Projects by Ethiopia Reads How you can help Ethiopia Reads Partners of Ethiopia Reads Contact Ethiopia Reads


Trip to Ethiopia

It was a trip I needed to take. It had been a while since my last visit to Ethiopia. After all, I grew up there in my formative years. Ethiopia has made me who I am today. So I longed to be there instead of trying to reminisce in vain. To spend some cherished time with my aging parents. But when I got there, my frozen memories were just that – frozen in time. So much has changed. Most of the physical landmarks of the capital city, Addis Ababa, I remember has altered its form. Looks like the city is growing like a cabbage, from the inside out. However, amidst all the construction craze and pseudo globalization, I am glad to find the same old tradition of Ethiopian caring. The ‘Chiger Yelem’ /don’t worry, we got you covered/ attitude. The strangers who are quick to respond, “Enen” when you stumble on a rock. The phrase “Enen” or “let it be me in place of you” sums up the fabric of the Ethiopian pure kindness. Or the old neighbors and relatives who insists on inviting me to their home for lunch or dinner and then pour out what seems like their life long savings to prepare the meal, tugs at my heart. The high cost of living is unbearable. It is hard to fathom how the regular folks walking down the street make it through the day. The more things change, the more they stay the same.


Because time and relatives had conspired against me, I didn’t visit the many government run primary schools that Ethiopia Reads actively participates in spreading literacy in Addis Ababa. I visited the Merkato /märekäto/ Kindergarten center and the Gebeta /gäbäta/ library in Kebena /käbäna/. But what I saw was enough to uplift me. At Merkato center, I saw a group of kids, aged may be 5 to 7, muslims and christians alike, dressed in tattered school uniforms and worn out shoes, getting ready for an after lunch nap. Yes, they have a napping room. My first feeling was melancholy as I sense the visible shackles of poverty engulfing them. But any such feeling I had started to quickly dissipate when the kids stood up and welcomed us with the brightest smiles and gleaming eyes. They were there, no matter how dire their home situation might look like. They arrive every morning for one common purpose - to escape the day with learning. To let their imagination carries them away like a kite on a strong wind. To let their minds be fed with knowledge. They do so by eagerly sharing their scared resources, their books. They come to the Kindergarten center and the library to learn, do homework, and get respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.


The older kids who come to the library, walk for miles from their respective schools. They come after school is let out for the day, around 3:30pm. Every day, they walk for miles, some of them close to 2 miles, knowing full well that what awaits them is nothing more than books and quite spaces. Their determination and focus to get there for the reward of reading is beyond ordinary.


It was easy to see me in their eyes. I saw their yearning to succeed. Their impressionable self. It warms the insides of my heart to see kids as young as 5 years old have an opportunity to flip a page of a book in a safe, comfortable and quiet environment. And all for free. They came in twos and threes. Their unprompted decision to step into the gates of the compound where the library stands is heartening. It seems, they have understood that books can take them to places further than their imagination and can expand their minds with knowledge. Growing up, a library in your neighborhood and the very idea of spending time there, would have been an impalpable dream. One of the young boys who was doing his homework at the library is a 3rd grader. The librarian said he is one of the regular attendees of the Gebeta library. He is even a star library attendant with his name on the wall because he is also well-mannered and knows how to properly handle books. However, I noticed, this boy was really struggling to do his English homework. I wished I could stay there and help him be a star student as well. But I think that is where the athletes who come to the library regularly help alleviate. The librarian who was a former athlete herself does just more than keep order in the library. She infuses knowledge through songs and help with struggling students.


I was impressed with Ethiopia Reads staff, a group of dedicated staff: guards, receptionist, office managers, librarian, and teachers who serve with a sense of purpose and pride. Filled with shy smiles on their faces that harbors many untold stories, these helpers dedicate themselves day-in and day-out. Without realizing it, inch by inch, they are pushing the human race forward with literacy. I was proud to be a part of such a movement. I am inspired to do my best.


I leave you with this quote "People who think they are crazy enough to change the world are the ones who do." ~ Steve Jobs, founder Apple of Computers.


