Genet and her older sister Tsilat grew up playing together. They were doted on by their siblings and parents, and each attended the nearby primary school. After eighth grade, Tsilat left school. A few years later, Genet took a different path and continued her education.

Two girls, same family, with one critical difference: by the time Genet graduated eighth grade, Glimmer had built a secondary school in her village. She now has access to a complete education just a short walk from home, something no other generation in her village has experienced.

Girl reading in front of a class
Girl writing in a journal
Girl working on a craft

Expanding quality secondary education is a priority for Ethiopia as it works toward the UN sustainable development goals. Only 35 percent of children in Ethiopia attend school past eighth grade. Like Tsilat, girls often drop out without a secondary school nearby, putting them at higher risk of child marriage.

Today, the Adi Bearaj Secondary School is a busy campus of nearly 400 students. Genet is third in her class and plans to improve her standing next year. She wakes up early in the morning to get extra study time in before class and support her dream of becoming a doctor.

Group of smiling women

“Education is very important not only to me but also to all people. You cannot improve your life if you are not educated. You help yourself, you help your country. If you are educated, you can improve yourself.”


Genet is part of the girls’ club Glimmer established at her school. The club distributes sanitation pads and meets to talk about hygiene and sanitation, nutrition and the prevention of HIV. Students bring these lessons home to their families, becoming leaders in their community.

Genet’s parents did not have the same opportunities, but are passionate about the power of education in their children’s lives. “Even if I am uneducated, I know the advantage of sending children to school. Education is the best way for a better life. Those who go to school serve people and help themselves. They support their citizens. I believe in this,” said Gebre-Hiwot, Genet’s father.