Not even the rains down in Africa can keep us from our work to support quality education for all! And yes, we are quoting the classic Toto hit song, now covered by Weezer.
No Barriers to Education: for Teen Girls
You may already know that Roots Ethiopia provides School Sponsorships to 200 rural, poor students in many communities. Continue reading “No Barriers to Education: for Teen Girls”
200 School Sponsorship Students… FUNDED!
Thank you, thank you, dedicated donors, for helping our School Sponsorship program to expand, sending more kids to school in 2018 than ever before. Continue reading “200 School Sponsorship Students… FUNDED!”
Setting Students Up for Success in Ethiopia
Exams are often a stressful time for many students around the world, and even more so in countries where getting a quality education is the key to bridging the ever-widening divide of income inequality. Roots Ethiopia is making a difference by hosting and funding after-school tutoring for 8th-grade students preparing for their 8th-grade national exams. Continue reading “Setting Students Up for Success in Ethiopia”
Solar Power in Schools: Let There Be Light!
A teacher at a rural school tries to angle the mirror of a sunlight-illuminated microscope towards the window to light a biology slide. A student strains his eyes in the cool darkness of a classroom to read his textbook.
Often we take for granted the role that power generation plays in everyday education. But not in rural Ethiopia. In 2014, only 12.2% of the rural Ethiopian population had access to electricity (World Bank, OECD/IEA, 2014).
Reliable access to power can be a game changer in rural schools:
- Lights to read by can allow students to use indoor spaces for studying and use them into the early evening.
- Microscopes can be illuminated by power instead of relying on the proximity of windows and brightness of the day.
- Teachers can access the programs provided via Ethiopia’s educational radio and television network (EMA) to supplement their teaching.
- Teachers and students can use technology devices, such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
- Alternative power sources, such as solar power, can reduce the reliance on expensive non-rechargeable lithium batteries, as well as reduce the health risks of lighting a space by kerosene lamps.
Roots Ethiopia has piloted solar panel installations in one of our newer schools, Lai Bedene Primary School in the Halaba Zone. With the money saved from using solar power for their educational radio, they are now planning to purchase a television for classroom use!
The installation was so successful that we have implemented it in two more rural schools…Legama Primary School in Wolayta, and Gomora Gewada Primary School in Kembata.
Reducing barriers that hold back rural schools from delivering a quality education is just one more way that Roots Ethiopia focuses its efforts on improving schools and educational quality.
Help us to light the way to academic success for more students in every Roots Ethiopia School!
School Sponsorship Supplies the School Supplies! (Try to say that 5 times really fast)
Today our field team is working together to deliver school supplies to students who need a ‘refresh’ of materials for the 2nd semester, which starts on Monday.
We are also excited to share that we are now including some additional books for our youngest students in their yearly supplies! We also added tools for math, hygiene materials like soap and lotion, and more everyday notebooks.
Do you want to be part of this goodness?
Join our School Sponsorship program – $21 a month supports one of our 200 students!
Breaking Down Barriers to Education!
One of the things we are most passionate about here at Roots Ethiopia is identifying and removing the barriers between all rural kids and a good education.
Some of those barriers involve financial means or distance from a school or adequate seating in a classroom or the availability of books.
And sometimes the barrier is a pair of eyeglasses.
Yesterday a volunteer team of Ethiopian vision professionals visited the school children we work with in Halaba.
This is especially important for the 30+ children in our special needs program in Halaba. Children with Down Syndrome have a higher rate of vision impairment, and our plan is to serve their vision needs as fully as we can.
We love that over 80 students and their families were included in vision testing. We planned to evaluate 40 special needs students, but word got out and our team of volunteers worked as long as daylight allowed.
We love knowing that so many kids saw themselves in the men and women who tested their eyes — representation matters! Maybe there is an ophthalmologist in the crew of kids tested!
We are especially grateful for the kindness and generosity of the volunteers! The children benefited from their time, their skills, and their compassionate care. What a difference this will make!
Next step: providing proper eyeglasses for these students. Stay tuned for more details!
