to the school once they are purchased locally. The community elders saw no issue with transport at all!

In fact, they suggested that the students themselves could walk down to Doyogena and each carry back an armload. It was as simple as that. AND, they would find donkeys to help with the job as well! So there it is. Something that is a puzzle to us is solved quickly with local knowledge and experience.  A lovely image of community cooperation and a community knowing how to get things done their way.

Learn more and help fund The Duna Sadicho Primary School TODAY!

Lead your own Learning Resource Project in Rural Ethiopia:


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The Duna Sadicho Primary School sits on a beautiful ridge overlooking Doyogena, Ethiopia.

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A typical donkey cart that is used to transport goods and people in rural Ethiopia.  This one was on the way to Duna Sadicho!


Meet Eyerusalem, a 5th Grader with Big Dreams!

Girls like Eyerusalem and her sister, Birtukan, are the future of Ethiopia. When you donate to Roots Ethiopia this year, you give many girls just like these two a chance to be forces for change — in their families, in their schools, and in their communities.

Girls in Ethiopia dream of being doctors, engineers, nurses, and businesswomen. Your support of Roots Ethiopia helps children connect their dreams with the reality of school! 

Children like these two sisters long to attend school without concern that attendance will be interrupted by girl-centered work, lack of school supplies, illness, or food insecurity. Eyerusalem attends school in Bonosha, Hadiya with a schools sponsorship. She is in 5th grade and has big plans for her future. When we asked her about her goals, she smiled and responded:

“I want to be a doctor. My sister wants to be a doctor too. ”

We are confident this duo can do it, provided they have continued support and encouragement. Their mom is doing everything she can, and Roots Ethiopia has provided that extra layer of support for her youngest daughter.

Girls and boys come to Roots Ethiopia for assistance — for uniforms, book-bags, supplies, medical needs, and monthly food for family health and welfare. If private schools are available locally, their sponsorships provide monthly tuition. This is the support that YOU make possible.  We are so very grateful for your compassionate care of school children. 

Our team had the pleasure of meeting these sisters last week in Bonosha, and they are dreaming big and working hard. Your support keeps their keen eyes on their futures. 

With our deepest thanks,
Roots Ethiopia Board of Directors
The 2014 Roots Ethiopia Travel Team

*If you’d like to make a gift of Roots Ethiopia to someone this holiday, use this holiday link and we’ll immediately send you a beautiful card for your gift giving! If you need more than one card, send us your request at*

Did you know coffee can change a life?

Would you believe that coffee can make a difference? Because of you, Tsehainesh’s coffee shop is flourishing.

Just 3 months ago Tsehainesh did not have work. Living in a rented room with her husband, she was home caring for her tiny daughter while her husband searched for day labor work in Hosanna, Ethiopia.

Tsehainesh was frustrated — her baby daughter, Bereket, needed to begin solid foods and they didn’t have enough resources to provide nutrient-rich food for her. Tsehainesh KNEW she had skills to make and sell coffee. But, she had no capital to create a tiny shop (tinish suk) on the edge of the town’s bustling market space.

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And then you stepped in, and Tsehainesh’s life changed. Your donation made it possible for her to receive a small business grant through the Roots Ethiopia IGA program. She put her first installment of funds into building her small roadside shop with a wood frame covered with tarps. Adding chairs, she has a simple 2-3 person capacity outdoor coffee shop.

Open 6 days a week, she sells coffee and a local favorite barley drink called shameta. Her nutritious barley drink is so popular on market day she sells out within 2 hours! She will use her second installment of IGA funds to buy more barley and sell more shameta.

Tsehainesh hopes to add tea, fruit, and bread to her shop. “One day,” she says, “I’ll open a shop in a building and I’ll have other people working with me. I am working hard to build my future for my baby so she can have her own plans and know they can become real.”

I met Tsehainesh last week in Ethiopia. Can you believe a life can be transformed within weeks of a business start-up grant? Your support makes this transformation possible.

YOU make an impact! Your donations create these changes time and time again — $325 means a whole new future for a family. I think you’ll agree that this is the kind of donation that offers an opportunity of great magnitude for hardworking families who are ready to change their own futures.

Please give generously during this giving season. Your donations are put right to work for the children and families of Ethiopia. Your support means so much to Roots Ethiopia, but more importantly, it means so much to the families who are ready to work!

My warmest wishes to you this holiday season,
Meghan Walsh
Founder and President, Roots Ethiopia


Rainy Season There, Summer Strategies Here

We’ve got great news rolling in for Roots Ethiopia! Let’s take a look —

It’s July 1, which signifies the end of our fiscal year and lots of good news being prepared for our annual report! We are working right now on a stakeholders’ report that will be finished once our official accounting report is complete and filed with the IRS.  We will post the report online as soon as it is available.

