Maya's Trip to Ethiopia, Part III: Visiting the School

By: Maya Haile

Today I discuss the final part of my journey to Ethiopia. After giving out our donations at Togojalya, I decided to visit further deep into Somaliland. We were advised that since it was Muslim land that my arms and legs must be covered in order to be allowed to enter. I had just regular clothing so I had to improvise. I found a quick solution when we found a street tailor that could make me a quick garment. I bought the fabric and within a few moments, I had a handmade dress made from native fabric that I could wear when crossing the Muslim lands. I also had a scarf with me that I could wear, so I felt like I fit in. I was happy to be able to partake of the local culture at least with my clothing; especially being in Ethiopia and Somalia, since both cultures are so similar, so I was super happy to follow their culture.

When we went further into that area, we visited the children's school. But their school was nothing like we know a school to be, in fact it was technically just two trees. All of the children of the village, from ages 4-20, come and gather around these two trees to study the day's lessons. There is no house or building, they simply gather at the trees and bring their animals with them (the ones that they are in charge to take care of), which they let graze in the fields. The boys sit separate from the girls, and there are about 60 kids, so about 30 girls and 30 boys. They don't even have a teacher, instead an older child or teenager leads their group in reciting the alphabet and in counting numbers. Every child, no matter what age, repeats the same lesson the whole day and at the end of the day, they gather their animals and return home. They also will carry water with them home at that time too.

It was beautiful to see that the children of the village have some form of education, but it was disheartening to see that they had no school. The village also has no clinic. Some of the villagers told me that they would have to walk 30 kilometers (18 miles) to a nearby village or clinic for just pain-killers or Advil. Yet, these were some of the kindest and humblest people I have ever encountered. Even when we offered them the food donations, they got together and brought over 3 goats to give us as a present in gratitude for the food. Of course, we didn't accept them but even during their time of most need, they are still a very grateful people.

As an Ethiopian, I feel very lucky, not only to visit my homeland, but very lucky for the blessings I've had in my life. I've gotten the chance to live in Europe and in America, and I also have good friends and family that also care about where I came from and also want to help. I believe if we use our connections more, we can help more people, not only in Ethiopia, but in all parts of the world that are in such need of basic necessities like food, water, shelter, education, and health care. In our case, the government of Ethiopia was very open to our help and donations, so it was proof that helping others in need doesn't have to be that difficult.

I know that together we can someday help bring clean water and food to all those in need. I wish at this moment I could help those tribes better water and possibly build the children a school, and with support from our friends and good-hearted people we can hopefully do that soon!

For more information on the famine in the Horn of Africa, click here. Also visit here, for ways you can help.

Photos: Abraham Wolde of Balageru Records

A big thank you goes out to all of those that helped me in my journey, including the photographer and videographer Abraham Wolde, and all others who helped me bring aid to the most affected in Ethiopia. Thank you!

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