Read below for an update from a group of American educators on a tour through Ethiopian schools and historic sites. Led by Fregenet Foundation board member Chris Kurtz, shop the group is reporting regularly on their experiences on their group blog.
A Visit to the Fregenet School – June 23, adiposity 2011
Upon graduating from university in the United States, Leeza Fregenet had been determined to return to Ethiopia and begin working on her dream- creating educational opportunities for young people in her home country. A fatal automobile accident cut short that dream. Her father, however, kept that dream from dying with her by funding the Fregenet K-4 school in one of the poorer neighborhoods of Addis Ababa. This morning we drove to that neighborhood and had the joyful opportunity to visit with some of the nearly 200 students and staff members of the school.
The car wound its way through the neighborhood of corrugated tin-roofed shacks until we couldn’t drive any closer. We then walked up a stone drainage/alley way to the gates of the school yard. When we entered through the steel door amidst the laughter of kids, any unease we felt was left in the alley.
Greeted warmly by staff, whom Carol had met last summer during her Fulbright-Moore trip, we were ushered into a pre-k classroom where a mix of older and younger boys and girls were enthusiastically practicing traditional African dance in preparation for their end-of-year celebration. Much to the excitement of the kids and the joyful dismay of the staff, we joined in with the dancers. We followed that display of cultural flexibility with a bit of recess on the jungle gym, some reading time in the school library … and a visit to the principal’s office where we heard of the progress and the needs of the school and lamented budget cuts (imagine that) that have resulted in the end of funding for the school lunch program by the Feed the Children foundation. Kids still receive a meal (for some of them the only hot meal of the day), but the shopping for the food is covered from the schools general budget.
We waved good-bye to the students as they were enjoying their lunch, and headed back into the central city, contemplating how we might help this school, these kids, and wondering at the amazing sacrifices that have been made to help create the glimmer of hope that education brings to the lives of children like these here and throughout the country.