A school for Deaf children opens in Shinshicho, Ethiopia, where Holt is working to strengthen many struggling families. Holt is now raising funds to help support the school.
by LaDonna Greiner, Director of Donor Relations
Imagine opening a school with the anticipation of 50 students and 500 show up! That’s what happened three years ago in the Kambata district of Ethiopia, when a local resident opened a school for the Deaf in the town of Shinshicho – where Holt serves many children and families.
No one knows exactly how many Deaf children there are in the area since they seldom venture far from their home. Nor do they know why the numbers are so high in this region. Could it be linked to the high incidence of malaria? Is it genetic? It’s difficult to say. But we do know that at least 500 hearing-impaired children live in Shinshicho. And the school only has room for 200 of them.
Many children walk several kilometers each day to get to the school. As they don’t have money or food for the midday snack, the school tries to provide them with tea and bread. During the week, the children study sign language, English, math and other subjects taught by Deaf teachers who are compensated by the government. On Saturday, the school holds classes to help the children’s parents learn sign language and other skills needed to raise Deaf children. Just like the children, their parents walk long distances to attend the class and aren’t able to bring food or money for lunch.
Although they have few resources, many of these children and their families benefit from Holt’s services in the region. Through our family strengthening program, many of the families have received livestock to generate income – giving them the means to support their children. And with the help of Holt sponsors, their children receive clothing, school supplies and other vital resources. But not until now have Deaf children in the program had an opportunity to receive an education!
This school represents a true coming together of the community to address a problem. A local Ethiopian has generously donated the use of two buildings housing four classrooms. He’s constructing two additional buildings, one to make room for more students and another to serve as a multi-purpose room for larger parenting classes and group activities.
Never before has this population of children had access to education. It is exciting to see the smiling faces of the children as they interact in the classroom; they love the opportunity to become educated like other children and look to the future with promise and hope.
If you would like to help Deaf children in Shinshicho, Ethiopia, please contact LaDonna Greiner or go online to www.holtinternational.org, click on “Give” and enter “Ethiopia Deaf School” in the comment section. Funds will help provide uniforms, school supplies, shoes, school desks, charts and other needs.