Lango Kindergarten

Miracles do happen! We were able to witness one such miracle during our 2010-2013 Ethiopian Peace Corps service.

The Lango Kindergarten was recently organized by the Mekane Yesus (Lutheran) Church near  the town of Wosha, Constructing the new school building a settlement 14 kilometers from Shashemene, and adjacent to Wondo Genet College where the two of us were stationed. The Ethiopian government does not financially support pre-primary school education; however, they do expect children to come to the first grade with some ability to read, write, and perform simple math. Knowing the importance of education, the church wanted to help the local children get a good start in their education, and, thus, created the kindergarten.

The area that the Lango Kindergarten serves is fairly poor and most of the children who attend the school have very few resources. When we made our first visit to the school (which was being held in the church) we found 150 children divided into three rooms  sitting on benches borrowed from the sanctuary. There were no school supplies in any of the classrooms. A small black board was the extent of the teaching aids. The two teachers, covering three classrooms, had not been paid their meager $12.00/month salary for half a year, yet, were continuing to do their best to educate the children.

One of the teachers, who also worked at the college library, approached us about helping their school. This led us to visit the church elders. Community clean up day prior to the opening of the school building Not knowing how we could find money for this kind of project, we made no  promises. We did ask them to make a list of needs, and we started to put out feelers for potential sources of money. The elders presented us with their wish list, which was quite extensive, and covered everything from teachers’ salaries to the construction of a classroom building and the installation of a waterline onto the property. We asked the leaders to prioritize the needs and we started the funding search.

By simply letting friends know about the school, we soon had several offers of support. A friend in Switzerland knew of a colleague who was coming to Ethiopia and would send a suitcase full of school supplies with her.  She also volunteered to support the two teachers by covering their back pay and committing to support them for at least the next year at double their current salary. She then organized a book drive at her church resulting in a book for each of the children along with a large donation to pay for text books.

Another couple from the US brought a duffle full of teaching aids when they came to visit. The US Embassy had 50 boxes of books sitting in a warehouse looking for a home. children enjoying the playground equipmenA team of US Army - Community Service  personnel volunteered to move the books from their stored location to Wondo Genet. While only a few of these books were appropriate for kindergarten level students, the rest were distributed to eight local schools and Wondo Genet College.

Other monies bought desks for the children, backpacks with school supplies, and play equipment. The two teachers were given scholarships to attend weekend college to continue their education. We became aware of a grant that could provide half the money for the 4-room school the church dreamed to build. A visiting biologist from the US Forest Service offered to ask her children's school to dedicate their yearly fund-raiser to the school building construction. The promise of this money allowed us to secure the grant and begin construction.
The Alaska Elementary school's fundraising event brought in over $7,000 and allowed the Lango school to add a 4-stall latrine to the construction project. A group of High School girls from the same community of Petersburg, Alaska, sent a donation to help provide funding for the 2 kilometer waterline. The Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity at Colorado State University sent a donation that also went towards the water system.  Another Colorado couple held a yard sale and sent us $500 towards the construction projects.

Back in Switzerland, our friend's 8th grade daughter organized a bake sale to help Lango School. This event raised nearly $800.00 and provided playground equipment for the new building. Children in their new classroomThe Murullle Foundation assisted with financial accounting for the project.

What was most heart-warming to us was the fact that the church leaders, parents and the entire community pulled together to make the project a reality. While much of the construction was completed by local contractors, the church leaders did all the planning, ordering  and transportation of supplies, work supervision and bill payments. The parents and community members provided labor to clear and level the lot, cleaned up the surrounding grounds, and dug the trench for the two kilometer long water line.
The result is a new school building that now has 210 students, four teachers, a toilet block, additional desks, teaching supplies, student workbooks, teacher's office, playground and water line. Once the adjacent sugar cane field cane is harvested, a soccer field will be provided for the children. A side benefit of this project is that the surrounding community now has access to the water line. The pipeline was extended to the edge of the church property where it is accessible to the neighborhood. Before the water tap was installed families had to carry water for over a kilometer from the closest source.

A special dedication ceremony was conducted in December where all the donors were publicly thanked for their contributions. Opening dedication of the new Lango SchoolThe church leaders acknowledged that the changes that occurred to the Lango school and to the community was nothing short of a miracle. We were happy to be a witness (and some help) to this transformation.
Now that we are back in Fort Collins we will continue to find support the ongoing expenses of the school through the Murulle Foundation. Funding is needed to cover the teacher's salaries and their continuing education. School supplies are an on-going need as is building maintenance.  Several of the students have special needs and can use support, and the church leaders would like to be able to fund a part-time nurse to assist the children's health needs.  We would be very interested in any ideas of funding sources for these projects.

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Updated: June 14, 2013 © 2011 All Rights Reserved
The Murulle Foundation P.O. Box 1442 Fort Collins, CO 80522 USA