Blog Post by Betty Gronneberg



Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Kirkirbul's Story

It is Back to School Time in Ethiopia. The school library is a place for students to study and build literacy skills. We would like to introduce you to Kirkirbul , a 13 yr old boy who attended 8th grade last year at the Ethiopia Reads partner school Kelem Amba Primary in Addis Ababa.

Kirkirbul makes good use of the library by spending four and half hours, after school, every week. He’s currently reading an Amharic novel called ‘Fikr Eske Mekaber’ (‘Love Till Death’).

"I like it because the story is beautiful, like Sebele Wengel, the main character. She has many past struggles and she talks about them while crying. She’s not wealthy, I can relate to that. I feel sad for her. I know she will pass through her struggles because she has children and I believe that she has hope that they will be educated. I think as they grow older, they will want to help their mother because they love her. I live with my mother and father and when I grow up, I want to help them by being educated and graduating in engineering and getting a good job."

Please donate to our Back to School Campaign and help us support students like Kirkirbul, a student at Ethiopia Reads partner school Kelem Amba Primary last year. 


Unsubscribe from this email list





Monday, September 08, 2014


August 2014 Newsletter




Ethiopia Reads collaborates with Ethiopian communities to build schools, plant libraries, teach teachers, boost literacy and provide youth and families with the tools to improve their lives.

Ethiopia Reads empowers and strengthens communities through the art of learning and the science of teaching. We believe that providing quality schools, books and learning initiatives that engage both the creative and logical mind will lead to a more resourceful generation of leaders in Ethiopia.



The Gebeta Children Library has been serving the children in the Kebena neighborhood of Addis Ababa since its establishment on September 25, 2013. It is open from Monday to Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Most of the users are from kindergarten – Grade 7 and their ages vary from 3 – 13. Almost all of the users are students who come to the library after school-time. There’s a regular read-aloud program on Tuesdays and the children are allowed to play puzzles and board games every Wednesday. The rest of the week they’ll read books they like or do homework.

Ethiopia Reads has worked to create a reading culture in Ethiopia by planting and establishing over 60 libraries in communities and government schools throughout the country. School book clubs are formed to encourage student involvement in the libraries. Teacher and library training is provided to help educators create ways to encourage young students to read and expand their minds. Over 250,000 books have been shipped to Ethiopia for use in Ethiopia Reads’ libraries.



Graduation is a time of celebration for the students who attend Ethiopia Reads schools. It is a joyful occasion for parents who can participate in the academic growth of their children. According to Ethiopia Reads executive director "School graduations are the most important time of the year for students and families. They can celebrate their accomplishment and build upon their educational foundation at the next school they attend" says Ethiopia Reads Executive Director, Dana Roskey.



RJ and Teresa Devick are generously supporting Team Tesfa with financial support and a donation of New Balance Shoes from Schuler Shoes. RJ and Teresa are the parents of three children, Grace, Claire who was adopted from Korea, and Aster who was adopted from Ethiopia. RJ is the owner of Bond and Devick, a financial planning firm in St Louis Park, MN.

The Devicks’ generous donation will help Ethiopia Reads implement a second phase to the Women Athletes for Literacy and Learning (WALL) program. The WALL Program places young athletes in schools and school libraries to assist and to mentor children. With training and support from Ethiopia Reads staff in Addis Ababa, women athletes lead reading circles in primary school libraries and classrooms. They lead in the formation of book clubs. They assist school staff. Phase one last year had an immediate impact on schools and libraries.



Awasa is the capital of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region and is a special zone of this region. Ethiopia Reads has had active programming in the city and its surrounding area for more than eight years, including the Awasa Reading Center. Our programming has made a direct impact on the community and has helped develop a culture of literacy and learning.

The city lies on the shores of Lake Awasa in the Great Rift Valley. Located 270 km south of Addis Ababa via Debre Zeit, 130 km east of Sodo, 75 km north of Dilla and 1125 km north of Nairobi. Awasa is Fishing is a major industry in Awasa. The Awasa Reading Center, An Ethiopia Reads Library is located in Awasa.


