The second installment of our last day in Kembata Tembaro.
We made our way to Mudula to meet with the local officials, visit the Degale library build site, and further pin-down where we will be building next year’s KG/library. Our first visit was with Ato Desta at the local worader office. Ejigu and I have a long and positive history with Ato Desta, so it was nice to catch up with him and his assistant. We spent nearly 40 minutes talking through this year’s accomplishments and next year’s Mudula based projects. Desta and his office are very supportive of the planned work, and our proving to be the most reliable officials Ejigu and I have worked with to date.
Since Ejigu and I's first visit 6 months ago, Desta and ER have worked together deciding where the One Moon KG will be placed. Through the process we have made sure to involve many layers of the local community. His office personnel, Ejigu and I have traveled to numerous communities in the area to preform ER’s needs assessments. The process involves many steps, some of which are visiting the community, meeting village elders and community leaders to discuss demographics, population numbers, and land availability. We have come to identify the obvious; KG's are needed everywhere. Thus placement is critical.
Within 18 kms going south of Mudula, there are 6 different communities ranging in size from 2- 4,000. We spent time in each of these communities and found that each's population could nearly fill a KG on its own. Families from communities like Koatana, Ferzano and Sigazoo seem to have 7 children on average, and those children have next to no opportunities for early childhood education. When the children reach the age of 5 or 6 they can then start making the pilgrimage to either Mudula's 1-8 schools or Ferzano's. The 12 or so km's between, offer nothing outside of a few scattered locations for informal and irregular and preschool tutorials. The need is everywhere... but available land is not.
Mudula and its surrounding communities are snugly tucked within SW Ethiopia’s densely wooded and farmed highlands. Open unused flat spaces are almost nonexistent, and for good reason. Timber is coveted, and agriculture largely sustains the families of the region. The few meda's (open field) that do exist, are owned by a very select few that sadly have no interest in giving up their prized grazing areas. Ideally the KG would be located in between Ferzano and Mudula, but there is simply no where to build but the schools 45- 40 meter (minimum) foot print. So ER, the worader office and the south of Mudula communities are discussing whether the best location is within Ferzano's very large 1-8 compound. We at ER feel that the location meets all of our KG/library criteria, and the community and worader office will finalize their own decision in next month’s mahabar (town hall like meeting). I’ll be sure to share.
One thing to note (because those familiar with how Ethiopia politics work are probably shaking their head thinking the community will have little to say in such matters), Ato Desta went out of his way to tell Ejigu and I that especially when working in education, involving the community is key; because as he put it, without popular community support any school will fail. A strong sentiment that hits home with ERs field team.
We spent an hour re-visiting the Ferzano school compound and meeting with school officials and teachers. Plenty of the following photos will help you get a feel of the potential site.
On the way out we also made sure to visit the Degale library site. The land is ready to be fenced in, and Ato Desta assured Ejigu and I there would be no issues in starting that work before the raining season. Another very positive trip to Mudula.
|Meeting with the head Worader official Ato Desta and his assistant... also named Desta|
|Everyone's favorite tree... Sorry just a lazy drive by|
|The usual greetings|
|Meeting the school director|
|Potential KG land for next years build|
|The school's compound is set up similar to Azedabo's. Lots of farmland rented |
out to the local community to help finance some of the school's costs
|Taking numbers of students, teachers, and dropout rates|
|Ferzano's very small and under-stocked library|
|I dont think many folks in Ethiopia feel the same way|
|Talking shop outside a home sometimes used for informal KG schooling|
|The Degale library space.|