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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.




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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


“American Girl” Helps Ethiopians to Read

A meet and greet with  “American Girl” author Jane Kurtz Saturday afternoon in Hays brought  many of her young fans to the FHSU Robbins Center.  They brought along their own American Girl dolls, and their moms. 


Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Help Keep The Doors of the Awassa Reading Center Open!

The Awassa Reading Center is a rare public library full of eager, young readers in southern Ethiopia. Its purpose is to create a safe, inviting and resource-rich reading space for children in a place where many have never held a book. Donations have fueled this library for seven years, and we hope to keep it going for many more. 


Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Our Hearts Are With The Community Of Newtown, CT.

We all at Ethiopia Reads send our love and thoughts to the families and friends of those directly affected by the incident in Connecticut. Centers of education the world round can be magical places that inspire and ignite a spark that can one day change the world. As concerned parents, educators, students, politicians, citizens, let us walk away from the blame game’s and come together to ensure that our children are safe in and outside of our schools. 


Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Walk for Logiya Project



Thursday, September 27, 2012


Town of Runners

I visited Ethiopia in the summer of 2011. What an amazing adventure! I was enamored with the coffee ceremony. I was intrigued by Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, where runners gather to train. And I was blown away by the literacy work of Ethiopia Reads and determined to continue to support their mission. 


Friday, July 20, 2012


Same mission... Stronger umbrella. The Tesfa Foundation is joining Ethiopia Reads.

In 2010, Dana Roskey, founder of the Tesfa Foundation did an assessment of Ethiopia Reads programs, creating a report for the board of directors about which projects were working well and which projects could use re-design or changes. The board was impressed by Dana's thoughtful suggestions and his thrifty ways—taking the public bus to Awassa when needed for instance—and his willingness to spend many hours talking with officials, donors, and with people in local Ethiopian communities to craft individual projects that fit local circumstances and opportunities. 


Monday, July 02, 2012


Brilliant fundraising idea: Bring A Book, Buy A Book!



Thursday, April 26, 2012


Heritage Camp kids take the initiative

Here's a letter we received from the proud Executive Director of the Heritage Camp. A big thank you to our amazing young supporters! 


Friday, April 13, 2012


Inspired youth supports his father's childhood school in Ethiopia

Please enjoy this letter to Ethiopia Reads from the rightfully proud mother of young fundraiser Alexander Desta (pictured). A big thank you to Alex for his incredible work to support literacy in Ethiopia! We're very grateful to have supporters like you. 


Friday, March 09, 2012


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