Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Ethiopia Reads-Tesfa School and Library in Kembata Tembaro, Ethiopia -The Details

 “To the uneducated, an A is just three sticks.” - A. A. Milne

For the first time ever Ethiopia Reads and Tesfa are collaborating on a project; to build a library and school in the Kembata Tembaro region of southern Ethiopia. 

In my experience, kids from this region really like books and school.

From Jane Kurtz:

"Recently, I talked on the phone with a mom who told me the group that recommended she be in touch with Ethiopia Reads thought we were a big organization.  That cracked me up.  In these tough fundraising times, we've cut back to one--count her...one--part time office manager as our only paid staff in the U.S.  In Ethiopia, we are making the best use of raised money by moving to a collaboration model, to make sure administrative costs are as low as possible.  That's great because it means most money raised will go straight to projects that are thrifty and community-supported and sustainable.  It's bad because it means we operate without much infrastructure.  Ethiopia Reads = mostly a group of very determined volunteers/readers who take time from their own work, hobbies, families, and other dreams because we can't NOT try to get books to kids in Ethiopia."

By partnering with other NGO's, Ethiopia Reads will have more opportunities to fullfill its mission of creating a reading culture in Ethiopia by connecting children with books.

Tesfa has planted a school every year for the last seven years in Ethiopia. The founder of Tesfa has a very sad story. He, remarkably, has found a way to turn his grief and loss into something beautiful. Dana Roskey, like Jane Kurtz, is an everyday hero.

Here is the info about our school from Tesfa's homepage:

Project Summary:
To build, furnish, supply and staff a school and library for 250 primary students in the Kambata-Tambaro region. This school will likely be a kindergarten combined with nonformal primary school that serves a broad spectrum of children with primary level literacy and numeracy. Nonformal schools follow specific curriculum and school-year schedules prescribed by the government to best serve rural, farming communities. Many of the children have farming duties, depending on the season. The curriculum is a concentrated primary curriculum meant to provide basic literacy and numeracy. The nonformal paradigm allows for training up local youth to perform as teachers, thereby building local capacity. Nonformal schools are best structured around a base student population of 200-400 that can be taught in split day shifts.


The Kambata-Tambaro zone is one of the nine administrative zones in Southern Ethiopia, with a total surface of 2,434 km² and a population close to one million. The region is situated about 175 miles (280 km) south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital. More than half of the total area is classified as hilly and mountainous.

Like most of the surrounding regions, such as Hadiya, Gurage, Wolaita, Sidama, Gedeo, Kambata's economy is based on enset, a perennial crop resembling false-banana. Used as staple food crop, enset covers about one-third of the total area of land in Kambata. The Kambatas are one of the most dynamic, hard-working, and highly skilled agriculturalists in Ethiopia. And yet, like many regions of Ethiopia and other developing countries, Kambatas suffer from unemployment, mass poverty, food insecurity, illiteracy, and communicable diseases. There is deep-rooted chronic food shortage and widespread starvation among the population. Check out this very informative link for more information about the region.


The school complex itself will include six classrooms, bathrooms, an office and a library. Depending upon the choice of building materials, the build could take as long as four months and would be best planned for the driest months of October through January, though any time before June is optimal. June through early September is the rainy season.

The final budget will depend on building materials -- the current package price is an estimate. We recommend wood framing and mud walls as being cheap, functional and conforming to local standards. But there are degrees of scale and finish that will affect cost. We expect to have a good discussion with donors about the variables in the build.

The project package includes classroom furniture and the first year of operations, all provided for by the original donation. Planning will have to include options for ongoing operational costs beyond the first year. The usual strategy is to make plans for support through individual child sponsorships, forging links with US schools or churches, or among a group of project supporters. Several Tesfa schools are supported through sponsorships, costing $21 per month. The average school budget requires 12-20 sponsors, country schools requiring the least.

Donor Base:

So far, the base of support for this project is provided by U.S. adoptive parents whose children come from this region. We are very proud to be working with them, and with Ethiopia Reads on this project.

