Dispatches From Ethiopia: Part 3

October 10, 2012

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.

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{ 4 trackbacks }

ONE | Dispatches From Ethiopia: Part 3
October 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm
ONE International, foreign aid in Ethopia | SummerChild
October 11, 2012 at 8:48 pm
Ethiopia, Day 3-6: Complexity + Sounds of Africa
October 13, 2012 at 7:40 am
ONE | Ethiopia, Day 3-6: Complexity + Sounds of Africa
October 15, 2012 at 9:44 am

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shannon Bradley-Colleary October 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I’m thrilled to spread your message to the reaches of my influence!

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2 mandi@herbanhomestead October 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Wonderful update! I am blown away by the resourcefulness and determination. I can’t wait to read the next installment. So interested to see what is being done for maternal care.

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3 Martha October 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm

That makes me want to fill a box of books to send! They are beautiful!

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4 Christy@SweetandSavoring October 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I’m loving these updates, Gabrielle. Knowing how many people you reach with your posts, it’s evident that you’re seriously raising awareness for such an important issue. Your photos and point of view are accessible and beautiful. Thank you for sharing this journey with us!

:)

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5 Jennifer Burden @WorldMomsBlog October 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Thank you for taking us into a class room in Ethiopia — amazing! The shift system is really interesting to accommodate 4,000 children. I’m enjoying this adventure that #ONEMoms is taking us on this week. Thanks to you for taking us virtually along!

Jen :)

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6 Tiffster October 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm

It’s always inspiring to see what people with desire, determination, and a budget can accomplish! Awesome!

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7 Heather October 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Amazing! It’s terrific what they’ve done w/ such limited resources. It really makes you realize how very lucky we are in this country. I’m a huge believer in books and the power of reading. Is it possible to donate books to them?

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8 jill October 10, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Thank you! this is so inspiring!

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9 Lorna October 11, 2012 at 2:43 am

I would LOVE to donate books! Can we do that?

Also, do they accept old (but working) computers? I bet there are loads of people who have old laptops that still work fine…?

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10 susan October 11, 2012 at 5:25 am

I love the faces of those beautiful students. It looks like they gave you flowers! Amazing post. Thanks for spreading the word about what one mom can do.

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11 Miss Lindsey D October 11, 2012 at 6:24 am

we love your posts from Ethopia what a truly beautiful statement about the true beauty of life, the real elements of a good and beautiful life and the impact the simplest of gestures can have. We have so much admiration for One and for what you and your fellow travelers are doing by going there and sharing all of this with the world. Thank you

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12 Linda Kerr October 11, 2012 at 7:35 am

Wow!!! What an amazing experience. I see Liz is there, too!

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13 Astrid October 11, 2012 at 9:39 am

thank you so much for sharing, and bringing a face and personal story to all the good work ONE is doing. I have my own personal connection to Ethiopia through my daughter- so these pictures and stories make my heart soar!!
Astrid
http://www.etsy.com/shop/AnAstridEndeavor

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14 Jill Greenlaw October 11, 2012 at 10:14 am

Thank you for sharing your trip with us. Amazing! I love what ONE is doing to bring awareness to the rest of the world. I look forward to reading more about your trip.

Safe travels!

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15 Jen October 11, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I have a nephew serving an LDS mission in Ethiopia and it has been great to see your pictures and share your stories. The people are BEAUTIFUL!

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16 beth cupitt October 11, 2012 at 12:23 pm

i love all these updates from ethiopia! it really is a beautiful place with beautiful people and culture. we just adopted our son from ethiopia and he’s been home almost two weeks. it’s really awesome to see more about the country that he came from and find out what we can do to improve their lives there.

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17 jenny also October 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Amazing is right! How can we donate books?

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18 michelle Larsen October 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Hi there. I am an adoptive mom with four wonderful kids from Ethiopia as well. I was excited to see that you got to experience the magic of that country. Our kids have been home for just a year now. Here is a sweet little video my sister put together of our miracle: http://6footmama.blogspot.com
Also, I wanted to say Hi to you Gabby–I am Michelle Hinton Larsen from Dixie High and your old ‘hood. It is wonderful to see all the great things and influence you have.
Also, I wanted to share my NGO called http://www.growlearngive.org It is health ed curriculum (for free) for developing countries. We would love see our stuff taught in Ethiopia if you have any contacts to share that would be willing to teach it. It has shown to really improve the girl graduation rate and reduce early pregnancies.
Keep up the good work Gabby.
Happy October to you–

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19 michelle twin mum October 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Loving sharing this journey with you, each day I’m just blown away by something new. Mich x

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20 Tracy October 11, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I am so glad to read your appreciation of their resourcefulness. When I visited rural schools in Cambodia this past spring, the juxtaposition of the lack of resources and the ingenuity of how they used what was available was very impressive to me. I was humbled when I realized that if I was given the same conditions (severe lack of my normal resources) I may not have fared quite as creatively as the Cambodians did. I found they had a great nobility in the midst of poverty. It was so eye opening. It sounds like your trip is as eye-opening as mine was. Safe travels!

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21 Emma October 11, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Thank you for this beautiful post. What a wonderful story to share. We need more of these wonderful stories, and to see the impact of people’s lives being changed.

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22 Lena January 15, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Wow, what a beautiful and meaningful trip. I joined ONE as well, thank you for spreading the message! I think every each of us should do trip like this once or more times in a lifetime. Shows you how to appreciate things we normally take for granted. When I went to Asia, it totally changed my life forever in a best possible way.

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