Dear Friends and supporters,
I would like to share with you, this week, a story from Fregenet Kidan Lehitsanat School that to me embodies the spirit of our organization and what we strive to accomplish with your support. Jemila Sorbale, age 10, is a spirited third grader who has been attending Fregenet since preschool. Her household is an intergenerational affair like so many Ethiopian homes. If we were to visit Jemila in her home, we could expect to be welcomed with traditional Ethiopian friendliness and hospitality. Jemila might be playing in one corner with one of her three older siblings, or perhaps she would be getting her hair done by an older relative. In Ethiopian homes, no blood relation is turned away.
With an apology, Jemila’s mother would offer us the best seat in the house, the edge of one of the two narrow beds in the room. A look around and a few questions later, we would begin to realize that we were witnessing a mother and father struggling mightily against tremendous odds to simply survive. In that second glance we would realize that this is a family at the very limit of its resources, barely able to provide for itself and teetering on the edge of hunger and disease.
Gradually we would come to understand that the cramped quarters that was the bedroom to all eight members of the household was just the very beginning of their troubles. Like trouble all over the world, it comes in bundles. Jemila’s mother was able to supplement the family income by washing clothes until her health deteriorated and she could no longer work. Sorbale Muktar, Jemila’s father, is an unskilled worker employed by the local neighborhood association. The pay for a daily laborer is low and the work is irregular.
To make things worse, Jemila’s grandmother is mentally ill and her delusion adds to the stress. The traditional kitchen area provided for the family, and the only place they have to prepare food, is shared by 30 neighbors. The toilet is shared between five families. Neither of these is an ideal solution for anyone and to say they are unhygienic is a dramatic understatement.
Jemila came to the Fregenet School in a sad state. She was underfed, lethargic, covered with a layer of dirt and had lice in her hair. The school social committee immediately selected her to be provided with a cleanliness packet. While still one of the neediest kids in her class, with regular meals and daily stimulation Jemila is now an active and eager learner showing progress in her grades.
As you can see, the education of a single child in a household cannot solve every problem. But the school is a light in the darkness for Jemila and for families in similarly desperate situations. With your help, we can continue to spread hope, confidence, knowledge, and the belief that education is part of the larger solution.
For more information and activities about our Foundation and our school, Fregenet Kidan Lehitsanat, check out our website www.fregenetfoundation.org. You can donate online or send a check payable to:
The Fregenet Foundation
901 South Flower Street, Unit 411
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Thank you for your continuing support.
Tafesse Woubshet, President
The Fregenet Foundation