Ripple Effect:

The school will serve approximately 250 children. The average family in Ethiopia is 7, so your impact serving 250 children expands to 1,750 children and family members. Extend that impact ten years into the future, with a new class coming in each year and total reach is to 4,550 children and family members. If you consider extended family, which in Ethiopia can be very close, then hope and success in the lives of 250 children might touch a community as large as 12,250.

A library and a school, obviously I am going to need help. The financial goal is 45k. This is the approximate cost of the library(10k), plus the school(35k). Thank you to all of you who have already donated to the library. Again, the way to do that is to go to HERE and when donating, add "Mudula" in the 'in memory of' field. Tesfa has a button for the school, and I will put it on the sidebar here as well. I'll add a fundraising thermometer as well for Meghan. ;)

There will be a fundraising event in Los Angeles this spring. Jane will come, and Dana too, if he is back from Ethiopia. I have asked a famous actress with an Ethiopia daughter to co-host the event with Jane, (no not THAT actress), although she certainly would be welcome. It may end up just being me, Jane and Meazi and Melese that night, but we will give it our all. If you would like to host an event in your city on the same night (perhaps in Canada?) let me know. If you would like to help in some other way, please let me know too.

Melese is pretty excited about it.
I am too.


  1. I am so excited for your project. I wish we were still going to be close in June :(
    I look forward to seeing great things happen.

  2. You have no (okay, probably "some") idea how much I love this project. I have always wanted to see LA in June...

  3. SO excited about this project, Julie! Way to get the big ball rolling.

  4. Mary Louise Parker came to my mind! What a great thing you are doing!

  5. Geez, I wish you'd linked to me on a day when I was doing something deeper than ranting about our dreadful postal system. Oh wait... that would be almost never. Heh.

    You're on. Posts are being drafted, word is being spread. There will be brainstorming, with brains better than mine if possible. Count me in.

  6. I'm in too! I've been thinking about the best way to get involved since your first post about the library...Emma is also from this Region. I would love to be a part of this amazing work!

    You are inspiring Julie.

    absolutely inspiring.

    Shall I host the Midwest version? Not as cool as LA I know;)

  7. I love fundraising thermometers! Woot! Plus, I want to come to your fundraiser :). Maybe your brilliant and awesome sister and I can fly outta our city to yours together.
    I just want to tell you, too, that my own annual fundraising effort has netted a bit more than you are asking for from your readership, and you are a blogging celebrity! Therefore, IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN! You have a great project. Now, I'm going to go and donate on my family's behalf - I'll put our donation into their stockings so they know we're IN. Love you, JC, and love your passion and compassion.

  8. I would rather come to your fundraiser, but I am hoping to be in the midst of travel to Ethiopia by that point. If ER doesn't get into the marathon, I plan to funnel my fundraising efforts to your library. I would also think about doing a fundraiser on the same night as you.

  9. Yay! I love this project soooo very much. Thank you, thank you for getting this started :)

  10. Okay, I'm thinking if Themia and I can't make it to LA in spring, we'll do our own thing here in the dirty South.

    So excited about this!

  11. I'm so excited about this. I wanted to do something to honor my son's birth mom and siblings and this is perfect. I'd love to help ms. fricknfrack in the dirty south.

  12. So amazing - if anyone can do this, it will be you!

  13. Holy mutha, this is pure cool! Wish we could get to Los Angeles this Spring.

  14. I would love to help....is going to the event and donating what you need? Otherwise, let me know what I can do!

  15. I am cross-posting this to the Holt International Yahoo group as many of their kids come from this area as well.
    Thank you.

  16. I am so moved by what you are doing, Julie. It is absolutely fantastic. And as soon as we get on the other side of December, I'm donating! Just wanted you to know....I know you're not creating a list and adding "naughty" and "nice" to the names (at least I hope not)- but, I *AM* going to be donating.....just wanted to let you know! :) I mean, honestly, how could I not? xoxo

  17. I love that you are doing this and am happy to participate. Wish I could be at that fundraising event to see that famous lady with the Ethiopian daughter (YOU) and son!


  18. Great project targeting amazingly brilliant people called Kembata. I have some friends from there. Keep up!!