Unsubscribe from this email list





Sunday, August 10, 2014


Sponsorship Programs in Ethiopia

The Ethiopia Reads sponsorship program supports about 1,000 students in our five schools. This program offers an opportunity to support schools financially, while getting to know more about the lives of the teachers, children, and families among the communities served. Many students need school supplies, toys, and shoes.  We are looking for volunteers and donors who want to be a part of our sponsorship program.  There is a great need among our student population. As an organization, we want to help support families and create long term opportunities educationally and socially. 

One of Ethiopia Reads’ board members, Lacey Yantis who is an adoptive mom of a 2 year-old boy from Woliso and Kristen Stetar- Pilliteri who also is an adoptive mom of a 3 year-old boy from Woliso started a Care Point program. Kristen was gracious enough to write about her work in developing the Care Point and its impact on the Woliso community.

I visited Woliso, Ethiopia for the first time two years ago and fell in love. That first trip was to visit my son’s birthplace. I’ve since returned to participate in the birth of a movement that will ultimately rewrite the stories of more than 150 children and their families. 

After adopting our son, I couldn’t stop thinking about his beautiful hometown, a two and a half hour drive southwest of Addis Ababa. I wanted to do something to keep families together, to empower children to rise above their circumstances and tap into the power of education. 

Fellow adoptive mom and friend, Lacey Yantis and I partnered with Children’s HopeChest to start the first CarePoint in Woliso. HopeChest staff on the ground in Ethiopia vetted several sites before settling on Emmanuel Church. They then went to work identifying 151 of the most needy and vulnerable children in the community surrounding the church. Lacey and I sought out sponsors for these children and within seven months, reached full sponsorship. This feat was perfectly timed, as our first visit to the CarePoint also took place seven months after our program launched. 

I had no idea what to expect. I had never seen the CarePoint site before, except in a few photos. As our van pulled up to the church, several adults stood smiling, eager to embrace and welcome us. As the driver turned the van off, we could hear music. Walking into the church, 151 tiny children stood clapping and singing, flashing smiles and waving as our eyes met. A greeting I will never forget! Laying eyes on these beautiful children for the first time was such a thrill! I had memorized so many of their faces and names from their photos on our website, and here we were face to face. Knowing they were assembled because of the hard work of so many people and the generosity of 151 sponsors – simply amazing!

We spent the next four days building relationships, embracing, smiling, playing, singing, dancing, even painting! The best part, though, was the visible changes already afoot for these children. Many were wearing brand new, sturdy sneakers they had received through the sponsorship program. Shoes are so important to health in countries like Ethiopia. Additionally, they are necessary to attend school. These shoes were giving a chance to kids who might not have had one otherwise. 

We heard many difficult stories as we visited the homes of several children. Their lives are not easy. Many live in cramped, one-room quarters with four or five other family members. The cost of cooking oil is currently the same price as the average rent. We met single parents, older siblings, aunts and uncles all doing the best they can to care for children in this community. Being thanked by these bold and courageous people was beyond humbling. While these homes may be barren, the hearts of those who dwell in them seemed so full. So loving. So welcoming. There are so many lessons to be learned from these families. I am so grateful that my future is entwined with theirs. I will watch these families grow and change, and hopefully, thrive as our Children’s HopeChest CarePoint leads them to the ultimate goal, self-sustainability.   



Monday, July 28, 2014


Build the Dream-Bay Area Benefit Dinner

Monday, June 09, 2014


Ethiopia Reads 2014 Spring Newsletter




Our vision is to empower and strengthen communities through the art of learning and the science of teaching. We believe that providing quality schools, books and learning initiatives that engage both the creative and logical mind will lead to a more resourceful generation of leaders in Ethiopia. We invite you to join us in that endeavor.



School Profile—Mercato District

The Old Sarum School in the Mercato District of Addis Ababa provides a quality education for some of the neediest families in the capital city. The school serves 70 students, of which 45 are female and 25 are male. The kindergarten program at the Old Sarum School prepares these students to perform academically. The school library promotes early literacy among students. Another key goal of the Old Sarum School is to provide disadvantaged children with the resources they need to attend school, including uniforms, tutorials, nutrition, and access to other programs that will support their academic success.


