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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. We have a new partnership with TechAfrica to bring computer technology to every student. Twende Solar Foundation in Portland, Oregon will bring their remarkable team to train the community and build solar power for our school to run those computers. 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 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. 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 and Apple Orchard
are now an integral part of the life sustaining education we provide to our students and the community. The vegetable gardens, apple orchard and bamboo nursery provide the community and our children with state of the art agricultural knowledge and training in growing their own 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. 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.
January 2022 Status:
Our big news is the generous and skilled nonprofit TWENDE SOLAR is now detailing their planning and raising the necessary funds to come and electrify our school. We have no lights, no way to run a computer, no way to show a child a whale or an elephant, no light in 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 will change the trajectory of education at our school with their gift of solar power and bringing their team who will train our community in solar construction and maintenance. We are deeply grateful for them. A whole new future will be available to our students and the entire community.
We have completed our first four classrooms and are serving 150 kindergarteners and first graders. During the long rainy season, we hosted the first elementary STEM program in a public school in Ethiopia and taught 72 students, aged 4 to 15. Dr. Abiyou Tilahun wrote the curriculum and supervised Debre Birhan University faculty as our professors. Project Manager, Fikeremariam Negash, was a critical support in all aspects.
The program was hugely successful and we are now hosting students in Saturday classes in our STEM program with open enrollment to interested children from our community. We now have 100 STEM students taught by the Debre Birhan University faculty.
Our demonstration apple orchard and bamboo propagation nursery, founded and supervised by Dr. Abiyou, are growing well and will add great economic and health benefits to our community. Our composting toilets are complete and functioning. They recycle waste back to the nutrient poor soil, as fertilizer. Our handwashing 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 handwashing has been critical to the good health and protection of the children and families during the pandemic.
The Israeli agricultural charity, CultivAid, gave us 1000 vegetable plants this summer and we are now planning a partnership to build a chicken farm together on our 10 acre site to get egg protein into the diets of the children and offer economic benefit for the community as a business.
STEMpower, Ethiopia, building STEM labs at every public university in Ethiopia, has given us funding for our own elementary school STEM lab, to be added to our next classroom building.
We are ready to begin construction on the next 4 classrooms as soon as the government compensates the farmers who gave land for 1/3 of the 10 acre site. The city budget to pay them has been promised for this year. 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.