(Note: Since many of the children in the Hope 4others program have common first names, the sponsored children featured in this article will also be mentioned with their sponsor’s last name.)
If you ask any child in our Hope 4others program about the plans they have for their future, nearly every student would share a goal that requires a university education. This is a big deal!
Children who grow up in extreme poverty rarely have the luxury for dreams. When your whole focus is simply daily survival, it seems like a waste of time to imagine a future different than what you already know… especially when no one else in your family has ever gone to college.
But the children at Spring of Hope and New Hope have totally new mindsets! Being able to attend school and also receive godly counseling at the CarePoints has transformed their expectations and hopes. Now they can envision themselves building better futures.
Meti (Peinado) from Spring of Hope shared: “The staff has helped me create a personal plan to succeed toward my goal of attending a university. I am very grateful for their support.”
Child Social Worker Moke explained that the staff and tutors have created an individual learning plan for every child by identifying the student’s weakest subjects (based on the previous year’s results) and assigning focused tutoring in those areas. The tutors visit the schools every month to follow up on each student’s progress in the classroom, and they present this progress report to the students and their guardians.
Lensa (Aitken) starts her final year of ITC (technical college) this fall.
“When I finish my ITC,” she shared in English, “I plan to open internet shop with computer service and live from that income.”
As the first student from Spring of Hope to attend any type of college or university, Lensa is a great role model for the other students at the CarePoint!
Nearly all students at Spring of Hope and New Hope have their sights set on going to a university. The CarePoint staff urge the students to pursue this goal because they know every additional year of schooling produces more opportunities for these kids!
However, it’s unlikely that every student will to attend a university. Statistically, only about 40% of Ethiopia’s students move on to a university level of education (and this percentage declines even further in rural towns like Ambo). While we hope this rate improves for the students in our program, we also want to prepare alternative paths to self-reliance for those who don’t take the university path.
On our last visit to Ambo, we talked with the older students at Spring of Hope about their interests and future plans, brainstorming trades and occupations they could pursue if college is not an option. As they shared their ideas, it was clear that most of them held college as their primary goal, which is exactly what we’ll continue to encourage! Such a goal will push them to work diligently in school. And with every student in both CarePoints advancing to the next grade level this school year, they will need to keep drawing from that motivation!
Below are some examples of the types of trades and businesses our kids could one day pursue in their hometown of Ambo or beyond:
TECHNICAL FIELD: The students above [left to right: Kuma (Stamp), Bedadi (Wong), and Abriham (McNeil)] envision themselves pursuing occupations in the technical field. “I love technology,” shared Abriham, “so maybe I’ll have a computer shop and make an income there.” Kuma and Bedadi explained they could receive appropriate vocational training at the Ambo Technical College if they are not accepted into a university.
FASHION FIELD: Driving through Ambo, you’re sure to spot several hair salons with faded pictures of popular styles displayed in the windows. Several young ladies at Spring of Hope are interested in opening their own hairdressing shop, especially if they could collaborate with other girls in the program! Birtukan (Hoover), Ayane (PromiseLand), Derartu (Prince), and Chaltu (Hickinbotham), all spoke of a training center in Ambo that offers 6-12 months of vocational training in this trade.
Two other girls, Zenu (Craig) and Dinknesh (Kionka), said they were more interested in the textile industry. Zenu thinks she could collaborate with other girls to open a fashion store and create her own clothing designs. Dinknesh could contribute to such a shop by designing and producing national clothes.
THE ARTS: We have many creative minds in our program! In addition to the impressive artwork we saw from Nugusu, Atinaf (Brown), and Bedada (Bailo), we also heard the stand-out musical talents of Kena (Thomas) and Argitu (DeAnda). It was no surprise to us when Kena shared his idea of opening a music studio where people can record their music and make music videos, since, as he explained, “there are very limited studios in Ambo.”
Tariku (Howarth) has a passion for music and for creating things with his hands, so he said he could see himself making musical instruments if he cannot attend a university. Aster (Verbanac) and Kidist (Moran Brown) also love to create things that are both beautiful and practical. Aster enjoys weaving and could imagine herself even expanding into carpentry. Kidist enjoys hand crafts and says the Ambo Technical College also provides vocational training in machine crafting… something she would be interested in if she doesn’t advance to a university.
TRANSPORTATION: Watching their parents and guardians start their own small businesses and be successful has inspired many of our kids to do the same! For instance, Chala (Sachs) already helps his father with his horse cart business, so he would like to continue in the same vein of transportation and become a bajaj (taxi) driver. Tariku (Hunt) and Wondimagn (VanDalen) would also like to get commercial driving licenses to become bajaj drivers.
SHOPKEEPERS: The busy streets of Ambo are crowded with little shops that sell goods and services of all kinds. Ebsa (Hickinbotham) envisions himself successfully managing a small general store in his neighborhood, selling everything from food staples to batteries to candy. Aberash (Mortensen) would set up a shop that focused on bedding materials. In fact, the Ambo Technical College provides training in sewing machinery, which is what she would pursue if a university education is unattainable. Hirut (Nelson) said her shop would specifically focus on selling imported goods from outside of Ambo.
LIVESTOCK: When asked what trade or business he would enjoy if he did not attend a university, Kenenisa (Ross) replied, “I would become a pilot!” Realizing such a profession would undoubtedly require a university education, he quickly followed up with: “I can do like my mother.”
Kenenisa’s mother has one of the most successful small businesses in the program: animal husbandry. She started out with just a few goats and selling the milk. As she successfully bred the goats, she began selling the animals, too. Over time, she saved enough money to renovate her house and buy a larger piece of land for her business. Having such a hard working and successful mother is a blessed example for Kenenisa, especially if he starts his own animal husbandry business!
PART 2: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS
Supplied with these enlightening responses from our kids, 4others representatives Ron and Courtney Hunt met with Misganaw Eticha and his SVO leadership team to create a plan that sets up every student for success! Stay tuned for Part 2 of this story in which we’ll outline our program’s three paths toward self-reliance: university, vocational training, and entrepreneurship!