“I want to be a doctor and help my community.”

Genet is a teenager living with her family in rural Medebay Zana. She attended primary school in her village, but like in most of rural Ethiopia, the closest secondary school was more than a three hour walk from home. Such long distances are dangerous for girls to walk alone, and most parents are unable to afford to send their daughters to live near secondary schools. These conditions leave girls no option but to drop out.

“I have seen my friends go through a hard time sending their children to town,” Genet’s mother Yalem said. “They used to struggle to send money for rent and provide food. As my husband and I are getting older, we wouldn’t have been able to walk all the way to town to see Genet.

Genet with her mother Yalem

Genet with her mother Yalem.

So, despite Genet’s outstanding work ethic in school, she had no viable option to continue her education past eighth grade and would be forced to drop out of school, putting her at risk of marriage and becoming a mother before 18. Then, an opportunity arose when Glimmer built a new school in her community.

“I was in grade eight when I saw a new school being built close to where I live,” Genet said.

The new school would bring secondary education with quality facilities for hundreds of students. Genet enrolled the opening year of Adi Baeraj Secondary School and was able to continue her education.

“The school has been such a blessing to our family,” Yalem said.

Genet’s new school did not just provide a place to continue her education, it gave her opportunities for her and her peers to develop and thrive.

“I liked my school because it had different activities. We had girls’ club, soccer club, science and technology club, water, sanitation and hygiene club and media club. We had access to water and clean toilets, too,” Genet said.

Adi Baeraj Secondary School built by A Glimmer of Hope.

Adi Baeraj Secondary School built by A Glimmer of Hope.

While attending Adi Baeraj, Genet became a leader of her school’s girls’ club. The girls’ club provides a safe place for students to learn and share with one another. Genet trained her peers on the dangers of child marriage, the importance of staying in school, nutrition, menstruation, and hygiene management. Through the girls’ club, Genet gained the confidence to speak to her peers about the importance of eliminating the shame of periods.

Upon completion of grade 10, Genet scored a 3.00 on her national exams and was regarded as an exceptional student. Now, Genet is in grade 12 and plans to attend university after graduation to continue chasing her dream of becoming a doctor.

Genet jumping

Glimmer invests in a holistic approach in Medebay Zana that strengthens families’ agricultural livelihoods through farming loans and training, while also implementing projects that ensure that children are able to attend school and families can access health services. This holistic approach lifts up families and breaks the intergenerational cycle of poverty.