There are no upper secondary schools in the remote villages scattered amongst the mountains that surround Adigrat. Children from these villages either walk for hours along steep paths to get to school, or, if their families can afford it, stay in cheap rented accommodation in town.
These houses often have no water, no electricity, no kitchen and the toilet might just be a hole in the ground. And yet many secondary school students fend for themselves in these conditions every year in order to get an education.
In 2008, therefore, we opened up a Boys’ Hostel, initially taking in 12 final year male students per year—housing them, feeding them and looking after them as they complete their secondary education. Almost all of our past hostel students have gone on to university and in 2013 we opened a new house for them to increase the number we could take in; and in 2015 we opened a Girls’ Hostel.
This year, we had 25 students between our Girls’ and Boys’ Hostels. We select these students with the help of the local schools and government, based on the criteria that they come from very poor rural households, are in their final year of school and have shown great academic potential.
By joining our hostel project, they benefit from:
- A comfortable, hygienic and safe environment in which to live and study;
- Dedicated support staff to cook for them to ensure that they can concentrate on their schoolwork;
- Support with any school costs (fees, uniforms, associated scholastic materials) and medical expenses should they fall ill;
- Extracurricular classes in English and IT;
- The possibility of continued support while at university.
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On top of that, Bruh Tesfa staff regularly visit students’ families to ensure that they remain involved in their child’s education and to build up links with these remote communities. In return, we expect some contribution in foodstuffs from their families in order to offset some of the costs of the Hostel programme and to encourage a small family participation.
We firmly believe that by eliminating the difficulties these children face when going to secondary school, they will stand a better chance of securing a place at university; and by supporting them there, they are more likely to succeed, obtain employment and be able to stand on their own two feet, changing the lives of their families and communities in the process.
The Hostel Programme is amongst our most successful projects; please help us to keep it going!