Donor Profile—Bradenton, Florida

Congratulations to Ashlie Fulmer and the Carlos Haile Middle School in Bradenton, Florida for raising over $6,000 for the Horse Powered Literacy Program! Ashlie, a sixth grade language arts teacher, and her husband adopted their son from Ethiopia in 2010. Over 1,000 students and 88 faculty members at Carlos Haile participated in a read-a-thon on December 20, 2013. Students who donated $15 or more were able to participate in the Reading Cafe. In the cafe, over 400 students read and enjoyed cold drinks donated by Starbucks and Smoothie King. Reading crosses borders and continents from Florida to Ethiopia.


Country Profile—Ethiopia

Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world and the second largest country by population in Africa. Ethiopia is the only African country to defeat a colonial power and retain its independence. Agriculture is a central part of Ethiopia's economy. Coffee is a major export crop and source of employment for Ethiopians.



Unsubscribe from this email list





Thursday, May 15, 2014


Ethiopia Reads - December 2013 Newsletter


This past September, the new Gebeta Community Library opened in Addis Ababa. It was a day of celebration for Ethiopia Reads and our supporters as children in the capital city flocked into the cozy space located in our new office complex in the Kebena neighborhood of Addis Ababa. Executive Director Dana Roskey said, “We are excited to realize our goal of offering children a safe haven to read and have quiet time from the streets in Addis. We’ve done this in Awassa for a while, but we’ve really wanted to bring this model to the capital as well.”


The library focuses on educational books and literature for younger children in early grades, a resource that needs much supplementation in Ethiopia. Children are welcome to come enjoy the books in a peaceful and safe environment while improving literacy skills. Young women from our Women Athletes for Literacy and Learning (WALL) program will also now have a place to practice mentorship and teaching. We anticipate a lot of traffic as kids come in to explore and learn.


Gebeta means the platter on which the food is served in Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia. Board member Betty Gronneberg said, to her, the Gebeta library symbolizes a place where “your brain [may] be fed and grow with the platter of dishes that is our books. That is what Gebeta is all about; coming together for the purpose of nourishment, socializing and satisfaction.”


To donate to Ethiopia Reads and support more projects like the Gebeta Community Children's Library please click here.




Gift Cards


Purchase Books



Ethiopia Reads

PO Box 581302

Minneapolis MN 55458









The 2013-14 school year is off to a remarkable start. The Azedabo and Fundame library-kindergarten centers opened their doors to students for the first time this fall with a flurry of excitement. Over 200 students attend each school and many youngsters are eager to get their chance to enter the doors next year. The Kololo school, now in it’s second year, is thriving with students and teachers as well.


Two Horse-Powered Literacy projects are fully operational in the Kembata-Tembaro region. Although not schools in a traditional capacity, the HPL facilitators reach kids who don’t have access to schools or books and provide lessons in Amharic, English, Science and Math – promoting literacy and a chance for education.


The Kembata-Tembaro Initiative (KTI) began in 2011 when the Tesfa Foundation, with support from Ethiopia Reads, built a primary school in the Kololo area of Kembata-Tembaro, opening for students in fall of 2012. Ethiopia Reads is now setting out to build a community library and five new learning centers for children in the Kembata-Tembaro region of Ethiopia. Ongoing community assessments and conversations with local families are pointing to a huge need for kindergarten and library resources in order to turn learning into a life-changing experience for rural Ethiopian children. News spaces, professional development for educators, books and other literacy materials (in both English and local languages) will support young learners in a country where most children learn to ready by rote and pointing to letters on a chart, but have no books to read. We can help change that reality.


The successful maintenance of our schools, especially our rural schools, depends heavily on your support. If you would like to help keep a child in school by becoming a School Sponsor and pledging $21 per month or $252 per year, please click here.



We’ve seen great success this year with our schools, libraries, horse-powered literacy and sports for development programs - and it can be attributed to you, our generous donors. Ethiopia Reads is proud of 2013, which saw amazing progress and success. As you can see, your support helped us do big things.

  • We served 120,000 children.

  • We built two new library-kindergarten centers that serve 200 children each.

