Ethiopia, Africa

ETH03 - Begaimeder Academy: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: April 18, 2017

Update from BHW Ethiopia Partnership Facilitator Following Visit in March


It was great to catch up with Worku again. He is in good spirits. A number of things are finally coming together and there is light at the end of the tunnel in a number of areas. 


Recent Events

Income Generation - Begaimder Academy (ETH03)

great progressThe school is even more impressive than when I was here in September 2016. It is much tidier and much more organised. Major construction continues and as well many tidy up jobs are underway. 

The main building is getting to the place where you can see the end of it. The front half of the structure is completed and by September two more floors, four in all, will be fully operational. The back half has just one more floor to pour. This will be the hall for the school. There is still a lot of work to do, mainly plastering, painting, windows, doors etc. but Worku is onto it. It has moved past looking like a construction site. The levelling of the grounds is ongoing. A thatched shelter for the staff room looks great. Grass will be planted in the next rainy season which will soften the rocky look of the site. Trees are growing and the place is tidy. The staff are very excited about their school.

happy kidsThe provision of the extra funds for the bank costs has been a real benefit to the development. As well he has been able to sell quite a lot of crushed gravel so that keeps a bit of cash flow for the ongoing building. Water is a major issue. He continues to build reservoirs but they only get water every 4–5 days and that usually doesn’t fill the tanks. This has slowed the building as large areas of concrete require a lot of water. Finally, there is the hope that they may get electricity in the near future. This has cost US$28,000 to connect. Five years ago it would have cost about US$7,000 but at the time Worku refused to pay the bribe that was expected and he has waited out the five years. This will make life out there so much easier and it will save them money as well as they won’t have to run generators.

happy kidsWorku intends to start Grades 5 through 8 in September 2017. Originally his intention was to just add one grade per year after Grade 4 because by bringing in older students from other schools they would not be used to the level of teaching, especially as this is an English medium school from kindergarten. However, he has to balance the financial implications of all of this as well. He needs more pupils so he will bring in these older classes next academic year. Every incoming older student will have to sit an entrance assessment to determine which grade they will be accepted into. This will somewhat mitigate the issues of not being up to standard. They will have to work harder until the bulk of their students are coming in from the bottom end of the school. 

Also, when students get into Grade 5 and up they have to have specialist teachers. If he only had Grade 5 he would have to have the same number of teachers for one grade as for four grades so he has had to bite the bullet on this. 

happy kidsThe Education Department is totally impressed by the school, not just the facilities but the curriculum and the quality of teaching. The young guy he had running the primary school proved to be very inadequate and has “left”. The new one is still young but has a much better understanding of private school operation as he worked at Kings Academy for six years. The previous one only had government school experience which meant he had no idea of accountability, quality, truthfulness or integrity. 

The Education Department is using them as a model school. They have been doing a lot of promotion in the city and people are very excited about the place. Next month there is a national education consultation in Gondar with 5,000 people attending and many of them will be coming to visit. They have been asked to be present and have a booth.

love schoolThe plan is to just go to full primary initially and then students will go off to other secondary schools for about 4–5 years before a secondary school will be added. Secondary costs a lot more to set up and operate as they have to have specialist classrooms and teaching staff. 

Currently there are 380 students and they continue to drift into the kindergarten as they reach the right age. There are 200 in the kindergarten and 180 in the four primary grades so the numbers are getting up there towards the target. Worku expects at least 800 next year, maybe over 1,000, so he’s gearing up for that and seems to have it under control. 

Senior Citizen Care (ETH02b, l and m)

helpful ministryThis continues to be a helpful ministry. My biggest concern is that there is little spiritual component to what they are doing. Worku has lost Mrs Mulu who was the main leader of this. She was diagnosed with diabetes and is not well. However, he has a good team. 

The board of five people is functioning well. The day we arrived the chairman went to Addis Ababa to a meeting called by the Department of Social Services. They called all the charities working with the aged together to network, learn from each other and submit their audited accounts. 

The charity is functioning well now and is responsible for the three care centres and the blind students (ETH02k). The government is encouraging them all to become locally self-sustaining and of course this will be achieved once the school is fully functioning. 

helpful ministryWorku has already started donating small amounts from the school. The school business has stated objectives that it will contribute to charity so it has started in a small way to indicate intentions. Worku’s plan now is to start a registered membership of the charity which will be made up of donors. He will raise funds from local people and of course the school. He is sure that this will more than cover the three existing programmes and allow it to expand. The local government has indicated that they will provide land for more programmes. They are already well known and trusted by the local government and this will make it easy to build membership. 

They are being used as a model example of how it can be done. Recently they received an award for their work. They are the largest ministry to the elderly in the north of Ethiopia, with only one other in Addis Ababa being larger. Most charities have 30% administration - the main person getting a high percentage of the 30%. They cannot believe that Worku, as the principal, is a volunteer. The administration fee for this charity was 11% last year and 13% this year which is a challenge to all other organisations and the cause of a few issues as well. Administration includes wages for those helping, transport of food stuffs, utilities (water and firewood), equipment for food preparation etc. 

Very few NGOs are interested in the elderly. Those that come to Ethiopia are usually interested in children and HIV+ people. 

In other developments, Worku wants to help the elderly more and there are a couple of ideas around this. When he gets more local people involved in the charity, he wants to look at issues like clothing, health, accommodation, mental health and spiritual input. The local Council is going to network with other charities around the clothing issue. In terms of mental health, many of these elderly people have serious trauma, in fact their lives are lives of trauma. He is looking at developing a relationship with the University to get students from their social degree programmes to come as volunteers and work with the members. Most of the young people doing these degrees are Christians, so in this way he hopes to be able to provide spiritual care for them as well. He has to be careful in terms of the spiritual input as he doesn’t want the local Council to become suspicious of his intentions so it would not be possible to work with a church on this.  

Support of Key Leaders (ETH02c)

The work among the Gumuz people continues to grow. Some of the congregations have reached almost 500 people. Worku is a bit concerned because the ongoing new church planting has virtually stopped as the church planters become pastors of churches instead of church planters. He is putting pressure on them to move out and also told them that the churches have to become self-sustaining in the support of their pastors. The financial support of existing church planters who settle down and decide to pastor a church will therefore be cut back. The sending churches, especially the Full Gospel ones, require planted churches to send all their funds to the sending church which doesn’t help at the local level but this is going to change and funds will be put into new works. 

While here we looked at some of the figures of the growth. I wish this movement had a better model of church and a clearer understanding of church planting movements rather than establishing large, predominantly static congregations. The church planters being supported all send in regular reports so the numbers can be observed. The training is continuing on (ETH02a) and in fact they could not come to visit us because they were in a module. However, because Worku has been so busy getting the school going his visionary input has been missed. 

Pastor Damtew, the leader of the sending church, is a very caring person but not a strategic thinker and he is not encouraging ongoing expansion. Of course, he is afraid of the financial implications if the external support is reduced. Worku will have to deal with this soon as I have told him that from next year we will be cutting the amount available and will only consider funding new work.  



I would anticipate that by 2019, in two more years, no further financial assistance will be required in Ethiopia.