Back to School

September 1, 2015

This September, we hope to sponsor at least 4 new students in Selam Awassa’s program for General Metal Fabrication and Assembly and Building Electrical Installation. Students in the program learn to design and manufacture products that are improving the lives of rural Ethiopians. When finished, they’re ready to find a good paying job in the ever-growing industrial marketplace of Southeast Ethiopia. Each student’s classes, room, and board are covered by a $125/month donation. The program runs three years and we’re looking for a few people to commit to supporting a student in their first year.

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Learn more about our relationship with Selam Awassa and their impact below:
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One of the first relationships Discovering Light established in Ethiopia was with Selam Awassa Technical and Vocational College. Initially, their water drilling arm was involved in the planning and implementation of the Kalo well project. We spent time with their founder, Swiss Engineer David Roschli, who has since passed away but was a true visionary with a giant heart for Ethiopia’s poor. We also got to know Selam’s administrative staff, several who have continued to lead despite the departure of multiple executive staff over the past 2 years. These are the persevering educators whose personal passions match purpose of the school.

In 2010, we sponsored our first 4 students in the three-year general metal fabrication. We watched as the four young men matured, and grew in confidence while becoming skilled workers. Following their graduation in 2013, each obtained a job applying what they learned. We shared previously about Moyeta’s success working for the Toyota dealership and repair center in Awassa and Mustafa’s fortune working for Tibabu Solomon’s metal fabrication shop. Our women graduates have had more mixed results but great successes nonetheless. We sponsored 5 students in the Hotel and Kitchen Operation program in 2012 and 4 in 2013. Besha, one of the shiest sponsorees, completely came out of her shell during her stay at Selam and was one of the first to take our offer of a small-business loan following graduation. She started a cafe under a tree outside a medical clinic near her home village, and continues to run this small business day in and day out, even employing her younger sister.

20130404005657_8263-2458054736-OWe believe in Selam’s mission. We especially value their focus on developing appropriate technologies that “will enable prosperous rural livelihoods and a thriving natural environment.” They see the rural families as worthy customers ready to progress through new tools and methods. On top of this valuable pursuit, Selam is able to “deeply invest in technical and vocational training among disadvantaged youth.” Their investment looks like the following: “In all that we do we seek to instill a culture of trust, discipline, work ethic, dedication to trade, and respect. This creates a thriving work environment, which in-turn more fully develops our students, employees, and the community at large.”

And so they do. Their impact on rural poverty in Southeastern Ethiopia is less sweeping than some other initiatives such as savings groups. Nevertheless, they are developing people in rich and lasting ways, while creating important products that change lives, like the post-harvest threshers we’ve provided to young farming entrepreneurs through our micro-loan program. In a fast-changing environment that seems to leave rural, poor Ethiopians behind, Selam has placed their focus directly on helping what the West would call ‘the least of these.’ Serving farming families through education and appropriate technologies, Selam is an empowering force. We’re pleased to partner with them and help students participate in their programs.

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