Many of our supporters have asked to learn more about the children we help.
The school looks beautiful and it is important to understand that this serves as a sanctuary and place of calm, security as well as learning in an otherwise extremely difficult environment. Here are some of our students’ true stories, the names are omitted and other key identifying details to protect their privacy.
A’s father is in a wheelchair (spinal injury), and his mother has no education. His mother used to be helped in the family home by his grandmother, but she died just over a year ago and shortly afterwards a new baby was born. A was neglected by his parents who could not cope. All last year he was not given lunch to bring to school, and his friends helped him and so did the teachers. This could not be sustained and so now to ensure he has at least one good meal per day, we have asked his sponsors to help him by buying him a proper lunch everyday (provided by a staff cook). Cost per year: $175.
B’s father died 3 years ago, when he was not yet a teenager, and his mother’s mental health has deteriorated. She has moved away from the region and is living in her home village. B is now living with relatives who are the mother and father of a girl who also attends the Nicolas School. The family of 9 all live in a single room about 3 km from the Nicolas School. His school fees are paid by his sponsor and these relatives receive his home support payment of $10/month to pay for his food and school supplies.
C is now 8 years old and his mother has died. He had an older brother who drowned as there was no one at home to look after him as his father was out working. C lives at home alone when his father is out working, he became rather naughty so our student welfare director Sara counselled him. Now he has improved in his school work, but he is not gaining weight as his diet is so poor. He often has to make his own lunch as his father works as a guard at night and also often in the days, as well. Sara is giving him extra plumpy nut and also extra food from the food programme. We are asking his sponsors to help him by buying him his lunch each school day (just $0.75/day)
D’s father has a bladder problem due to a war injury and has to use a bag for urine collection. D’s name means “complete” as her father thought he could not have children, and when she arrived his life was complete. She is near the top of her class, and is a bright student and surely a sign of future hope for her father.
E lived at home with her parents and elder brothers. Both her parents had been fighters at the time of the civil conflict and her mother was still working in the army. Her mother was posted with the Ethiopian peace-keeping force to South Sudan. While she was away she sent the money she earned home to her husband. He had to pay for a maid to cook and look after the house in her absence. However when returned from her duties, she found that her husband was living with another woman and her children were neglected. Their bedding was infested and the children had parasites in the skin. E’s mother divorced her husband and her son and daughter have now moved with her into rented accommodation. She has lost all her money and had to start again, so we have given her a job as a cleaner at the school and given her the first month’s rent from our emergency fund. Her older son is at University, so his costs are covered by the government, as long as he gives service when he qualifies (this is normal practice). E was a top student, but her grades dropped this year. However we are optimistic that now we have helped her mother re-establish herself the family will recover and we can help them all.
T. Recently a sponsor visited her student at her home, accompanied by our student welfare director. She felt inspired to write this open letter to encourage other sponsors and show them how they can make a difference:
…….now I am trying to say your name in the same way as it is pronounced in your country. You dear, dear godchild! You have been our sponsored student for 4 years, now. That means that once a year we send the money for your school fees, transport, school meals and materials and now and then we send a small gift and a short letter. We received your thank you letters, your test scores and a small video when we sent you a gift.
We also saw that your test scores were getting worse after your mother died, 3 years ago.
All this and you were so far away, in Ethiopia, in one of the poorest countries in the world!
You are surrounded by fine, lovely people who live on a lot less than $2.75 per day. That is the amount that in the rich world they have agreed is the minimum on which to live, or is it survive or go hungry?
In March we visited you in Mekele. Suddenly you were very close.
You were beautiful, proud and over-burdened. We visited you in your Rainbows4children school – the Nicolas Robinson School. We again gave you a gift. You were shy, we were strange foreigners who were assuring your stay at the school.
One afternoon we took a rickety blue “Bajaj” to your living area. Donkeys, goats, shanty houses and children! Dusty stalls, plastic waste and children! We passed through a rusty door into a scruffy backyard, where there are 6 huts for 35 people. Your hut, in which you have been caring for 3 years your ancient, almost blind, grandmother, your sister and 2 older brothers, was cleaned up, and on the compacted earth floor, green leaves were scattered. Then you started the coffee ceremony for us, popcorn popped in a metal pot on an open fire. You hand us injera, which is made from teff, a grain, and a hot red sauce. Children squeeze next to us and your grandmother in the hut. We talk and laugh. Your beautiful face with a blue scarf reflects the glow of the embers. Then tears run down your sooty cheeks. We asked you, what more can we do to help? A dress, sneakers, what could it be? You said: 50 kg teff and 2 sacks of charcoal. You are 14 and your shoulders narrow and your burden heavy……