Mekele Blind School, Ethiopia

$1,000, C. Hanley/Rich Dann (Tonga 72-76)

** An additional $1,000 was awarded June, 2009

In January CT RPCVs received a service fund grant application from Christina (Chris) Hanley, a Falls Village teacher and Norfolk resident, for security improvements at a school for the blind in the northern Ethiopian city of Mekele. The small boarding school of 86 blind children ages 6-15 was in need of a security wall. Thieves from the surrounding city would boldly enter the unprotected dorms and steal what little the children possess. School supplies and personal affects were stolen and many of the girls were sexually assaulted when they used the crude toilet facility at night.

building courtyard

CT RPCVs Service Fund provided $1,000 toward building a 50 square meter security wall, gate, small gate house and trunks to protect the children’s possessions. As of mid-March, there is great excitement at the school! The security wall conceived by Mitiku Gabrehiwot and Chris six months ago is finished! The children are now able to live without worry about being assaulted or having their sandals stolen. It’s approximately 6.5 ft. high, with an additional height of barbed wire along the top. In addition, 43 metal trunks were made, delivered and are proving to be enormously helpful in securing the meager belongings of the children. These belongings consist of perhaps an extra utfit and a pair of sandals. Nonetheless, the trunks and the wall have sent a strong message to the children that they matter, and are valued by others. Mitiku poetically shares the children’s joy and appreciation by stating “The children are smiling at you”. In addition, Mitiku and a friend painted the 43 “lockers” a bright yellow, and then stenciled “Eth. American Cooperation” on top of every one of them.