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Hello Everyone,

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

tesfa heart

I find it hard to believe that I haven’t blogged about the library in over a year…13 months and 1 day to be exact.  As you may know, I went to Ethiopia this past summer for a month.  I lived with a wonderful woman and my goal was simply to try and experience family life, language and the culture of day to day living in Addis.  I also, had  a chance to do a little teaching with TESFA/Ethiopia Reads at a local elementary school  and to visit the school in Dukem to check on the progress of the library. The kindergarten was there and so was the container and some books in boxes in a locked room…and that was it.  The completion of the library had been frustrated by delays etc. from local officials.  However, our visit with the new school Director seemed to mobilize things.  I was assured that by October, the library would be functioning…but nothing. I contacted Jane and Dana and they felt November might see progress…nothing.  I let things pass into the new year and contacted them again at the end of January.  Here is the result of my recent communication. The following is a summary of conversations that I’ve had with Jane Kurtz and Dana Roskey of Ethiopia Reads/TESFA. Here are some of the things that I learned:

There is a fledgling library in Dukem:

  1. There is a library opened  for higher grades students in a small free-standing building on the Dukem Campus.  At the moment it is being used for older students to study in.  There are a few Ethiopia Reads donated books there.
  2. The Container Library/Reading Room/ Library for Primary students has also been opened.  But, unfortunately, it has been co-opted at this time by some local officials using it as an Election Centre.  Most of the books donated by Ethiopia Reads were for younger grades.
  3. Furniture, supplies and playground toys were purchased for the kindergarten.  Unfortunately, they were not appropriately fenced so they were battered  by some of the older students.  The ongoing repairs will be a point of future leverage/negotiation/advocacy for the ongoing support of educational programs at Dukem.
  4. There has also been some training done for Teacher/Librarians, but attendance has been spotty.
  5. There was a field trip to Dukem. Some teachers and students from Addis Ababa have started Book clubs.  They made a field trip to Dukem to present and mentor them on the process of starting their own book club.
  6. There is a new School Director in Dukem, but it seems that official changes regularly.
  7. In terms of ongoing funding, Dana is going to  rework what some potential costs might be for ongoing support of Dukem.  Some estimates are:

a. Repairs $500-$1,500 (promise of ongoing support may garner better efforts at the school)

b.  Training and Tutorials – $1,500 -$2,000

c. Field Trips  $200

  1. In 2012 Dana’s focus was reorganizing the Ethiopian side of things. This year he will be relocating to the US, and looking at implementing a better Information Flow System, formalizing policies and working with donor communities.
  2. Dana has asked the Staff in Ethiopia (point people: Minna, Itagesu) to organize information about Dukem to share.  Ie. Reports and Photos
  3. So, while there has been some progress, the challenges are evident.  Dana sees this as evidence that we are in the right place.  Work still needs to be done there.  There is still space to advocate for improvements and little by little that can be done.  So…on we go!

Thank you all for your patience and ongoing support.      When I have more information and pictures, I will get them up here for you asap.

And…maybe I’ll have the chance to get to Ethiopia again this year…Cross your fingers for me!




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It’s amazing to me that in the creation of this library, so many people around the world are connecting in very positive ways…although most of them I’ve never met.  Here are just a few examples from the past couple of months:

1. My colleague and dear friend Carolyn from here in Niagara has raised well over $500 for teacher/librarian training at the library in Dukem.

2. Jane Kurtz  from Ethiopia Reads is going to connect with Hala Kazim, a life coach and entrepreneur that I met in Dubai (my friend Christie’s friend!) for some fundraising in Dubai in the coming year.

3. Mary Alison Lyman from the Canadian University of Dubai is bringing 15-20 CUD students from around the world to do some volunteering at the library and for a little Canadian charity called “Little Voice”  in May 2012!

4. And finally, today my Facebook friend Samuel Getachew, a Canadian-Ethiopian currently living in Toronto sent me the following interview. Sam is an author and activist (among other things) , and he has just returned from a trip home to Ethiopia, where he met and interviewed Dana Roskey, the founder of the Tesfa Foundation. Dana is the person who has been managing the day to day operations of establishing the library in Dukem in conjunction with a Tesfa -sponsored kindergarten there.

Here is Sam’s wonderful interview and Dana’s inspirational story.

Interview with Dana Roskey

Submitted by: Samuel Getachew

Bio:  born in California. B.A. at the University of California, and Master’s at the University of Minnesota, in Education. Taught for 15 years in public schools in Minneapolis and community colleges in Minneapolis and area. My fiancee, Leeza Woubshet, died in an auto accident in Minneapolis in 2003. Her dream was to return to her home, Ethiopia, and establish a school for the poor. I didn’t want her dream to die, so I established the Tesfa Foundation, a US nonprofit, to fund schools for the poor. My first visit was in Jan 2004. Founder and board member for the Tesfa Foundation in the US. Currently, country director of Ethiopia Reads.