While work in Ethiopia during the rainy season slows quite a bit, Roots Ethiopia in the US is spending the summer ramping up for a busy fall season! Strategic planning is underway and our board members are hard at work evaluating last year’s successes and planning for the upcoming year’s campaigns and events. Next up is our fall annual IGA campaign — we anticipate great success. Now is the time to plan your September donations for IGA’s. $325 funds one business grant and changes the life of a family!

There is NEW Learning Resource Project underway! Roots Ethiopia will be purchasing and delivering essential textbooks for grades 1-4 for an elementary school in the Tembaro village of Gedra. Supporters in Maine will be “Biking for Books” to support this LRP. You can donate on our Razoo site  Please lend your support for books, blackboards, and play yard soccer balls.


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In October we will be teaming up with Upcycle Ethiopia and their Etsy shop to benefit the creation of IGA’s for hard-working women. The Etsy shop will be open for business and in support of Roots Ethiopia in October — stay tuned for the shop opening announcement. We are so excited to be their beneficiary this year! (And if you’d like to be part of the crafting/sewing team for Upcycle Ethiopia and contribute to the team effort for Roots Ethiopia, please contact us ). Every single item sold through their shop ENTIRELY benefits Roots Ethiopia. This volunteer group of women is stellar — they donate everything – time, supplies, creative spirit and the final product.  Wow! We are grateful!


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Our team is presently planning our December travel to Ethiopia. We will be conducting fieldwork, doing field assessments, and undertaking our first ‘all staff’ training at our headquarters in Hosanna.

We are excited to have a team of 6 planning enrichment activities at existing schools that have benefited from Learning Resource Projects, conduct training with community coordinators, visit communities, take compelling photographs, and build rapport with the communities and families with whom we work. We will once again be in Ethiopia during the harvest season and anticipate dust in our hair and grit in our teeth. We are getting ready now — and it is very exciting to plan this year’s work in Ethiopia. YES!

More to come —– we are hard at work! Thank you to all of YOU who make this work possible.


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Remember some everyday ways you can support us!

*Roots Ethiopia photos are still available from our team photographer, Lauren Werner. You can purchase them through her website —

*Remember to shop with Amazon Smile — same Amazon, same services, but we benefit. Sign up today!

*Find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook! We are everywhere for you!

Almaz: A plan for success

Almaz is a single mom.  She and her 4 children were suffering from lack of opportunity.

She struggled to support herself and her children.  Almaz yearned for self-reliance, but could not access any resources to purchase necessary materials for market work.  Roots Ethiopia shared resources and skills with Almaz. She wrote her business plan with the help of Roots Ethiopia field staff, attended a business training where she learned basic accounting and planned for success. Now Almaz purchases vegetables in bulk and is able to sell items like taro in local vibrant markets. She is able to pay her rent, feed, and educate her 4 children.

“We are safe. I work hard and all of my children now go to school. Now our stomachs are happy and our minds are working.”

Almaz’s story is typical of our Income Generating Activity grants. Roots Ethiopia’s IGA program provides women like Almaz the resources and confidence they need to move from dependence to independence.  Our field staffs are expert community leaders and social service providers who understand the needs of the community and support change at the most basic and sustainable level in the communities where they work and live.

Zena’s Story: S.H.E. Inspires

Zena has a beaming smile, and she has a lot to smile about! She is an inspiration, and this is why!

Zena has turned a small business grant through our Self-Help Entrepreneurs (S.H.E.) program into a stellar success.   She represents the best part of the work of S.H.E.  Our organization holds a campaign every year to put new grants for small business into the hands of hardworking women.  With your help these women become forces for change in their families and communities as soon as they have the resources to make a difference.  Help make an impact and donate now.


“I am Zena. I am the mother of 7 children. Before my husband died, my life was very nice. We had everything we needed to eat, everything we needed to live. But after his death, we suffered a lot.

After getting some support from Roots Ethiopia now my life has been changed…The program has provided training on how to use the money, how to run a business. Then I started saving after I learned in the training. I am now a business owner and a mother.

I sell bread and injera and a local soft drink at the market for 2 days every week. On other days I sell injera at my home. People come every day for my business. The profit of this business is feeding my children, paying house rent, and paying school fees for all of my children.

My wish now is for all my children self-sufficiency after completing their education. I want to help them get a good education, be self-sufficient. Now I want to go on and help people just like me.”

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(photo of Zena in front of her home, selling bread, injera, and a local soft drink)

Grade Placements in Classrooms in Ethiopia — How does it work?

Roots Ethiopia has been asked to discuss how students are placed in proper grades in Ethiopia,  particularly in the Kembata Tembaro and surrounding region. Placement extends well beyond peer placement because of extensive delay and dropout rates.