  • We continued to operate three model schools of our own in three different regions of the country.

  • We’ve distributed over 95,500 books since 2011.

  • We maintained and strengthened our 65 school libraries.

  • We finished a project to plant one school library in each region of Ethiopia.

  • We reached 1,850 educators with new literacy skills during the launch of our training program over the past two years.

  • We supported and mentored the young women and girls on our team of runners.

  • We launched two Horse-Powered Libraries for hundreds of rural kids who have no access to school.

We are proud of what we’ve achieved and look forward to touching the lives of more children in the future. But we can’t do it without you. Your end of year gift will help Ethiopia Reads plant more libraries, build more schools, train more teachers, and support more young athletes.


Please help us secure a strong future for Ethiopia Reads.


Women Athletes for Literacy and Learning (WALL) is a new model for the athlete development program. In addition to mentoring our athletes throughout school, we now give them opportunities to mentor and teach the kids within our Ethiopia Reads schools and libraries to enhance positive career training. This full-circle educational loop creates a bonding experience between the young athlete and the child who is from a similar circumstance to what she may have once been in. It mutually reinforces their opportunities for successful futures and fosters a warm and inviting environment inside our libraries. We look forward to watching this exciting program develop.


Unsubscribe from this email list



Ethiopia Reads | PO Box 581302, Minneapolis, MN 55458 | Office: 612-354-2184



Monday, December 30, 2013


The Gebeta Community Children's Library Brings Books to the Kids of Addis Ababa!

September 25th was a day of celebration for the Ethiopia Reads and supporters as children in the capital city of Addis Ababa made their way into the new Gebeta Community Childrens' Library. Located in our new office complex in the Kebena neighborhood of Addis Ababa, the library was generously sponsored by Gone Reading, an international LLC that donates 100% of after tax profits to funding for libraries around the world.  


Wednesday, October 02, 2013


The Logiya Library: A Community Success

Last year, we initiated the "Walk for Logiya Library Project" to establish a functional library in Logiya Primary School in the Afar region of Ethiopia. With the generous support and dedication of numerous donors and volunteers, we were able to raise close to $8000 towards the goal of establishing the library. This summer, the staff at Ethiopia Reads sent some pictures of the furniture and books that were delivered to the school.  We were ecstatic with the result and wanted to share the news. We could never have done it without you. You are the reason for the successful implementation of this project.  We want you to be proud of your accomplishment, and the accomplishment of your children who played a big role in this project.   


Wednesday, September 04, 2013


Ethiopia Reads - June 2013 Newsletter

As summer spreads across North America, the rain clouds are blooming over Ethiopia signaling an end to another productive Ethiopia Reads building season. We’ve made exciting progress on our Kembata-Tembaro School Initiatives this year – completing three schools/libraries in the Kembata-Tembaro region of Southern Ethiopia. Our Horse-Powered Literacy (formerly Donkey Mobile Library) program has a new life, and the Awassa Reading Center has a new home. Our schools and libraries across Ethiopia continue to thrive as we continue to look for more opportunities to expand literacy and education.




Gift Cards


Purchase Books



Ethiopia Reads

PO Box 581302

Minneapolis MN 55458








The Fundame School and Library

In Fundame, community members banded together with Ethiopia Reads to create a structure that will serve the population for generations. This beautiful new addition to Fundame’s current 1st through 8th grade school will provide greatly needed kindergarten education for the local children, as well as a base for further Ethiopia Reads programming in the area.


Previously, children entered first grade with little to no exposure to even the fidel (alphabet). As a result, students quickly fell behind resulting in high student dropout rates at an early age. Those that did continue on were not prepared to meet national testing standards, and go on to high school and college. Exposing young children to early education can make a dramatic difference in that child’s life, giving them a more likely chance of succeeding.


The school itself is almost completely built of organic materials. A sturdy wooden frame supports the school’s walls and corrugated roofing. Walls consist of split timbers with multiple coatings of cob and plaster on the interior and cob and cement on the exterior. The flooring is created by the construction of a large cement slab sitting on top of a foundation of tightly compacted boulders. Kembatan artisans make doors and windows locally, and 100% of the organic material used in the school construction was procured within five kilometers of where the school sits.