“You have been coming to Ethiopia for eight years and been involved in many worthwhile initiatives. Share with us your Ethiopian journey so far.”

I became involved with Ethiopia because of my loss. But with the grief came a blessing: the opportunity to participate in the lives of thousands of children, youth, and families here — even if only indirectly, — helping to bring education and opportunity to people who deserve it. The Ethiopian people are very gracious, the country is beautiful, and I feel blessed to have spent as much time in this country as I have. I hope that Leeza’s dream has been realized. Whether it has or hasn’t, I will continue to work for the children and youth of this country, for as long as I am able.

“Tell us about Team Tesfa.”

Team Tesfa is a club based in Addis Ababa, founded about five years ago. Its purpose is not only competition, but to provide humble support systems for young athletes who have a dream to make their lives better — especially young women who have come to Addis from the countryside, hoping that running will lead them toward success and better lives, but then find themselves struggling to survive in the big city. I’m a runner, and that’s why I took an interest in the lives of runners here. I want to see them have a chance to pursue their dreams. We at Team Tesfa have a long way to go, but so far we have been able to support a number of teen girls with housing and education. We support young women with athletic gear, educational support, and vocational skills. And we have started to help some young men with vocational skills, as well. I see a bright future for this program. I’m concerned that Ethiopia’s young athletes receive the respect and the resources they deserve for full and satisfying lives. A few athletes become rich and famous, of course. But the majority work very hard for years and don’t make it.  They sacrifice everything for the dream, and afterward they have nothing to build the rest of their lives on. This is what I would like to see change.


“The Tesfa Foundation is involved in many initiatives. Share with us some of these initiatives.”

There are many children in Ethiopia who have no access to education. We are just one of many organizations trying to help the government in its effort to reach those children. It’s a matter of resources. The Tesfa Foundation has focused on the youngest children, and more recently, on rural children. We have funded the establishment of eight schools in Ethiopia. Five of those have been kindergartens, and the rest rural, non-formal schools for primary ages. We have invested in good teacher training, and in some cases have been able to help moms with micro loans and help children with shoes, clothing, and nutrition. Now, of course, the Ethiopian government is implementing kindergarten-level education in its government schools. This is an exciting time as we see a new push for quality in early grades literacy. We at the Tesfa Foundation would like to offer a hand to help schools implement high-quality kindergarten education. We see that many schools do not have the resources to train staff in the unique needs of kindergarten-age children, buy age-appropriate materials, or furnish classrooms appropriately. We are currently piloting this kind of assistance in several local schools.

“How about Ethiopia Reads?”

Ethiopia Reads has been working in Ethiopia for over a decade, establishing school and community libraries across the country. To date, we have established almost sixty libraries around Ethiopia. The mission of ER is to encourage a culture of reading, and that goes well beyond the supply of books. We offer librarian training twice per year, and monthly professional forums for librarians. We invite librarians’ colleagues, their school directors, teachers, and local officials to attend because we believe that a successful library and a strong reading culture depend on whole communities. We organize book events and book clubs in schools. We invite Ethiopian children into our programs. We sponsor rural mobile library systems to deliver books and opportunities for literacy to children deep in the countryside where there is no access to schools. Again, it’s an exciting time to be in this line of work, just as people are re-discovering the importance of reading to happiness and success.

“In the last decade, there have been many changes in Ethiopia. What are some of the positive changes you have observed over the years?”

Well, the perspective of a faranj (foreigner) will differ from that that of locals. The faranj sees the rapid growth of Addis Ababa, the construction, and the proliferation of supermarkets and consumer goods. Addis Ababa is a much more comfortable city for faranjis than it used to be. Obviously the national economy is booming, even as many poor people’s lives are becoming more difficult because of inflation. It’s a time of contrasts. Even as there are more roads and more schools, there is famine and profound suffering for many. It’s our job to reach out to the poor and to the youth, and to make sure they aren’t left behind.

“For someone who wants to emulate such an enterprising career what advice would you have?”

Know what’s right, keep your focus, and be determined. I’ve seen many kids come to Team Tesfa who are all talk. They are sure they can run like Haile. But in athletics, you either prove it by your performance or you don’t. It’s all about persistence and intelligence. The beautiful thing about athletics is how it teaches us about life. Anything you want in life, you earn in just the same way.

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Hi Folks!

This is your last chance to get your your tickets for the April Fool’s Day Basket Raffle! The draw is this Friday at noon!  It’s a fun one!  Tickets are 3 for $5!   Have a great week!  Shari

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