It Takes a Village: Holt Sponsors Change Lives in Ethiopia

Shinshicho — a district capital in southern Ethiopia.

Ten years ago, Holt sponsors began supporting children and families in the impoverished community of Shinshicho — a district capital in southern Ethiopia where goats and cattle still roam the unpaved roads that lead through town, few homes or businesses have electricity or running water, and donkeys are the primary mode of transportation.

Here, as throughout Ethiopia, years of civil war and drought have robbed many families of their livelihoods, while famine and illness have robbed many children of their parents. Most families in rural Ethiopia subsist on what they can grow on small plots of land, which is often just barely enough to feed their families. But in 2008, when Holt began working alongside local leaders and community elders, life began to change for many children and families in Shinshicho. Continue reading “It Takes a Village: Holt Sponsors Change Lives in Ethiopia”

Ethiopia students return to school with Holt’s support

In Ethiopia, students head to school this month with support from their Holt sponsors and donors — some for the first time.

Through our work with vulnerable families in Shinshicho, Holt found that many children who start school — even at 5 or 6 years old — weren’t prepared for classes. They lacked an understanding of structure, routine and basic, preschool-appropriate knowledge. In response, we partnered with the community of Shinshicho to support the first Kindergarten in the region.

In the first week of September, the dark mass of stormy skies over Shinshicho finally breaks apart, however briefly.

There is still a 90 percent chance of rain again today, the first day of school, as there has been for nearly three months. Between the thunderstorms, wind and seemingly endless rain, the dirt roads are washed out and muddy, with deep puddles blocking even the most major roadways.

Soon, though, the rainy season will change — returning to a hot and dry dust storm and droughts that make farmers curse their land.

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Tigabu signs “I love you” to a Holt staff visitor.

Born sixth in a family with seven children, 9-year-old Tigabu has more than once wondered if, indeed, his family is cursed. His parents are subsistence farmers who struggle to afford even basic necessities, like food or clothing. His four sisters and two brothers help where they can to earn extra income for the family, but that often means skipping class to help their parents harvest or carry crops to market.

Until recently, however, Tigabu and his siblings had no school to miss. Their opportunity to attend school is a new one. Continue reading “Ethiopia students return to school with Holt’s support”