“Thank you”, says Mulatuwa – A girl from Ethiopia who refuses to stay behind

Published: Sep 26, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
CHANGE project beneficiary student. a case story for Mulatuwa
© Foto: Setotaw Girma

Education opens doors for people all over the world. It is no different in rural Ethiopia. Here it is customary for children—especially girls—to help with the running of the household, which makes the burdens on the girls all the greater. Girls in Ethiopia very often leave school to help care for their younger siblings, fetch water, or prepare food. Our CHANGE project supports girls who want to make a better future for themselves and return to school.  

Mulatuwa is a twelve-year-old girl living in Gedio Zone Soditi Kebele with her family. Her father, Zelalem, was the sole breadwinner of the family. He used to work as a day-labourer, in addition to the meagre amount he earned from their small farmland.

Zelalem started getting sick and developing hearing loss a couple of years ago. He couldn’t make money as he used to, and the family faced the prospect of a loss of finance. Consequently, there was no money to cover school expenses; thus, Mulatuwa was forced to end her education at grade two. She remembers the difficult time with sorrow.

“I will never forget what I felt when I saw my friends going to school after I ended my education. I was very sad and often cried.”

Her father, Zelalem, reminisces about the time he got sick: “We didn’t have enough food and money to cover the expenses and send my children to school. Mulatuwa is my fourth child. I know she was one of the top students in her class, but I had no choice.”

“Last year, we intensively lobbied families and worked with churches and the community to bring nearly 600 girls and girls with disabilities to school.”

Mariam Hordofa is the Kara Soditi Kebele chairperson and a local Community Action Group (CAG) member. He advised Mulatuwa’s parents that she could get material assistance for her studies if she continued her education. Mariam further explained that he and his colleagues use churches, community meetings, and other platforms to teach community members about the importance of sending girls to school.

“Women and girls are half of the community. The government, other stakeholders, and programs such as the CHANGE project are striving to bring marginalised girls and girls with disabilities to school. I am part of the effort, and I am proud of that,” he added.

Achieve dreams through education

Abebe Bogale is a teacher in a primary school in Mulatuwa’s village. “Mulatuwa is one of the outstanding girls in the school. The CHANGE project assisted girls like Mulatuwa to establish a girls’ school club to discuss and learn their rights. Besides those activities, the project supported their education and provided hygiene protection materials,” he added. Abebe also stressed the need to construct additional classrooms and toilets to attract more girls to school.

Mulatuwa confided her dreams with us: “One day I want to be a teacher in my village and help girls who haven’t got an opportunity to attend school. Apart from my family, those of you who have relentlessly worked and supported girls like me, I want to say thank you very much.”

People in Need (PIN), with the financial assistance of the Commonwealth and Development Office, United Kingdom (FCDO) working to change the lives of 9500 marginalised girls in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR).

Autor: Setotaw Tadesse Girma

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