The 2022-23 school year is finished. American children are in the thick of summer vacation, leaving ABC’s behind for a few months. It is the same for youngsters in a Mus!im village in Ethiopia where we have an early education center for 60 children from the poorest families.
School finished June 20, but we are just now getting report cards and pictures of their last day. The area where this school is located is in the middle of an ethnic tug-of-war with the federal government. The children are not aware of the tension and skip to school as normal, but the adults are acutely aware of the tight grip the Oromo Liberation Front has on their village and are cautious and on edge. There are restrictions on transportation and communication and outsiders are not advised to travel there. Thus, this year has been one of delayed reporting, and I and others have only been able to meet with our case worker outside the village to drop off vitamins for the children and receive verbal news.
Politics aside, 27 girls and 33 boys had a fabulous last day of school. The village elders joined the teachers, missionaries, and parents under the big tree next to the school – this tree is referred to as the ‘worship tree’ because that is where church was held until a building was constructed.
One of our supporters donated money so we could buy each child a new outfit and pair of shoes. They were ecstatic! Never in their lives have they had brand new clothes like this!
The Awana Sparks Club of Calvary Baptist in Show Low, Arizona raised a whopping $580 to provide first-grade backpacks for the graduating kindergarteners with the remaining amount given through a matching corporate donation from a faithful supporter. Each year we ensure that every child has access to first grade by providing the school fee, uniform, and all supplies necessary for their next step. We are so grateful for our friends, young and old, who care so much.
We are proud to say that the 30 graduating children will enter first grade reading and doing simple math. There are three classrooms and the top three students from each class were given special recognition.
The village chief, a Mus!im man, gave these closing remarks:
“We have never ever seen such a kind of wonderful organization who love our children and support us from their deep heart. They hired teachers and other staff for our children’s education and safety. Our children are being fed in the school and are learning. The needed school materials such as pencils, pens, exercise books, textbooks and school uniform are purchased and being granted to them. They are learning freely without paying even a single coin. In addition to this, these poor families are getting monthly food and other support. We appreciate and thank the donors of the Mana Gammachuu Organization*. May God bless them and grant rest to their children!”
*Mana Gammachuu is the Oromo name of our ministry in Ethiopia