by Sarah Borchers, UN World Food Programme
Borchers recently traveled with the WFP to a village in northern Ethiopia where sustainable agriculture programs are working.
Iíll never forget the sounds of the Endamino Primary School. Excited, high-pitched chatter pouring out of classroom windows and doors as students worked together on projects. My name being called out every so often by some of the younger girls who were just looking for a little wave and a smile before returning to their studies.
I had the privilege of spending three days at this school and the surrounding community of Atsbi Womberta in northern Ethiopia just a couple of weeks ago. When I say it was a privilege, I mean just that. Frankly, Iíve never seen a school quite like Endamino.
Students in grades 1 through 8 come here each day to learn math, science, Amharic and English. The school meal provided by the World Food Programme helps every boy and girl concentrate on class instead of hunger. These meals have helped Endamino achieve a 0% drop out rate over the past three years and an enrollment which is 53% female.
And thatís just the beginning! Students are learning to build fuel-efficient stoves out of locally available materials. Theyíre learning to make natural fertilizers and grow trees too. This hands-on knowledge is then taken home where children teach their parents, most of whom never had the opportunity to go to school themselves. Ask parents in this community to show you what their children have helped them build and youíll see the intense pride in their eyes.
In this way, the Endamino Primary School is teaching an entire community how to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. This area is also supported by WFP Food for Work projects, which enable mothers and fathers to bring home 3 kilos of grain each day for their families through activities such as planting trees and terracing hillsides. All of these efforts have worked together to make Atsbi Womberta fertile and green, while much of the rest of northern Ethiopia is dry and brown. Signs of drought are nowhere to be found here.
Students at Endamino are hopeful for the future; many of them want to be teachers when they grow up. To help nurture this, the school has started a program where kids in grades six through eight are actually trained to become tutors for younger students who canít make the trip each day to school. Armed only with a small chalkboard, these young teachers-in-the-making head out after class and on weekends to help ensure everyone gets an education.
Itís easy to see why teachers like Fana Teka canít wait to send their own children to school here. Each day they witness the change thatís beginning to happen in this community and each day this community becomes one step closer towards their goal of becoming completely self-sufficient. Iíll believe theyíll get there.
Click here to take this short quiz to learn more about how WFP projects are helping empower communities like Atsbi Womberta.†Youíll feed a child a school meal at the same time!
Photo credit: WFP/Rein Skullerud