Please visit Facebook for our latest updates: The Community Project: Ethiopia 

The Community School

will include grades K-8, and serve an estimated 1,000-1,200 students when complete. Education is the focus of the project, and the school its centerpiece. The goal is for children and families to use the school campus to expand their knowledge, learn first hand agricultural and energy conservation techniques, analytical thinking and grow the skills to lead successful lives of contribution. Micro enterprise is being developed to sustain the school to replace solar batteries, make repairs, buy books.

We have a partnership with TechLitAfrica to bring computer technology to every student, learning to use computers given to us by Engineers Without Borders, to become digitally literate.  Twende Solar Foundation in Portland, Oregon has trained our Ethiopian team in Portland and has shipped a complete solar system to our school, which is now installed. Our team will train our community to manage this generous gift now that it is functional.  Opportunity, fueled with solar power, will give our students the chance to soar.

The Community Center

will be a micro-enterprise center to help people of all ages connect and thrive. The large community center will house a community library, space for adult literacy classes, community meals, health clinics, celebrations, and computer-skills training for all ages. There is no existing sheltered public place for families and students to come together in our area. This center of learning and enterprise will be a home for community support and strength, building bonds to know each others’ children and take advantage of robust communal capacity.  Our local farmers have asked us to help them train in vocational skills to augment their farm income. A sheltered place for the community, powered with solar energy will give immeasurable opportunity to the community to build economic stability.

The Classroom Gardens, Bamboo Nursery, Apple Orchard, and Vegetable Farm

are now an integral part of the life sustaining education we provide to our students and the community. The bamboo nursery, apple orchards, and vegetable farm provide the community and our children with state of the art agricultural knowledge and training in growing their own construction materials, healthy vegetables, fruits and herbs.

The bamboo nursery is a research propagation project to supply the local farmers with a new and beneficially economic crop. Bamboo is used as a construction material for houses and furniture, as biofuel and the young shoots can be eaten. We plan workshops for local farmers to train them in bamboo farming.

Our apple orchards promise to yield a new economic and nutrient-rich crop to our region. And our new this year vegetable farm is adding hundreds of pounds of nutritious vegetables for market to benefit refugees pouring into Debre Birhan at this time.

Our esteemed plant biologist and biodiversity manager, Debre Birhan University professor, Dr. Abiyou Tilahun, continues to expand the agricultural knowledge and economic foundation to support the community.

June 2024  Status:

The generous and skilled nonprofit TWENDE SOLAR has shipped solar capacity materials to our school from their home base in Portland, Oregon, and we have completed the installation. Twende hosted our Ethiopian team in Portland and trained us to lead our Debre Birhan community to install solar capability at our school. We now have power!  Thanks to our generous donors we have light. We are now able to run computers, charge power tools, run a projector, light the microscope.

TWENDE SOLAR is the charitable arm of the geniuses at ELEMENTAL ENERGY in Portland, Oregon, committed to bring solar power to communities in need. They are changing the trajectory of education at our school with their gift of solar power and by hosting training our community in solar construction and maintenance. We are deeply grateful. A whole new future is now available to our students and the entire community.

We host the first elementary STEM program in a public school in Ethiopia and now teach 280 students in grades 1-12. Dr. Abiyou Tilahun writes the curriculum and supervises Debre Birhan University faculty who are our professors. Project Manager, Fikeremariam Negash, is the project manager directing all construction. 

Our demonstration apple orchards and bamboo propagation nursery, founded and supervised by Dr. Abiyou, are growing well and will add great economic and health benefits to our community. We planted and constructed a high density apple orchard to demonstrate this high yield technique to maximize the harvest and grow as a micro business. 

Our composting toilets are complete and functioning. They recycle waste back to the nutrient poor soil, as fertilizer. Our hand washing station, built by Engineers Without Borders and generously funded by ADK, the international organization of women educators, is a key to sanitation and good health at the school. Access to hand washing has been critical to the good health and protection of the children and families during the pandemic and every day. 

STEMpower, Ethiopia, building STEM labs at every public university in Ethiopia, has given us funding for our own elementary school STEM lab. Engineers Without Borders and Haley & Aldrich, environmental engineers, have given us a whole classroom of laptops for our computer lab. 

We are under construction on the third 4-classroom building and we have added 2000 square meters of vegetable farm, watered year round with flood irrigation to feed more people.

Challenged during this period in Ethiopia, we continue to move enthusiastically forward.  We are grateful for Architects and Engineers Without Borders who continue to be our skilled advisory team, working with the local community for advanced and sustainable solutions.