All of our previous missions have helped us build respect and reliability within the Arbegona community and with our school partners and has lead us to this important milestone in our history.
Where did the 10 days go? It flew by. This mission was our most successful visit in the history of our DMP partnership with the community leaders, church leaders, parents, school administration and children who attend the DMP school. I want to take a snapshot of this moment to refer to when things are challenging because at this moment, I can truly say that EVERYONE is working in absolute cooperation and each entity fulfilling a specific function in educating 1000 students starting September 12, 2014.
1. The government officials are doing their best to gain access to electricity for the school, which will greatly benefit everyone involved
2. The government continues to provide teacher training and pay teacher salaries
3. The teachers and headmaster participated in EVERY SINGLE ACTIVITY we initiated at the school along with the children:
4. Painting exterior walls with education graphics decided on together
5. Organizing and color-coding every single library book by skill level and creating visual aides on the library walls
6. Extensive business meetings deciding on the direction of the school expansion and agreeing on a list of priorities for the school and students
7. Educated us on the composition of the school which includes and even number of boys and girl students and an expected 333 orphans of the 100 students in September
8. Explained in detail the funding structure to support orphans at the school so NO CHILD is turned away and ALL KIDS are provided with learning supplies/uniform – essentially each teacher donates a portion of their already meager salary every month to support these kids
9. Thorough cleaning of all school floors and windows (bigger job that you might think) and adding to on-site cleaning supplies
10. The church leaders continue to provide limited financial support after donating the parcel of land that the school sits on
11. The community has constructed a water well on the school grounds which is invaluable as now all children have access to water
12. The community leaders utilize the school as an after hours first aide clinic and while we were there the local nurse was administering polio shots to babies and a woman visited to get aide for a very severe ear infection
In addition to these advancements, DMP has allocated $8000 to complete three new classrooms and improve the current nine classrooms. DMP has allocated $3000 for 100 new metal desks to replace wood desks that are literally crumbling from use. These projects will be complete in the next 60 days.
What we desperately need is 1000 new uniforms for the school kids. The uniforms that we provided over the last few years are literally shredding from wear. The sweaters are in threads and the shirt collars and hems have large holes. These uniforms are worn 24/7 by the vast majority of students – particularly the orphans. If you have any suggestions on supporting this initiative please let us know. It cost approximately $30 per uniform bought in Ethiopia (shirt, pants or skirt and sweater). We must fulfill this need – hopefully before the September 12th school session begins.
Thank you to everyone who has supported these hopeful, loving, eager-to-learn group of children. Please do not hesitate to contact me with ANY suggestions as we work to open doors and improve the lives of 1000 students grades K-5 and their families!
*reminder – DMP is entirely volunteer operated and all administrative fees are donated