We have asked one of our local Ethiopian advisers to comment on his understanding and experience of classrooms and student placements in Kembata Tembaro and the surrounding areas. (Note:  Some of the context of this question was set by Roots Ethiopia class rosters, in which, for example,  a 16-year-old girl is in 6th grade, and a 16-year-old girl is in 3rd grade).

Report on Classrooms, Ages, and Placement

Age is not a consideration when placing children in a classroom, that is the case in all parts of the country of Ethiopia. The government encourages families to send their children to school at an early age (normally 6 years old to begin first grade — see our white paper on education to read more about schooling).  However, it is always up to the family to decide when to send their children to school.  Families in Kembata Tembaro and the surrounding area greatly value education, and families make every effort to make school a priority. But there are many factors that influence school starts, delays, and dropouts.  Ultimately, the decisions are influenced by the family’s social, economic, health, and other factors affecting their lives at the time children are ready for school.

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(Redeit age 9, grade 2 – Roots Ethiopia sponsored student)

When a child (of any age) joins the school, the school has the duty to place him/her in the appropriate skill level, but not age level. Schools do not have the necessary mechanisms in place to provide any alternative or special education needs.

For instance, in the case of Roots Ethiopia, a 16-year-old girl in 3rd grade tells me about her strong ambition and determination to pursue school in the face of adversity.  Whether she manages to get to 10th grade depends on her classroom achievements. But, I am sure her age has little impact on that. For example, when I was a grade 10 student in Hossana high school (this was some time ago, mind you) there were 2 female students in my year: a mother and a daughter. They both completed high school, and have been working as nurses. I remember some students were older than our teachers. My aunt was my classmate as she had to drop school because of family-related difficulties. A significant age gap among classmates is commonplace, especially in the rural areas.

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(Sisay, 15 years old, 6th grade – Roots Ethiopia sponsored student)

It is difficult to assume at what age children may drop out of school. Theoretically, students may terminate classes at any stage if they face one of the problems mentioned in Part 1 of this discussion. But the most critical points are grades 6 and 8 and 10. At these stages, students may have to change schools and seek a secondary school or a high school which is normally located in a distant town center. Families have to make a difficult decision whether to send their children to a remote town.

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(Doyogena High School Library, Kembata)

It was not too long ago, for instance,  that students from Mudula town used to travel to Hossana to attend high school. Now Mudula has its own high school, but that was not the case years ago. In addition to that, the grade 8 national exam determines students fate whether to proceed to secondary school. Grade 10 exams determine again, about progression to high school.

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(Photo Credit Lisa Woll: Primary School in Tembaro)

Programs like Roots Ethiopia help students enroll in school and stay in school. And, the most vulnerable students and families get the support necessary to continue school without interruption. It’s exciting to know that there are programs like Roots Ethiopia helping individual students accomplish their goals.

(This is PART 2 of a 2 PART discussion: Part 1 is on the topic of School Delay and Drop out and is the preceding blog entry)

You can act now, and donate to any of our initiatives. Your donations help us enroll students in school and keep them there. Roots Ethiopia assists with supplies, uniforms, nutritional, medical, and psychosocial support for families and students. Our number one goal is to get kids into school and help them progress without interruption. You can check out these links:

 Donation for school sponsorships

Or this one for the Amacho Wato Learning Resources Project  (COMPLETED — THIS LINK IS NOW CLOSED!)


Why Students Delay or Dropout of School In Ethiopia — Kembata Tembaro Perspective

Roots Ethiopia has been asked to describe school dropout and delay in Ethiopia, particularly in the the rural regions where we work. We have asked one of our local Ethiopian advisers to comment on his understanding and experience of some of the reasons why students discontinue and/or delay school.

Desta’s Report on Schooling

In general, most students in Kembata-Tembaro region are keen, ambitious, and do a great deal of learning. Yet, school dropout and delay in grade progression are very common. In my view, these could be the result of a combination of factors.

The effect of family resources such as low income, limited assets, and large family size restrain parents from sending their children to school. Many poor families cannot afford the expenses of school fees, textbooks, clothing, and transportation.

(Children celebrating when new school materials arrive for their library, their classrooms, and their new science room)

Social and environmental issues such as drought, crop failure, food shortage, illness or death of a family member also force students to discontinue school. Normally, children are required to assist their parents in such difficult times.

Many schools in the region are hindered by considerable resource needs. This results in a poor quality of education which can increase the dropout rates. Inadequate numbers of qualified teachers, lack of quality textbooks and teaching materials and poor physical school facilities, such as lack of proper blackboards, tables, and chairs, affect the quality of education. Where school libraries exist, they often contain a couple of outdated books to share with groups of students.

(Science Lab in a Kembata rural school)

Poor education means families can become be discouraged from sending their children to school. Parents would rather invest their meager resources elsewhere and involve their children in farming and domestic activities. Girls are encouraged to get married rather than attending school. While discontinuing school does not bring any good either for her or for the poor family, the decisions must be made and often in moments of crisis.

