Like many men in the town of Guangua, 51-year-old Mezgebe Gebregziabher is burdened with many responsibilities and few resources. He has three daughters and four sons, who he laboriously supports by harvesting sorghum grain. And just four years ago, he almost married off his 11-year-old daughter, Mebrhit.

Considering his circumstances, this was not a surprising decision. “By culture, if the husband gets the bride, he has to help the girl’s family out at home,” says Mezgebe. The fiancé had sent gifts of clothing and shoes to seal the deal. There would have been an exchange of oxen and goats. “Two families are stronger than one,” Mezgebe thought. But for Mebrhit, the news came as a shock. Just weeks before the wedding, Mebrhit’s girlfriends told her the village gossip — her father had promised her hand in marriage. Panicked, Mebrhit went straight to those she trusted the most: her teachers.

Yohannes Kidanemariam standing outside beside a building


Next year, his daughter will begin her first year of high school as one of imagine1day’s Class 2018 Graduate Fund students. “I am glad for the cancellation of that marriage. Her education is benefiting her, and she is helping her brothers and me also,” Mezgebe says. Today, Mebrhit proudly lists the ways she now helps her father: “I can read the instructions on the fertilizer. I tell him now how he should take his prescriptions. He has experienced many benefits of my education. Education is important because educated and uneducated people are not equal. Even in our simple life it is important— it’s not just for the modern globalized world. That’s why education is important to me. My girlfriend had to get married and now she is a farmer with children. If I had been married I would already have kids. Now I am educated— now I can have both. I can’t express my pleasure.”

Once Mebrhit begins high school in September, her family will continue to benefit from her educational excellence. imagine1day will provide Mezgebe with training and funding to start his own business – in his case, goat fattening and breeding. In a year, his business will make enough money to pay for Mebrhit’s educational and living expenses. “I cannot be sad with this kind of opportunity,” says Mezgebe. “This is success. I will do everything I can to contribute to her graduation.”