“My daughter wouldn’t have been able to attend school. We couldn’t afford to buy her school supplies. Having been living in a conflict setting, the opportunity has done more for my daughter than give her access to an education. It’s also enabled her to cope with the trauma she’s experienced from being displaced. Before she started attending school, she was depressed, lonely, and shy. Now, she is active, happy, and comfortable being around anyone and everyone. I am forever grateful to UNICEF and imagine1day for the comprehensive intervention in providing the necessary scholastic materials and creating access to quality education with ‘My Home’ project,” says Keise Shemba, Serawit Zemedkun – Accelerated Learning Program of imagine1day’s ‘My Home’ project student’s mother.

Imagine1day has been working on emergency projects since 2017. In partnership with UNICEF, we embarked on a brand new pilot project called ‘My Home’ in August 2021 with around 2 million USD. The project currently spans ten districts of six zones in the Oromia region of Ethiopia as well as four districts of one zone in SNNPR. It integrates three pillars: learning, child protection, and life skills, a solution-focused approach that aids internally displaced people (IDP), host communities and returnees. This program was developed in response to the conflict. Referral pathways are facilitated for additional services in addition to the three pillars in order to complete the intervention. Health services, nutrition and justice are among other services the beneficiaries are then referred to. Each facilitator is trained on the three pillars, which helps elevate the intervention power. It also helps with identification and response at all levels. A strategy designed to empower the learning facilitators to be able to give both child protection and life skill services and the other way round.

After successful implementation of the pilot project for seven months, it has since expanded to Amhara, and Tigray regions as well. The project has now helped over 300,000 people across the four regions.

Serawit, a nine year old returnee in SNNPR, is one of these recipients. Serawit and her six siblings were attending school when the conflict between Konso and Ale broke out.

“Our home was burning and my mom was crying when I came home from school. It was so scary that I knew I’d never forget that day,” says Serawit. We displaced to Lehayte – 15km far from our home. The journey was so tiresome and stressful. We had nothing to eat, nothing to wear and no neighbors to go to play with at Lehayte. I had quit my education, which I had been attending for two months before the conflict occurred. Our life was so boring until we came back here.”

Serawit and her family returned back to Komola after a five month stay at Lehayte. Her parents have since been recognized as leaders in sending their children to school before the conflict broke out. They didn’t waste a day to make the most of accessing the opportunity and ensuring the education of their children.

Keise says, “Some people were afraid of sending their children to school after being displaced, thinking they may get lost if the conflict happens again. My husband and I ensured our kids were back to school as soon as possible. Serawit is among the first students enrolled. I want my children to have a better life than we did. From the monthly coffee conversations facilitated by imagine1day, I have learned that education is the only option to realize this dream. I will continue supporting Serawit and the rest of my children’s education until my last breath.”

The learning pillar is aimed at creating access to education for children under three with classified respective modalities know as Accelerated School Readiness (ASR), Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) and Accelerated Primary Learning Program (APLP).

ASR is a two month-long modality developed for children ages 6-7. It teaches basic literacy and numeracy skills to prepare them for grade one. The play-based program also helps the children cope with the trauma by focusing on different ways to socializing with their peers and communities.

Over 70% of the ASR graduate children have joined grade one with referral pathway facilitated to nearby link schools. Aster Karatita is a seven years old ASR program graduate attending grade one in SNNPR.

“I am able to make friends again after seven months whenever I started the ASR class. I like coming to school more than anything. I enjoy learning via song, picture and puzzle. Playing and studying with my friends is what I like the most about my school though,” says Aster.

The second modality, ALP is an approach designed to give condensed learning of grade one and two in 10 months – five months each.

APLP is the other program of the learning pillar designed for children ages 10 to 14 with accelerated learning of grade one, two and three in ten months. Three months each for grade one and two and four months for grade three.

The child protection pillar is aimed at ensuring resilience while creating access to learning, Child protection concerns and gender based violence case management as well as psycho-social support are major components under child protection pillar ‘My home project’ that has intended to make sure the children who have got access in the conflict setting can cope with the trauma.

This pillar is also designed to manage cases of separated, unaccompanied, child headed household, orphan vulnerable children and children with disability. Offering psycho-social and mental health support is essential for children that have been exposed to gender-based violence.

The last pillar of ‘My Home’ project is life skills, which is an approach intended to make the intervention sustainable and encouraging self-reliance. The pillar is implemented at two levels as foundational or basic and employability skill training.

Boosting confidence, decision making, communication skills, empathy, resilience, and problem solving power are major skills included in the training. This helps trainees cope with their past experiences and move on to new life.

The employability skill training is given on vision and goal setting as well as need based local means of incomes considerate to local knowledge. Bee keeping, animal husbandry, soap production, carpentry and handicraft are some of the employability skills trainings are given on.

15,675 people have completed the foundational life skill training at this stage and 7,587 people have completed the employability life skill training.

“The beekeeping group under life skill component of ‘My Home’ project isn’t just an opportunity to team up with a group of people, it is a hope to better life for me and my family,” says Mohammed Hassen, a father of five, employability life skill trainee in Kubura site, East Bale zone, Oromia region.