Yetesfa Mesk International Academy

One of the many challenges facing single mothers in Ethiopia is the lack of jobs which will allow them to bring their kids to work and a lack of resources to send their child to preschool. Some resort to begging, others to prostitution, as a way of putting food on the table. After seeing this desperate need, Fields of Hope opened a school called Yetesfa Mesk Academy in the fall of 2016.

This project was launched as a way to cover the educational and other needs of impoverished single mothers in the heart of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Through this school we provided high quality education within a loving atmosphere, nutritious food served 4 times a day, as well as an economic empowerment program for the parents. We have had the privilege of serving 30 families through this project and we saw an amazing amount of positive change in many of the families over the years.

After much consideration, the Board of Directors at Fields of Hope made the difficult call to Yetesfa Mesk Academy at the end of the 2019/20 school year.

We will remain connected to these families in various ways in the years to come, including through our ongoing Economic Empowerment Program (read more below).

Economic Empowerment Program

The Economic Empowerment Program (EEP) program has been one of the key components at Fields of Hope. Established in 2018 through a grant, the goal of the program is to help impoverished single parents establish a sustainable family business.

The EEP was organized by forming an association of all the preschool mothers, 20 at the time. The women took an intensive training on how to identify gaps in the local economy, develop a business plan, effectively invest and ultimately how to pay back a small loan. Several of them were chosen as leaders to oversee the association, approve individual business plans and pay out the loans. We have been very encouraged to see most of the women in the EEP successfully pursuing their business plans, investing and paying back the loans they received.

A single mom, who is HIV positive and previously had no productive work, used her loan to begin a successful business by buying items from wholesalers and re-selling them at the local market. Another mother used her loan to build a simple restaurant next to an apartment complex. These and others have begun providing for their families in healthy ways largely because of the loving leadership, loans and mutual support provided through the EEP.

Going forward in September 2020, we plan to provide coaching for the 20 parents who have already been involved in the EEP, as well as invite and train the 8 families who are new to the school this year and who would like to be included in the program. For a variety of reasons, Yetesfa Mesk International Academy will be closing in July 2020, but the EEP will continue and become the primary focus of fulfilling the FOH vision. One staff member will provide coaching and oversight of the program.

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