The Protestant working group “Ethiopia” in Zornheim has been supporting a school in Ambo for 17 years. Now the pandemic is pushing the aid project to the limit. After 17 years, the school “Hundee Guddinaa” (German: Education is the root of development) in the small town of Ambo in Ethiopia is threatened with the end. The future of around 300 schoolchildren is therefore uncertain and with it everything that the “Ethiopia” working group of the Zornheim Evangelical Church has fought for since 2003. The team supported the construction of the buildings, the teachers’ salaries, and the school fees of poorer children with donations of more than 120,000 euros. Now 20,000 euros are missing so that the girls and boys can continue learning. “If we don’t raise the money, the school premises will have to be sold,” explain Volker Störing and Susan Durst from the working group.
The problem: Because of the pandemic, schools in the African country have been closed since March. Now in October, with the start of the new school year, they will reopen under hygienic conditions. The government now requires all private schools to continue paying teachers’ salaries during the months of closure. The parents should pay 60 percent of the school fees.
The working group had always supported ten to 15 percent of the children. But now even fewer fathers and mothers have money for education because they lost their jobs because of the lockdown. Only 20 percent of the required amount was collected. At the same time, the prices for food and services in Ethiopia have risen sharply in the past twelve months.
In order to bring the school year to an end and to fulfill the obligations towards the state, the supporters from Zornheim have now used up all reserves. In the past few years they had built up reserves because they didn’t want to transfer all donations to Ethiopia at once, but only certain amounts on request for a specific purpose. The parish also contributed money from its budget. Susan Durst and Volker Störing thank Pastor Violetta Gronau for the good support of the parish.
11,000 euros went to Ethiopia in the 2019/2020 school year. Now the account is empty. “And here we are now and we don’t know what to do next. We got into the situation through no fault of our own. The question is: How can we put the school back on a stable footing in the long term, ”says Zornheimer. In the last school year, 1736 euros had to be raised per month. This means that more than 20,000 euros will be needed to keep it open until the next summer vacation. Volker Störing has calculated that the cost per student is ten euros per month. With a donation of 60 euros, you could enable a boy or girl to attend school for six months. After half a year they would like to report how the situation in Ethiopia has developed.
The school was founded on the initiative of the Ethiopian Moroda Mosa, with whom the working group stayed in close contact. He was killed in Ambo ethnic riots last year. The eighth-grade school and kindergarten could, however, be continued. The aim is to enable children from poorer classes to have a qualified education, for example through smaller classes than in state schools. Susan Durst is convinced that “Education is the key to success in life”. And she sees this opportunity for the children in Ambo in danger.