By Gabrielle.

Yesterday, we traveled outside the capital to a town called Mojo. We were there to visit a Primary School and a Secondary School (Elementary and Jr. High/High School) that have benefited from foreign aid. In this case, aid from the UK. I was blown away at everything they are accomplishing with limited resources.

Over the last 4 years, these Mojo schools have received approximately $30,000 in aid funding. That’s not one lump sump. It’s $30,000 spread over 5 years. As part of receiving the funding, the schools have to be incredibly accountable for how they’re spending it, and the school administrators were more than happy to give us a tour and demonstrate all the improvements that have been made. They are proud of what they’ve accomplished. When we saw the improvements and read the numbers, we were proud too!

Instead of writing an essay today, I thought I’d share lots of photos (taken by Karen Walrond) and add notes about what I learned yesterday to each one. I hope you enjoy.

They used some of the funding to improve buildings and classrooms. They don’t have access to the learning posters that fill American classrooms, so instead they paint huge diagrams (about 5 feet x 6 feet) on the exteriors of the buildings. They are awesome!

Just to give you some context, Mojo is a not a big city, but it’s not a small village either. There are cars, but donkeys are far more prevalent.

The Secondary School serves 4000 students. It doesn’t have enough room for that many kids, so the school works on a shift system. Half of the kids attend from 8:00 until 12:30. The second half attends from 12:30 until 5:00. With the aid funding, the schools have been able to hire more teachers. They’ve brought the average teacher to student ratio from 1:67 to 1:49. A huge improvement!

And they didn’t just hire more teachers, they also used some of the funds to better train the teachers.

Some of the funding went to books for the library.The library contained two rows of shelves and approximately 5000 books, neatly organized by topic. The residents of Mojo speak Amharic, but from 9th grade on, the school curriculum is entirely taught in English. So most of the library contained books in English.

All of the ONEmoms were dying that we hadn’t brought backpacks full of books to gift the school.

Look at these faces!

I love this diagram. This is what it’s all about. Education means everything.

On the drive to Mojo we pulled in at a hotel on this lake for a pitstop. Did you know Ethiopia looked like this? I had no idea.

Some of the funding went to the computer lab. And some of the funding went to bathrooms. Five years ago, there was one bathroom for the entire high school — boys, girls, and staff. Remember, that’s for 4000 students! With the funding, they’ve added 2 new bathroom buildings. Now staff, girls and boys each have their own bathroom facilities.

This is another fantastic exterior diagram. Which reminds me: Part of the funding went to lab equipment.

Seriously. These faces! I can’t get enough.

This is the entrance to the Primary School campus. That flowering tree? It’s a poinsettia!!!

This was the first school building in Mojo. It was built by the Italians during their occupation of Ethiopia. It’s made of wood. But that’s a really unusual building material in Mojo. Cement is far more prevalent.

The Secondary School kids wear uniforms, and so do many of the Primary School kids, but from what I can tell, the youngest ones get to wear whatever they have access to.

This is a photo taken on the Secondary School campus. We received a tour and were able to observe in the classrooms. Part of the funding went to improving the grounds. New plants and trees, 61 cement benches, and a sturdy stone wall to enclose the campus.

The campus was indeed beautiful, but please keep in mind, if you were comparing the campus to the average American high school, you might find the facilities fairly primitive. These schools are not high tech. The construction is not high tech. There are few learning materials. But again, this community is taking what they have access to and making the most of it. It is an incredibly resourceful attitude.

If you know what your school budget is, you’ll recognize that $30,000 over the course of 5 years is hardly anything at all. But the improvements made possible by those funds are drastic. These improvements have contributed to the overall quality of education in a major way. They’ve brought the number of students in the Mojo Secondary School passing their university entrance exams from 72% to almost 90%. That’s huge!

This kind of funding is important. This aid makes a difference.

If you’ve already joined ONE, thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you want to do more, please consider sharing these dispatches on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or your own blog. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the support.

P.S. — Today, we’re taking a super early flight to Bahar Dir, where we’ll learn about the Integrated Family Health Program that focuses on nutrition, maternal newborn and child health. We’ll be traveling far into a rural area. I’m excited!


This week, I’m in Ethiopia at the kind invitation and expense of The ONE Campaign, a nonpartisan, advocacy organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and malnutrition, particularly in Africa. ONE works to convince governments to invest in smart programs that save lives. While here, I’m with a group of parenting bloggers to observe how the organizations for which ONE advocates are effecting real change in Ethiopia.

ONE doesn’t ask for your money, just your voice. If you’re moved by anything you read or see here, or on the ONE blog, please consider adding your voice, and join ONE by filling this form. Your information will remain confidential.