2017: Year in Review
The past 12 months have been amazing for Roots Ethiopia. Our team has been hard at work to support local ideas for lasting change. You have made this a year of growth and excellence. As always, we could not have accomplished our work without your support. We have put together a list of ways YOU have made a difference – add a touch of coffee, some very long days on the road to remote villages, and a dedicated team, and 2017 is a year to remember. We are so grateful for your enduring support!
Happy New Year,
Learning Resource Projects:
3 NEW in 2017
- Wanja Primary School is a woman-led School in Halaba.
- 500 textbooks purchased for Ewoqet Chora Primary School’s first EVER library.
- Over 18,000 students and their families have enriched learning opportunities as part of their continued partnership with Roots Ethiopia.
1 VIP Latrine
(Ventilated Improved Pit)
with Menstrual Changing Room for Adolescent Girls
170 Students Attending School
Roots Ethiopia School Sponsorship
Highlights from our team:
- All children received backpacks, uniforms and school supplies, and they LOVED the SpongeBob backpacks this year.
- We rented a truck and delivered grain to all the families in our program.
- We listened to a lot of the hopes and dreams the children have for their futures, and we encouraged them to dream BIG!
3 Special Needs Classrooms:
2 NEW in 2017
Highlights from our team:
- Haile Bubamo Special Education classroom received special education toys for children to learn while playing.
- 10 children at Wanja Primary School were added to the Special Education roster.
- A classroom of 18 students in Halaba is now part of our program. There will be a daily snack and transportation to school added as a pilot program here.
60 New Women-Led Businesses
for 3 new Self-Help Entrepreneurs peer savings groups (SHE)
- Women in our new Usmancho SHE are very motivated to build a strong team for learning and sharing.
- The growth of SHE in Halaba Kulito means more women have joined our successful work there and have many successful mentors.
1 Office in Addis Ababa
NGO License & Country Director
*you are welcome to visit us in Hiya Hulet*
3 Teacher Training Programs
Highlights from our team:
- 2 professional teacher training for science teachers. Over 80 teachers trained in a University setting to help them create a hands-on science curriculum for their students.
- 1 professional teacher training held in Addis Ababa for 4 special education teachers.
The Roots Ethiopia Team
Special Education Classroom Gets Needed Supplies
Longtime friends of Roots Ethiopia, The Rikkers Family, held an online fundraiser to support teacher training requested and hoped for by the special education classroom teachers in one of our community schools.
“It was our family’s good fortune that the teachers in Ethiopia had been designing and building a wish list for their classroom, including teacher training for students with autism, Down Syndrome, and other special needs. We were ready to lend a helping hand with a fundraiser, and help supply and deliver the toys and games for the students.” — Jeni Rikkers
This article discusses how the special needs project in Ethiopia started.
Special Education Requires Special Materials
It’s unusual for Roots to bring materials in from outside of the country because we are committed to sourcing labor and materials locally. This was a unique case because of the difficulty finding local items. Roots Ethiopia’s team, the teachers at Haile Bubamo, and a special education consultant crafted a “wish list” on Amazon. The project was off and running.
“Our family used social media and email to share our effort to outfit this classroom with these specific hands-on classroom toys. The call to action was sent and within days the boxes arrived at our doorstep. Oh, so many boxes from people all across the country!!! Boxes were filled with goodness, such as sensory toys, puzzles, balances pods, Magnatiles, fidget toys, and blocks. Toys for large and small motor skills, to learn counting, colors, and letters. As we opened each box we could feel they were filled with…. hope!” –Rikkers Family
Students Enjoy Toys, Games & Puzzles
The delivery of these fantastic learning resources made students and teachers inside of the cheerful blue walls of the classroom jump in delight! Volleyballs and soccer balls were pumped up; Magnatiles were assembled into colorful structures; balance pods were laid out on the floor; fidget spinners were distributed, and blocks were fashioned into “mekina” (cars). No common language was needed to understand how to experiment with these colorful items.
Teachers Enjoy School Supplies, Too!
