Ethiopiaid Monitoring Trip Diary 2016 - HOPE Enterprises
Posted by Liam on Monday 21st March 2016
During my visit to HOPE Enterprises this morning I heard of children fainting in class from hunger, grades being affected and children being pulled out of school as they needed to work to support their families. Nearly half of Ethiopia’s 90million population are children, so the country’s success rests upon the success of this new generation coming through. HOPE’s Executive Director, Dr Lemma, spoke of the need for a ‘holistic’ approach to educating Ethiopia’s children, and this is something I will come back to later. But I want to start at the beginning.
A good breakfast is a great way to start the day, and HOPE Enterprises ensure that over 800 children go to school on a full stomach. The Street Children’s Breakfast has two sittings each morning, and provides bread, banana and milk. Gashaw oversees the breakfast six days a week, and to a raucous background of children eating and playing, he explained to me that going to school having eaten is such an important factor in a child’s success. He had an easy smile and good rapport with the children who seemed to love the organised chaos around them. ‘For some of these children this will be their only meal of the day’ Gashaw said. The contrast between the children’s horseplay, the constant demand for high fives and shouts of ciao! and the challenges that they face was difficult to process. Some of these children wouldn’t even have the opportunity to attend school at all. The breakfast is part of HOPE’s ‘basic necessity’ programme, and is the first part of the ‘holistic’ approach.
HOPE also have seven schools in six regions across Ethiopia, and aim to equip students with practical skills that lead to employment. The Addis Ababa Branch Manager, Biruktawit Bogale, gave me a tour of a school. She smiled often and amid more demands for high fives and shouts of ciao! from the students, she explained how HOPE works. There were nearly 4,500 students at HOPE schools in Ethiopia, from kindergarten up to 18. There is such a high demand for the subsidised spaces that HOPE have to liaise with the local authority and identify the most needy. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard something like this on my trip, and only further highlights just how much demand there is for these types of services.
I had a chance to meet some of the younger students and their parents. Tsion is 11 and wants to be a doctor. She’s an only child and is the shyest child I have ever met. I did manage to find out that her favourite subject is maths and that she loves subtraction and multiplication. Her mother, Genet, was much more talkative. She’s a member of a self-help group made up of 11 women that is part of a HOPE programme to support the families of their students. I wondered what it was she thought about the education that Tsion was getting at HOPE. ‘I’m glad. With access to education Tsion can become whatever she wants’ she said. She smiled at Tsion and for a moment all the shyness seemed to melt away and a little chuckle came from the youngster.
To ensure that students have the best chance possible of finding work, the school offers vocational training in skills that are in high demand. The TVET vocational training programme focuses on metal fabrication, industrial electronic machines, furniture making, hotel kitchen operation and hospitality. These two year courses have a fantastic success rate, with 99.04% of students passing the national exams. Hailmichael is 18 and has been with HOPE since kindergarten, and is a living testament to the HOPE approach. He’s studying industrial mechanics and has plans to go on to study engineering. He plans to do this by working during the day and studying at night school. His mother is alone in supporting Hailmichael and his two siblings, an older and younger brother. When asked about what made him want to continue his studies, he explained ‘I don’t want my mother to worry anymore.’
Dr Lemma spoke about the need for a ‘holistic’ solution. There is an understanding at HOPE Enterprises of the need to not only educate their students, but also to develop them, support them and their families. The school’s form part of this process, as do the regular street children’s breakfasts and family support groups. For Ethiopia to succeed, everyone has to have the opportunity to succeed. HOPE Enterprises are working to make sure that happens.