The kids at Kechene School (or, Initiative Ethiopia International Children’s Association, as it is officially registered) are now sharply dressed in beautiful blue uniforms, receive quality instruction, bathe at least once a week and are actually throwing away trash (rather than tossing it over the fence into an abandoned graveyard). This last bit may seem insignificant to some, but if you were at Kechene early this summer, you would greatly appreciate the improved cleanliness of the grounds.
In UNICEF’s 2008 ‘State of the World’s Children’ report, reasons stated for the underlying structural causes of child mortality were: poorly resourced, unresponsive and culturally inappropriate health and nutrition services; food insecurity; inadequate feeding practices; and a lack of hygiene and access to safe water or adequate sanitation. Kechene School is working to care for, love and educate destitute and orphaned children in Kechene neighborhood, one of the poorest in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Currently, Kechene is providing two meals per day, quality instruction, spiritual and character development, hygiene, and love and support to over 80 children in KG-1, KG-2 and 1st grades. The leadership of the school will be deciding, over the coming year, if it is best to continue to grow progressively, adding a new grade level each year or, to operate solely as a pre-school, while sending students to government primary school and keeping the doors open in the afternoon for study hall and an after school meal for Kechene alumni.
Funding and impact will be two of the main factors in making this decision. The leaders seek to maximize the positive impact on the development of destitute and orphaned children in the neighborhood and their families. The question is how to use scarce resources most effectively; it’s a learning process, but I trust they’ll figure it out. The main point of this post, however, is not to overindulge in the operational details of Kechene, nor to highlight the enormous need for such an organization. The intent is simply to express the profound joy I experienced in visiting Kechene today.
I volunteered at Kechene in the early part of the summer; you may recall two posts I wrote concerning Kechene, ‘Kechene Primary School’ and ‘Update: Kechene.’ Kechene today however, is much improved from where it was earlier this summer. This improvement is attributable to Cherokee Volunteers like Katie Wilkerson and Jonathan Page, donors (I won’t mention all of your names, but I can assure you your donations have impacted the school, the children and the community), the hiring of quality staff and teachers, and mainly to the dedication and vision of Kechene founders Nichodemas Buche, his wife Woudenesh, and his partner Wondwossen (Peter) Abera.
After being away from the school for a few weeks, I was blown away upon entering the school today. The kids were clean (thanks for the shower, Jonathan!) and in their new uniforms, the classrooms were tidy and organized (thanks Katie!), and quality instruction was being served in every classroom along with breakfast and lunch (thanks donors!). Evidently, I was not the only one impressed. Just the other week Children’s Hope Chest (www.hopechest.org), an organization dedicated to sponsoring orphaned children, visited Kechene and immediately begun calling upon donors to sponsor the children.
With any luck, Children’s Hope Chest will succeed in sponsoring all of the children, which will greatly increase the chance of not only their survival, but of them becoming productive citizens who contribute to the development of their native land.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed, and continues to contribute, to this project. It means the world to the kids, literally. I only wish many of you, who have generously supported the project, had the opportunity to visit Kechene and personally witness the impact your donations have on the lives of these children.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
To make a tax deductible donation to the project, contact Kim Shaw (email@example.com) at Cherokee Gives Back and tell her you wish to donate to the Kechene Project you read about on JT Vaughn’s blog. Also, you can email me for more information, firstname.lastname@example.org
Or, contact Children’s Hope Chest through the ‘Contact Us’ link on their website: http://www.hopechest.org.
In Ethiopia, contact Wondwossen (Peter) Abera at email@example.com.
A few pictures from Kechene, provided by Peter Abera, can be found on the ‘JTV’s photos’ link at the right.