Construction took place during the first quarter of this year with opening celebrations on Friday, April 12th.


Please see our Project Manager Cien Keilty-Lucas’ blog to read about the celebration. Warning, the celebration does include visuals of the preparation of a goat for the celebration feast.



The Azedabo School and Library

Thursday April 11th was a day's devoted to celebrating the completion of the Azedabo Kindergarten and Library. The school represents one of the only early-education schools in the area and the library is much needed in a place where books are almost impossible to come by.


Village elders, community leaders, teachers, administrators, local government officials, and much of our workforce were invited to the days greatly anticipated program. The community was elated to show off their hard work, and joyously celebrate a new beginning to Azedebo's education culture. People came from as far as two hours away to enjoy the festivities, and all who were in attendance were gleaming with awe and appreciation of the communities’ work.


Local officials and Ethiopia Reads representatives were in attendance to thank the community for their hard work. As with every one of Ethiopia Read's completion parties, the occasion was marked with shared stories from the community and a delicious feast. Each guest left with a smile, a full stomach and a heart full of inspiration.


All of the photos in this story come from Cien’s work at the school sites.



Ethiopia Reads’ Horse-Powered Literacy (HPL) program brings teachers and materials to very rural and difficult to reach communities. Currently the program has two hubs. One in Ekodaga, and the other in Kololo. The facilitators travel via horse, donkey or motorbike upwards of 12 miles to small villages with little to no access to educational materials. The facilitator reads Amharic children’s books to the participants and leads the kids through alphabet and basic number exercises. After just a few weeks, once illiterate children begin to sound out words, and soon after read along with the HPL facilitator. The programming successfully introduces reading culture to education barren communities. More importantly, the HPL shares the power of literacy, which soon begets an overwhelming thirst for learning.


The photos show an HPL session that recently took place in Tupa, Northern Ambakuna. Lagessa, the facilitator, has been leading these classes for over three months. He visits three different communities twice a week spending up to 3 hours with the students. Each of the visited communities is located within very challenging terrain, yet that doesn't keep students from bounding into the village compelled to hear another story from the man on the horse. Lagessa is averaging around 280 students per session! Yes, 280 students ranging from the age of 3 to teenagers. This program is amazing. The more support we receive, the more we can grow wonderful literacy programs like HPL.


Please click here to make a donation to Ethiopia Reads.


We are pleased to announce the hiring of Ms. Mekdelawit Berhanu as Ethiopia Reads’ Schools Officer in the Addis Ababa office. Her duties will be to oversee efficient operations and high standards in our school programming. Ethiopia Reads has founded and now operates five schools in three regions of Ethiopia – Oromiya, Addis Ababa and in the Kembata-Tembaro region in Southern Ethiopia.


Mekdelawit graduated in Computer Science with a Diploma from HiLCoE School of Computer Science and Technology in February 2004 and with a Degree in Educational Psychology from the Addis Ababa University in July 2012. Mekdelawit has been working as a kindergarten teacher at the School of Tomorrow for four years between 2004 and 2008, as well as at the Children’s Home Academy for four years between 2008 and 2012. She also worked at the International Crisis Aid as a Basic Computer Skills teacher, report writer and character formation teacher.


Mekdelawit has a strong belief in education. She says, “I believe that education must be given for all people regardless of age and ethnicity. Education is a light for those who are in darkness, and it is a way of transformation. Education can change the way people think. It gives broader concepts about everything, and it leads people to have good perception”.


We are eager to see the positive energy that Mekdelawit is sure to bring to our schools and our organization. We welcome her warmly and wish her a bright future with Ethiopia Reads.





Tuesday, June 11, 2013


1 2 3 4 5 .. 7 Next

Recent Posts




    Home   |   About   |   Projects   |   News   |   Events   |   How You Can Help   |   Partners   |   Contact

    Privacy Policy   |   Terms of Use   |   Site Map

    Copyright © Ethiopia Reads. All Rights Reserved.
    Ethiopia Reads is a registered 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit organization.