The Central Highlands Foundation
In September of 2008 we completed the building of a primary school, grades 1 through 8, in the village of Bale, Southern Nations region, approximately 300 miles southwest of the capital, Addis Ababa.  Bale is a farming community of roughly 10,000 people that had no access to a primary school. Previously, in order to provide even a semblance of education for their children, some local parents organized for classes to be held in the open air, or in dilapidated buildings and hired a teacher with less than a high school education.  The new school is currently serving a population of over 1,500 students.

Aside from the lack of schools in the country, an equally serious challenge is the near total absence of textbooks and other resource materials in schools throughout the country.  Each day in every classroom in the country the teacher will post the daily lessons on the blackboard and the students must copy this into their notebooks.  This then becomes the sole reference source for the entire school career.  Most schools do not even have a dictionary let alone maps, encyclopedias or textbooks.  One kindergarten we visited had one children’s book for a class of 50 students, which they simply read over and over.

One simple story highlights the commitment to education that most Ethiopians maintain.  Last year a school was being built in a small village, which previously had none.  The local people were asked to help in the clearing of the site and in construction of the foundation.  A woman who was 6 months pregnant and who had a 2 year old strapped to her back was observed picking up rocks and moving them from the site.  When told that she did not need to participate said,  "but how can I send my children to school if I don't help in building it?"

We are pleased to report that as of April 2013, Central Highlands Foundation was able to send nearly 10,000 textbooks and other children's books to schools throughout the Dawro region. These books were donated by schools and libraries throughout the United States.  We are currently working with Books For Africa and hope to send another container of textbooks later this year

Starting in 2013, the Central Highlands Foundation has begun to shift its focus toward providing clean and safe drinking water to rural Ethiopia.  Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Eighty-five percent of the nation's 80 million people live on less than $300 a year. Sixty-five percent of all citizens in the country do not have access to clean water. This results in an infant mortality rate 8 times that of the United States and an estimated 50,000 children die each year from water borne diseases.

Ethiopia has more than abundant water resources, however, its quality, access, and distribution are woefully inadequate.  As in many African countries, the job of collecting water primarily falls to women and girls.  Very often they must travel up to three or four miles to the nearest stream or water source to get their daily supply. This results in a lack of otherwise productive effort, or in the case of children, an inability to attend school. The amount of water that can be collected is limited to how much can be carried on one's back which often times necessitates two or more trips per day.

This situation would be bad enough if the quality of the water was acceptable. However, this is far from the case. The video below shows a typical water source as nine year old Zinach demonstrates how she must transfer the water into a 5 gallon container for the return trip home. Zinach has been collecting and carrying water this way every day for three years. The quality of the water is such that a typical person in our country would not even consider putting it on their lawn let alone into their mouth.

Please join with the Central Highlands Foundation in improving the health and quality of Zinach's life as well as her fellow community members. For approximately $12,000 a spring like one in the video below can be protected and restored to its original pristine condition and clean and healthy water made available to all the residents of the village.
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