“This year, for the first time ever, an ambulance drove into Abada. It’s just another indication that the quality of all aspects of our lives has improved because of your investment.”
When imagine1day first visited the community of Abada in 2009, students rarely continued their education past Grade 4. The nearest Grade 5-8 primary school was more than 15 km away, a daunting four to five hour round trip on foot.
Girls in particular suffered as a result. Parents didn’t feel comfortable sending their teenage girls to face such distances alone. Instead, they were kept at home to help with chores.
In the district of Hintalo Wejirat, Abada was at the top of our list to receive support for building a new Grade 5-8 primary school. However, imagine1day and the community of Abada had one major obstacle to overcome to make this dream a reality: we needed a road.
To access this remote community, there were two options: one could take a steep 55-minute mountain climb, or hike a 2.5 hour, 15 km traverse. Both routes were inaccessible by vehicles, which were absolutely necessary to carry all the materials needed to build a school.
For months, imagine1day and the community leaders of Abada lobbied the local government and the nearby cement factory to fund and supply a bulldozer to clear the way for a new road. Our efforts paid off in October 2010 when a bulldozer finally wound it’s way up to Abada, laying the foundations for community’s first road. In May 2011, Abada’s new Grade 5-8 classrooms welcomed their first students.
For 9-year-old Girmanish, in Grade 2, the new school means a brighter future for her and her sister. “My sister had to drop out of school because my parents did not want her to walk so far to continue going to class. Now that our new school is open, she is planning to come back to school.”
The process of clearing the path for a road takes teamwork
Just one year after the new school was opened, the Abada Primary School won first place in the District’s Academic Competition, won second place in the District’s Sports Competition and was named the District’s Model School. “These are indicators that our students are confident, our teachers are effective and our community is engaged,” said school Principal Gebre-Medhin.
“Each year, the community contributes free labour to our income generation activities and money to help us sustain and grow these small businesses. Because of their active participation, we now have 25,000 ETB (approximately CND $1,425) in the bank. With these savings we are able to keep our school functioning at a high level. Recently, we used some of the money to buy more books for our library, to repair the water point, and to hire a local artist to paint our classroom walls with diagrams that the teachers use as teaching aids,” he says.
Meanwhile, Abada’s new road has provided the community with so much more than a new school.
“Before the road was built, the sick person would have to stay in Abada and we would wait for them to either get better or carry them on our shoulders with a stretcher. Now we can call an ambulance from Debub to come and transport the sick person to the clinic. It is especially important for women who go into labour. More of them are able to deliver at the clinic instead of in their homes,” says Kebedu, a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) member.
Priest Tekele, the PTA Chairman, is also proud of the community’s achievements since they partnered with imagine1day: “First, I am happy that the school has savings in the bank as this allows us to confidently step towards self-sufficiency. Secondly, I am thrilled that student enrollment has increased from 330 to 407 students this year and that the drop out rate is below 1%. Thirdly, I am pleased that the road the community petitioned to have constructed a few years ago continues to serve the people well. Last week, for the first time ever, an ambulance drove into Abada. It’s just another indication that the quality of all aspects of our lives has improved because of your investment.”