A Community Ready to Move Forward: Siyoum’s Story “I can’t wait to go back to school.” These are words many parents yearn to hear. Instead of dragging their kids

to school every day, they hope that their children will be excited and willing to attend. In Siyoum’s case, he has been fed up, bored, and upset, waiting almost three years to go back to school.

15-year-old Siyoum is one of the many survivors of the combination of the devastating war in Tigray and the pandemic; as a result, he’s been unable to attend Salle Primary School. Siyoum described his three years as a long, dark, and horrible nightmare. “I could not read, learn, or do anything in my home, I was instead hiding from heavy weapons, airstrikes, and drones.” The young boy and his friends described being starving, not only from a lack of food but a lack of education as well; as a result, he is willing to wait no longer to go back to school.

Government attempts to reopen schools have been hindered by insecurity, damage to schools, and protection concerns for both students and teachers; nevertheless, imagine1day has persisted in its efforts to provide the children of Tigray with quality education. Intervention projects in the area were strengthened by the construction of water points, Siyoum expressed his gratitude for these saying, “Water is life, and you once again gave us life, thank you!” During his May 18th visit, Board Chair Ken Mackenzie even drank from the water pump, showing his gratitude and excitement that imagine1day had been able to provide the community with safe water. During this visit, the children partied, danced, and expressed their pure happiness to finally be looking to their future- something only months ago they could not have imagined.

Siyoum explained that he was overjoyed to see everyone back at school, but that it didn’t come without challenges, “First graders who were 7 years old when the pandemic and war began have now missed elementary school and have never stepped foot into a classroom. Many of us have forgotten what we have learned.” Nevertheless, Siyoum says he feels joy in his heart when he sees the lessons, and newly constructed furnished classrooms again. In the future, he hopes to be a teacher and prays the war doesn’t ever start again.

“I appreciate the commitment imagine1day has given to us, it has created a new life for us,” Siyoum exclaims.