On the fringes of Asela, a large town about 90 minutes South of Bishoftu, sits Hamle 19 Elementary School. Hamle 19 provides a beautiful setting and is linked to two schools back in the UK, Lutterworth’s John Wycliff Primary School and Coppice Primary School, not far from Birmingham.
However, over the last two summers Hamle 19 has benefited from the great enthusiasm and efforts of Headington school, an independent school for girls, set on the outskirts of Mathew Arnold’s dreaming spires.
Last year, pupils and teachers from Headington raised enough money for a new toilet block before visiting to help build the new facility in the summer of 2012. Better toilet facilities are an important step in increasing sanitation and even attendance of many of Ethiopia’s schools.
They were back this summer, with greater ambition and sufficient fundraising for a brand new classroom and renovated playground. Pupils and teachers camped in the school grounds to help with the building work. Having taken 5 months to complete, and together with the playground costing nearly 180,000 birr, it’s an impressive structure, in quite a contrast to some of it’s neighbouring buildings.
We visited to see the completed building on an uncharacteristically rainy November day. Though there was no break in the clouds, the staff’s infectious enthusiasm at help from afar more than made up for it. The school and local community also raised money to contribute to the project, some of which has been used to purchase the classroom furniture.
Hamle 19’s effervescent and delightful headmaster, his office crammed with photo’s from Headington and their Link schools, could hardly be happier than he is for much of the time, but he found particular praise for the new classroom. He’s to use it as a reward for the best classes to have their lessons there. The playground is yet to be finished, but it will give the children another valuable resource when done.
They are vitally important steps for schools such as Hamle 19 to improve facilities that will help them give a better experience to their pupils. Who knows, with ever improving education maybe one day some of Hamle’s students will make it to the ancient university, just a few miles from where this much appreciated goodwill has come.