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Shashemene
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We traveled to Shashemene as a 4-person team in July of this year. Most of that time was spent with the community where the school will be built. At the end of the trip we were able to start classes for 160 children. These are children who currently have little access to formal education.

The community we are working with live on the outskirts of Shashemene - a large town that grew where two major roads meet in the southern part of Ethiopia.

It’s a trading and trucking stop. The community is a mile or so away from the center of town and has a more rural feel to it. The corn (maze) and other crops that grow next to the homes give the impression that you are in a rural setting. We often, mistakenly, refer to this community as a village; since that’s the feeling that you get when you are there.

The community is poor, but not destitute. They are simple traders, store workers or operate the pony-driven taxis that run through the back streets of Shashemene. Their leader is Wondimu, a tall, dignified and immensely respected person. He is a devoted Christain, who cares deeply for his family, the children of the community, and anyone that he can help in his sphere of influence.

Wondimu has created “ Schools for Humanity Association Shashemene” – a 10 member board drawn from both inside and outside the community. Included on that board are: a building engineer, a teacher and educator, a former government employee and other local professionals.

When visiting the community, one cannot help but be struck by the desire these people have for a school. A few of the children attend the government schools, where conditions are cramped and overcrowded. Some classes have over one hundred students with few books and no writing materials. Most of the children, though, have no access to a formal education.

It has been Wonidmu’s dream to build a school for the children in Shashemene. He would like to provide schooling for both the children in his community, and also children who live in the poorer neighborhoods of the surrounding areas.

Land has been granted for the school’s construction – but to build and operate the school we need a Certificate of Education. To obtain the Certificate, Wondimu pulled the whole community together. Each family contributed 25 bir (around US$3) to fund the Certificate process. I was extremely saddened to learn that some families were forced to go without food to pay their contribution!

On July 6th, the Ethiopian Education Ministry approved the Education License. The license will now need to be recorded with the Central Government Records office, a process that should not entail any major problems. As we drove to Addis to fly back to the USA, Wondimu was making his 7th journey to the Capital to work on pushing the process forward. Hopefully, construction of the new school will start soon.

Genene Tasew, local teacher and educator, has designed the curriculum. For the pre-school children the Amharic script will be taught. For the children aged 5-9, English, Math, Science, Amharic, and Social Studies will be given.

While in Shashemene, the opportunity presented itself to lease facilities and start the school before the new building is complete. On Monday July 16, 160 children turned up for their first class. These children, delighted at the prospect of going to school, gladly spent the weekend cleaning up the facilities in readiness for their first lesson. Schools for Humanity is now open for business!

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