Jeni received some basic training during the months prior to travel so that she could demonstrate the use of many of the items for the teachers. Each toy was a source of inspiration for working with students. Blocks, games, and puzzles were discovered with laughter, fun, and learning. For example, the teachers loved how the game Twister is used to identify colors, simple instructions, and identifying right and left. The room full of children and adults alike were exploring, laughing and playing!
Now, these teachers can “pass on their knowledge” and new experiences to other teachers who serve children with special education needs in other schools!
“After all the pieces of luggage were emptied, we shared an Ethiopian coffee ceremony and ate himbasha bread together. We took the pumped up soccer and volleyballs into the courtyard and realized, again, that language is not needed to connect. A ball, a sense of play, and a desire to be together are all that is ever needed.” –Jeni Rikkers
Roots Ethiopia’s Community Identified Work Is Changing Perceptions of Special Needs Children
This classroom is, in fact, very special, and now has superb learning tools contributed by so many loving people across the world! What’s more —- THIS WEEK the teachers and their vice principal are in Addis Ababa to receive special education training. The teachers asked for this opportunity, and with the help of Roots Ethiopia and another generous family, the teachers are growing their toolkit for these precious students in Hosanna.
Many thanks to the Rikkers Family and the other generous families who helped to make this unique and special delivery possible!
Donate to the Roots Ethiopia General Fund to support increased community-led work in Ethiopia.
This story was contributed by Jennifer Rikkers, of Jennifer Rikkers Art. Jennifer is a longtime supporter of Roots Ethiopia and has traveled to the field with Roots Ethiopia twice.
If you found this story inspirational, please SHARE it with others who have a passion for lessening the stigma of special education throughout the world!
Betsega: A Boy’s Day in Ethiopia
It’s one thing to believe in the promise of a child; it’s a whole other kind of gift to see that promise lived. Earlier this year we introduced you to eight-year-old Betsega — one of the 250 kids beneﬁting from a Roots Ethiopia school sponsorship. Thanks to your support Betsega goes to school.
Who is Betsega? He is the oldest of three; the son of a father who works as a day laborer and a mother who sells coffee, injera and homegrown vegetables at the night market; a boy who loves soccer; a young entrepreneur who used one month’s of Roots Ethiopia support (275 birr) to purchase four chickens that he tends in a coop he engineered himself. His devoted efforts mean the coop is now home to two baby chicks as well!
When we asked Betsega “If we met you on the street for the ﬁrst time, what would you want us to know about you?,” this child who dreams of being a pilot one day deftly turned the question around on us: “I’d like to know about your plane ride to my country!”
Without the Roots Ethiopia sponsorship, Betsega would soon be forced into day labor himself. Instead, he can spend his childhood dreaming and studying and working with his chickens. Here, completely in his own words, is a day in the life of Betsega.
I wake up in the morning
I wash my face, eat breakfast, prepare my backpack
I walk to school down the road
Period 1 is environmental science; period 2 is sports; then math, English, Amharic, and spoken English classes
I come home for lunch at 12:30 and check on my chickens
I return to school at 2 for one more English class, math, and more science
I come home at the end of the school day at 3:30
I wash my uniform
I do my homework
I help my Mom while she works to get ready to leave for the market with her injera. I make coffee and anything else she needs me to do. I am good at making coffee!
At 6 I start reading and I study until 8 when my Mom returns.
I help make dinner and roast the coffee. For dinner we might eat potatoes (dinich), kocho (local food), vegetables (gomen), and corn bread.
Then we all wash our legs and go to bed. Sometimes I am too tired to wash my legs and I fall asleep, so I’ll wake up and feel my Mom washing my legs for me.
This is the type of productive and safe day we wish for every child.
Betsega’s chicken coop
An annual commitment of $300 will go far in the year ahead, not just in miles to rural schools where Betsega and other school sponsorship students live, but far into their everyday lives.
Are you ready to educate children in Ethiopia? If so, please SHARE this with others who might want to learn about the benefits of an Ethiopian education!
UPDATE: This blog post was written in 2017 and today Bestega is still working hard to help his family while excelling at school. He’s 13 and in 7th grade. His bright light continues to shine!
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