The last year has been challenging in Ethiopia. The pandemic made it difficult or impossible for the girls to attend school for most of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Now, at most sites, the girls are back in school and meeting regularly with their mentors. However, we continue to be very concerned about the political unrest in western Ethiopia, where four of our sites are located.
The mentor at the Nekemte site has written, "Since the past 3 to 4 years, the whole country is on continuous social upheaval … facing economic crisis which the poor and destitute cannot withstand. The year beginning from March 2020 up to now the pandemic problem is added on the top of the already worse economic life of many disadvantaged groups … Commodities for basic needs are in shortage … Peace and security are challenged everywhere. We ask REAL home board and all concerned to pray for us and for our country."
The Bodji mentor described how the girls were a model for others in their community prior to the pandemic: "They helped weak and disabled persons, prayed for the sick, gave money and their own clothes for those in need, and helped by what they can do." But, she went on, "Currently, due to the appearance of COVID 19, activity in the community is difficult." She instructed the girls on how to prevent the virus, and their schools gave them educational handouts to use while schools were closed. She ended with, "As it is known, the security of western Wellaga (province) is difficult this year, but by the power of prayer of God, we passed."
REAL girls in Bodji
The reports from other sites are similar. The mentors are working hard to support the girls. They are well aware that there is much suffering in their community, and that, because of the support of REAL, the girls are in a position to help others. When the girls were out of school for so long, the mentors supported them in developing their creativity by writing poetry, drawing, teaching their younger sisters and brothers, making masks from a variety of materials, repairing old clothes for younger children, and assisting their parents.
We are grateful for their perseverance, their belief in each other, and that all the girls scheduled to take national exams, passed!
REAL girls in Burayu Kata with their mentor and local committee members