In addition, geography can influence school attendance. Primary schools are located in nearby villages and teach from grades 1 to 8. However, secondary schools are often located long distances from rural homes – usually in regional town centers. Grade 9 and 10 students must often travel long distances daily or weekly. The same issue can influence decisions for students who do the hard work of qualifying for high school by passing their 10th-grade national exam.  The cost of transportation and travel time can increase the risk of dropout, especially for girls. The question becomes – is it really worth investing or traveling?

So, improving the quality of a school is one of the many important measures to be taken to advance education and to reduce the dropouts or delays in school in the region.

(Library tables and chairs being delivered to a library project in rural Hadiya)

I encourage you to involve in the various initiatives being undertaken by our friends and families of Roots Ethiopia, or other school focused initiatives.

You are also welcome to support Roots Ethiopia’s initiative to improve the learning-teaching environment by providing textbooks, desks, science supplies, playground supplies, chairs, etc. to under-resourced schools.

We always appreciate your support of our work to improve schools. You can find ways to give here:

Thank you.


(This is PART 1 of a 2 PART discussion: Part 2 is coming soon and the topic is Grade Progression)

You can act now, and donate to any of our initiatives. Your donations help us enroll students in school and keep them there. Roots Ethiopia assists with supplies, uniforms, nutritional, medical, and psychosocial support for families and students. Our number one goal is to get kids into school and help them progress without interruption.


Soccer Jersey Give-Away–Happy New Year!

Roots Ethiopia is celebrating the Ethiopian New Year and the Ethiopian Soccer Team win against Central Africa with an Ethiopian Soccer Jersey Giveaway!

Roots Ethiopia is going to celebrate New Year’s with a JERSEY GIVE-AWAY! Everyone who donates to ANY of our projects for ANY amount will be entered into the draw. We will host a random draw using on Saturday, September 14th at 9 P.M. Central.   So come on, win this beautiful jersey! (Adult L, Adidas tags, if you know shirt sizes in Ethiopia, this is more like an adult S and/or a children’s XL).

You can donate on our secure server HERE for any of our 3 core programs (IGA’s, School Sponsorships, and our General Fund). You can also donate HERE for our special project in Amacho Wato. Choose your favorite program and don’t wait — you have one week!


Do you want to learn more about the Ethiopian New Year?

September 11, 2013. Ethiopian New Year, also called Enkutatash or Ri’se Awde Amet, is a significant holiday for Ethiopians.  New Year’s Eve is sometimes spent attending the church or mosque.

On New Year’s Day, there is much celebrating, good food, family, and neighborhood friendliness. If a family can, they will purchase new clothes for their children. The children will get together and go from home to home singing and collecting coins (birr). The girls sing in groups during the day, followed by groups of boys on New Year’s night.

Evening ends with coffee and children who have spent their coins on candy at the local suk.  The holiday occurs on September 11 in the Gregorian calendar, except for the year before each Western Leap Year, when it occurs on September 12.



Thank you to everyone who supported this campaign. We appreciate your support of our program and of Ethiopia’s national soccer team!


“Kirempt” – Rainy season field report

The rainy season in Ethiopia, called “kirempt” is coming to an end. In mid-September, students will return to school and robust foot traffic and bus traffic will resume on the roads in rural Ethiopia.

Our team reports that the conditions in the field have been difficult this season. Roads have been impassable and moving from one place to another for the market, visiting, and communication has been very slow and arduous. In some more remote areas, travel has nearly stopped.

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Our field team writes:

“Most of the days of the week it has been raining for about 8 hours. Most of the time it starts early in the morning and ends at 3pm. The temperature is cold… it has been in between 6 C (43 F) and 10 C (50 F) evening and morning. About 15 C (59 F)  afternoon for some days. It has felt cold and wet every day.”

In Hadiya, the farmers have started planting their fields with wheat, bean, peas, and teff. The challenge for the farmers in the area is the muddy soil. All farmers struggle to work through this season with hand-hewn tools and the heft of their own labor.  One will rarely ever see a mechanical field tool in use in this area.

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Our field team has also shared with us that many farmers and families are already discussing the harvests expected this fall.  We are told the harvest for coffee is good in Kembata Tembaro. Unfortunately, the harvest for cereals is not expected to be as good this year. In other troubling news, the ginger harvest has been impacted by disease and we are told: “many farmers are in worries.”

Roots Ethiopia has a busy season planned. We, like our team members in Ethiopia, are at the ready to strengthen and grow our program with new IGA’s (income generating activities) and adding students to our school enrollments. We will also be purchasing textbooks to complete Phase I of our Amacho Wato School Learning Resources Project — so that books are ready to be put in students hands when they walk through the building.

You can be a part of our work. Please donate or let us know if you’d like to lead a fundraising event. We can help you get started by emailing us at