Girls At The Top of Their Class


Meet Three Ethiopian Girls Who Are Ranked At The Top of Their Class

The biggest reward of any Roots Ethiopia project is not just marveling how your collective generosity can transform a community or a school or a classroom. It’s seeing how that loving investment can light up a child’s face.

So we want to celebrate the smiles of three students we are proud to support at Wanja School, which serves over 500 children from the surrounding Halaba district. These three Ethiopian girls—ranked 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in their class—are the future.

Learn more about our commitment to the Wanja School and our fundraising efforts on its behalf by clicking here! 

Top Of The Class! Dubane, Lubabe, and Redit Are Three Ethiopian Girls Beating The Odds…

DUBANE

Dubane with her Da

ddy and her grade 3 brother, Bergena

Dubane is a 17-year-old Wanja student preparing to enter the 7th grade in September. She ranked first in her 6th-grade class. (Get it Dubane!) Dubane’s background is particularly hard; her family is both poor and socially marginalized within her community. The teachers and students of Wanja have worked hard to create a safe and welcoming environment for Dubane.

The financial crisis of her home life forced her to drop out of school for three years so today some of her peers are getting ready to begin 11th grade. Undeterred by such a tragic loss of momentum, Dubane secured an after-school laborer job at a nearby building site that allowed her to return to school last year for 6th grade. She earns 20 Birr (roughly 85 cents) for a half day of work. With that money, she contributes to her family’s food expenses, purchases school materials, and buys her clothes.

Dubane wants to be a doctor when she grows up. Roots Ethiopia attended the end of year school ceremony and awarded her a new school backpack to begin her 7thgrade, praising both her grades and grit. Dubane is an outstanding role model for all the kids at Wanja.

LUBABA

Seventeen-year-old Lubaba is getting ready to enter the 7th grade. She, too, was forced to take several years off from school because of financial hardships. To reenter the sixth-grade Lubaba works alongside Dubane as a laborer at a construction site and was able to raise the money needed for school registration.

With her hard-earned money, Lubaba could also afford the required school materials and clothing. (In addition to covering her school expenses, Lubaba also puts part of her paycheck towards groceries for the family.) Last year this superstar ranked second in her class.

She also has dreams of going to medical school. Roots Ethiopia is moved by Lubaba’s commitment to her future and gave her a new backpack to help her carry her dreams into the seventh grade.

REDET

Redet, Lubaba’s younger sister, is 15 years old. Like Lubaba, Redet is preparing to enter the 7th grade. She ranks third in her class. (Yes, the Aman girls are incredible.) Their family earns an income from subsistence farming. Her mother sells sugar cane at a street corner and occasionally does hair braiding services for 5 Birr.

Besides Lubaba, Redet has two other sisters and a brother. Because of her family’s long-term financial difficulties, she discontinued her education for three years. But now Redet is supporting herself by working after school as a laborer like her older sister.

She dreams of being a medical doctor. She also has a  new backpack that she will put to good use this fall. Go Redet!

If you are inspired by Dubane, Lubaba, and Redet please share this article!

Click here to donate to Roots Ethiopia!

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.

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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!