Sometimes we get to witness amazing stories. Today is one of those days. We celebrate this sweet boy, now fitted with an adaptive wheelchair, who will join the Special Education classroom in Halaba in September. He will FINALLY attend school — something he has dreamed about for so long! Continue reading “A special boy is headed to school this Fall!”
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!
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
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!