“I knew neither my mother, nor my father as they both died when I was very little. Hordofa raised me along with his nine [children],” remarks 14-year-old Wogene, a class 7 student in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, with his sights set intently on the future.  At the tender age of 2, the young boy was seemingly alone in the world, orphaned, due to the untimely passing of both of his parents. His father, on the verge of death from an undiagnosed illness, begged, Hordofa Balcha, a relative, to look after his only son.

Hordofa, a farmer, had a considerable family of his own, but took Wogene in saying, “My worry has always been this boy… even more than my own [children], for he has no one…”

As one might imagine, in spite of the support Wogene has enjoyed from his adopted family, life has not been a straightforward course. Though Hordofa supports the adolescent’s schooling, with such a large family, at times it has been a struggle making the household’s ends meet.

Fortunately, an educational intervention on the part of Education Above All’s, Educate A Child program and imagine1day, the “Leaders, Educators and Parents (LEAP)” project, helped set Wogene on a different course. Tesfaye Guta, a capacity building officer with imagine1day, explains that outreach and support for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) are critical components of this effort, revealing, in fact, that this is precisely how Wogene was “reached” by LEAP with access to quality primary education.


Today, Wogene goes to school with confidence, his favourite subject is English (he hopes to learn as many languages as possible), He says “Thanks to EAC and imagine1day I don’t worry about my school supplies anymore for I [get] a uniform and scholastic materials for the year!” The joint LEAP project has even provided Wogene with a sheep for husbandry purposes, so that he has an independent source of income, which increases the chances of him being able to stay in school. As it turns out Wogene is one of the top 5 students in his class.

“Wogene is an outstanding and disciplined student… He is [growing] every day. He so badly wants to change his life for good. He has a dream of not only having a brighter future but giving better lives to others who have had a similar childhood. Quality education is the fuel for the vehicle that takes him to this destination…” says Rehima Aliyi, Wogene’s English teacher.

80-year-old Hordofa, reflecting on how the LEAP project has shifted the ground before his adopted son’s feet, states, “I am old… I am sick these days… But I am relieved, and my soul will rest in peace knowing that he can stay in school no matter what.”

He believes that education is the way out of poverty; thinking of how his parents’ life was cut tragically short, Wogene says, “There are times I wish I had my mom and my dad right beside me. I lost them only because they couldn’t afford healthcare. I want to change this reality for the coming generation by becoming a businessperson who creates employment opportunities for people. I want to study business management in university.”