Meet Taeme Hiluf, a student at Gereb Abdela Primary School. He estimates he is 16 years old, though without a birth certificate, he doesn’t know for sure.

He is in first year at school.

Taeme’s younger sister and brother were already enrolled, attending grades three and four. As the oldest, Taeme faced a different life: “I was responsible for looking after my family’s cattle,” he says. “I was so upset when my parents sent my younger siblings to school and kept me at home looking after the cattle, but I didn’t say anything to them.”

Taeme Hiluf inside his new classrooms at Gereb Abdela Primary School.

Taeme Hiluf inside his new classrooms at Gereb Abdela Primary School.

Today, that has all changed. We worked with influential community leaders to share the importance of education for all children. The message was heard by Taeme’s parents, who enrolled him in class.

To make things even sweeter, we built a new school in Taeme’s community, which we opened last year.

“I am just happy that they finally decided to send me to school too. My joy is even two-fold that I am joining the school when this new school blocks are built.”

Until last year, those children that were enrolled at Gereb Abdela School experienced a learning environment no child should sit through. The 679 pupils studied in open air classrooms that offered little protection from the weather. Many spent their entire lessons perched on logs or sitting on the bare, dusty ground, scribbling on notepads balanced on their knees.

Thanks to the support of our donors and partner, Run for Water, the children now have comfortable classrooms, gender segregated latrines, a library and playground. Young children will get a head start on learning with the Ladybug Classroom for Early Childhood Education, built in honor of Melanie and Margot Mueller.

Rashan Alemayehu, a Grade 1 teacher at Gereb Abdela School, says the difference between the old and new classrooms is phenomenal.

“My students are now very happy to come to school and learn. The children have a lot to do at home. but now they prefer to come to school.

“Even for me as a teacher, it was not really nice to teach in the old classrooms. The floor was all dusty. The classrooms did not have proper desks.

A young girl practices the alphabet in her new early childhood education classroom.

A young girl practices the alphabet in her new early childhood education classroom.

“How could you expect them to concentrate on their studies learning in such a non-conducive classroom?’,” she asks. “Now two to three kids share a desk. It makes a huge difference.”

Rashan says she expects an even bigger impact next year, when the first 0 Class students join her lessons. “The new early childhood education center will make a huge difference in preparing young students for the primary level.”

Joise Peters was part of the Run for Water crew that traveled to Ethiopia to take part in the school’s inauguration.

“I have seen amazing smiles and lovely people. I cannot believe that I have influenced these people’s lives in some way,” she says. “I would encourage people to travel and see what other people are going through and contribute to help improve their lives in some way.”

Read the inauguration report from Gereb Abdela School. This school was funded with the support of our partner Run for Water, honoring the contribution of Ryan and Trish Huston. The Ladybug Classroom for Early Childhood Education was built with love in memory of Melanie and Margot Mueller by their friends and family.