Reach Millions to Enlighten their Hopes

Ethiopia Blog Post 3 Alene

Alene Yenew, Head of Sponsorship 

Ethiopia

February 2014

Recently I traveled to Gondar, one of the tourist attractions in Ethiopia. The mountains were covered with golden-yellow meskel daisies indicating the end of the rainy season and the beginning of spring, the time where children start school, the time to stride for new hopes and dreams to come true.

Crossing through a range of mountains, we reached Muse town close to midday and I found our sponsorship ambassador child. She was 12 and in grade 6. When I told her that I am from Save the Children, she was happy to talk with me.

She let me inside her home where she was roasting corn, and her friend also joined us. There were 2 pieces of corn on the fire. She broke the roasting corns into four pieces and shared them between her friend, our driver, and me. Her brother was sleeping on the floor very close by the fire. Her mother was out for petty trading, and her father had gone to a faraway place to attend a funeral. I learned our child was roasting the corns for her lunch; a typical poor-person’s lunch in the rural Ethiopia. She was willing to share what she had – a grand gesture of courtesy and humbleness.

Their house had a tin roof with almost-falling walls and a dusty floor. A handmade, grass mattress was covered with anti-malaria bed net. I asked her how she is prepared for the next academic year. She told me she was so angry that she didn’t make the top-three list from her class last year.

She said, “I have a dream of becoming a teacher and a dream of saving the lives of others. I will study hard this year and will rank first, second or third.” Then I realized one thing, this little girl was enlightened and inspired because of Save the Children’s great work in providing access to school and education.

  Ethiopia Blog Post 3 Gondor Landscape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 2

As we talked, she told me she likes studying at Donkey Library, one of Save the Children’s innovative projects designed to improve the reading skills of children. She said, “The day when the donkeys reach our village with reading materials, we all are happy to borrow books!”

As it was the first day of school, we followed her there. Teachers were busy leading students to their classes. The school structure, with coloured walls painted with different educational pictures, was built from a strong pre-casted concrete by Save the Children.

The classroom with some combined desks was perfect for learning, for bringing lasting change to children’s lives. The children were fine with the classroom conditions, even if the floor is not tile, and there were no individual lockers and tables, and they do not carry lunch boxes. A small plastic bag packed with exercise books was enough for them. Great minds emerge from schools like this.

Our Country Director Ned’s farewell statement earlier this year said, “our goal is not to raise millions of dollars a year, but to save millions of lives a year and to support children around the world to achieve their potential.” When I read it, it reminded me how we reach many children who wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to school and access education if we didn’t help.

 

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Rita Weaves her Magic in Grade One Classroom




Sanjana

Sanjana Shrestha, Communication
Coordinator

Nepal Country Office

July 19, 2013


Nothing
deters Rita, not even a room full of curious and mischievous first graders. On
a field trip to Kapilvastu, one of our sponsorship impact areas, I accidentally
stumbled into Rita’s classroom and listened to her teach numbers to eager and
excited first graders.

She
has drawn a chart with numbers and things that represent the number. For
example, the number 3 is represented by drawing of three cups alongside a “3.”
She engages in a discussion with children about how and why they use cups.
Children promptly answer that they drink tea from cups. She also encourages
children to find synonyms for cups in other languages. When it’s time to learn
about the number 4, she asks the children to count the number of windows in the
classroom. In Rita’s class, children not only learn about numbers, but also
about new words, language and discovering things on their own.

Nepal_blog_Rita in her classroom

Rita in her classroom

A
look around her classroom and I am captivated. Rita has covered the walls with pictures
and learning materials. Story books hang on a line that runs across the
classroom, children’s drawings are suspended from the ceiling and there are locally
made toys, games – and learning materials Rita made herself.

“I
do not find teaching these children difficult. In fact, it’s more difficult to
stay home doing nothing,” says Rita, who lives an hour away and comes on a
bicycle every day. “My students help me in class. When I announce the lesson for
the day, they volunteer to bring learning materials needed for that class. One
of them always keeps the attendance register. The best part is when children
volunteer to bring water when anyone is sick in the class or needs to take
medicine.”

Rita
says that she started enjoying her job more when she participated in training
to make learning materials, “a door to new ways in which she could teach
children.” She sometimes gathers her first graders and makes teaching materials
with them, all the time asking them questions about what things they can make
from cutting papers in different shapes and sizes. She says learning materials
make children creative and more imaginative. When they see the lessons in
textbooks turned into something visual, they can understand very easily.

Rita
whose mother tongue is Tharu, uses Awadhi, the language they use at home, to
speak to her students. She is a bridge for her young wards in switching between
languages.

Nepal_blog_Rita with her students

Rita with her students

Rita
takes great pride in her first graders and the discipline they show in class,
even when they are playing games. She says, “I like the beautiful handwriting
the children are learning, and I like their questions. I hope they help their
grade two teacher like they did me.”

One
of her students Anita, 8, says, “I like my teacher a lot because she loves us
and tells stories to us.” Anita, who has been in grade one for the past three
years, is making huge progress this year with Rita as her teacher.

Rita
says, “Anita didn’t go to an ECD [early childhood development] center, but
started in grade 1. In the evening after school, she goes home to wash dishes
and cook. She can write and read Nepali and sometimes leads the class, and she counts
from one to hundred. She even asks me for difficult homework.” Rita is
confident Anita will pass grade one with flying colors this year.

 

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