Conversation with founder of Education for Ethiopia

While juggling a full class schedule at Mason High School and participating in extracurricular activities, Kaleab Jegol found time to launch a nonprofit to support educational initiatives in Ethiopia.

“Now typical American high schoolers don’t usually think about how valuable their education is. We think more about if a guy or girl likes us, if we’ll get that car we had been begging our parents for forever, or who we’re going to prom with next year,” said the rising high school senior. “What we don’t realize is what a luxury it is to think about these things, and not if we can go to school the next day.

“I say this because almost 70 million kids around the world don’t go to school. The UN (United Nations) has called for change, pleading world leaders to do more and push for this cause. Education is what progresses the world.

“Education has the power to lift people out of poverty.”

The first-generation immigrant, who was born in Ethiopia, is passionate about social justice and fighting “for children and families who don’t have a voice, in America and around the world.” He started a charity organization to help address the education crisis in his home country.

“Education for Ethiopia is entirely youth-led and fosters the development of the world’s next leaders, catalysts and philanthropists,” he said. “Every single person has a personal story that comes back to education. None of us would be as privileged as we were if our parents, grandparents or ancestors didn’t come to this plentiful and giving land.”

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Board members hail from Mason, Lakota East and Wyoming high schools.

After high school, Jegol hopes to attend New York University, major in Global Liberal Studies with a concentration in politics, rights and development, and ultimately work as a human rights or immigration lawyer.

The Today’s Pulse found out more about Education for Ethiopia.

Q: How did Education for Ethiopia begin?

A: In Ethiopia nearly one-half of school children don’t learn basic skills by the end of primary school. Children who are not in school often end up on the street as beggars. I soon learned that rural schools in Ethiopia were even worse off.

Having been born in Ethiopia and immigrated here, this hit me hard. I thought of all the Ethiopian children that didn’t, won’t and will most likely never have the same opportunities that I am constantly given here in America. I felt obligated to do something.

These numbers and facts I kept reading disturbed me and made me realize that I, and quite frankly all of us here, take too much for granted. That’s when I decided it was time for me to do something about this – Education for Ethiopia was born.

Q: What is its mission and vision?

A: Education for Ethiopia’s mission is to help empower and support schools in rural Ethiopia with funding and school supplies. Our vision — though far fetched — is to be able to have all kids in Ethiopia say they received an education.

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Q: How is Education for Ethiopia making a difference?

A: Right now we have been doing what we do through our partners, Roots Ethiopia and PeaceCorps Ethiopia. We’ve worked on a STEM Science Lab initiative that worked towards raising $3,500 to build a science lab in Gedelao, Ethiopia.

We just recently finished our school supply drive initiative together with Mason High School’s HOPE Club and Wyoming High School. We collected enough supplies to impact around 5,000 lives. This was so successful.

Our recently completed project was the Tigray Girls English Camp Fund.

The girls we were helping through PeaceCorps were denied an education, so we helped fund an English camp for them that they can attend over the summer.

Helping girls reach their fullest potential and letting them learn moves societies and cultures forward.

Our current project is with Roots Ethiopia. We are helping support a school near the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, with more than $1,000. The school is completely women led, so we thought it only made sense to help them.

Q: Do you accept donations?

A: Your donation allows us to change children’s lives and hopeful, someday, become Education for the World.

Q: How can someone get involved?

A: Just head on over to our website, www.education4ethiopia.org, and click the “About” tab, then click the “Membership” tab. We will get your response and contact you.

Contact this contributing writer at lisa.knodel@gmail.com.

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