The Phoenix of Hawzen
Ethiopia: The non-profit association FINKS SOCIETY FOR INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT HAWZIEN was founded in 2002. To date, three kindergarten teachers and three helpers have looked after over 120 children. The school has been built up to the fourth grade (one class is in a makeshift room). Six teachers look after over 200 children from the first to the fifth grade. From 2019, with the expansion of four more classrooms, pupils up to the eighth grade are to be taught.
Dr. Atsbaha Gebre-Selassie left his birthplace Hawzien in the 70s and fled from communist rule to Germany. There he studied organic farming before returning to Ethiopia, where he now works for Missio.
In order to give the children and also the adults of his homeland a first perspective for the future, Dr. Atsbaha planned to found a self-help project. In 2002 the Ethiopian association Finks Hawzien, Society for Integrated Development, was founded with over 30 local members from Hawzien, Wukro and Mekele. The association, which is state-recognised as an NGO, runs its business independently and is advised on educational issues by experienced kindergarten and school teachers.
The association, which can be translated into English as „Phoenix Hawzien“, received 30,000 m² of land from the mayor of Hawzien for the construction of a kindergarten. When the construction plans were approved in 2005, nothing stood in the way of the project. The kindergarten "Hiwotay Merebet" ("A Sheltered Home") was inaugurated in September 2006 and is now attended by 120 children.
In 2008, the founding of the school was planned and fundraising started. Five years later, construction began on the first four classrooms, a multipurpose hall, a teachers' room and sanitary facilities - designed for up to eight classes. The opening of the "Bruh Tesfa" school, which translated means "Bright Future", took place in September 2014 with a big party. At the independent "Bright Future" school in Hawzien, creative thinking is to be encouraged and practical skills are taught. It is essential for the association that in the lower grades, in addition to the classical subject matter, a special focus is placed on play, art and practical work. The school has set itself the goal of promoting independent action and providing new impulses for the existing school system. From 2019/2020 it is to be gradually extended by a further four class levels up to the eighth class.
In September 2018, a fifth class started school. This means that around 200 children now attend the free "Bright Future" school. Today, they are supervised by a total of six teachers. Since October 2017, the Ustinov Foundation has been financing a full position in handicraft education. In this course, a fully paid art teacher and a helper could be employed. In addition, several local artists teach their craft once a week. There is a potter who teaches the children to work with clay. A musician teaches making music on traditional Ethiopian instruments, dance and singing. The handling of wood is taught to the children by a local carpenter and a basket maker shows the production of the beautiful traditional baskets.
After these successes, funds are now being collected for the expansion of the other classrooms. Since we still lack a larger sum for this and we need the buildings for the fifth class already since autumn 2018, the lessons will initially take place in a makeshift room.
Currently the association is almost exclusively supported by donations. In the future, the sales proceeds of the bakery and the sale of other products - in addition to the school fees - will enable a small subsidy for the kindergarten and the school.
Last but not least, we are looking for sponsors who will make it possible for children to go to school. The sponsors help us to cover the running costs of school life, i.e. to pay the teachers' salaries and other costs incurred. With the growth of the school, these costs of course increase more and more and we are looking for people who want to support us continuously with smaller amounts. A school place costs 15 € per month. This 15 € per month enables a child to read, write, think creatively and learn to work independently in a suitable environment.