The students who attend Fresh and Green Academy live in poverty that is unimaginable for most of our visitors. Even those who have been to impoverished areas and who have familiarity with life in the Third World are sobered by the reality of the challenging situation they find when they visit a student’s home.
Bogale Kumela is a first-grader at Fresh and Green, along with his brother, Wakigra. He lives with his eight siblings and two parents in a six-by-six foot “apartment.” In this tiny space, eleven people live, eat, sleep, and cook. There is no electricity or plumbing. The floor is rocky dirt, and the tin roof does not keep the rain out.
Approaching Bogale’s home, the driver has to stop on the main road. It’s too bumpy to continue. On the left side of the road are what looks like rows and rows of henhouses, corrugated tin shacks about 12 feet wide by sixty feet long. Each building is divided into ten “apartments,” each housing a large family like Bogale’s. The path between each set of buildings is about four feet wide and serves as both sewer and entry way.
In order to reach the buildings one must cross over a rushing culvert on a rickety bridge with no railings. The bridge is not made out of boards, it is rounded tree branches wedged in together with maybe one or two screws to hold it together. In the rainy season, the slick bark of the branches makes the crossing seem perilous, and yet it is the only way for the residents to access their home.
Bogale’s mother, Arakash, does not participate in the Mother’s Cooperative. She spends her days combing Addis Ababa’s meager trash piles in order to find food and items to sell. And Bogale has an older brother, Fakahdu, who has cerebral palsy. Whenever possible, Arakash takes him along, but sometimes she must lock him in their apartment because he cannot navigate the rocky roads she must travel to scavenge. Bogale’s other siblings beg for food. Sadly, Bogale’s father does not contribute much to the family’s income. He drinks with whatever money he brings in by begging.
Bogale and Wakigra walk an hour-and-a-half each way to attend school at Fresh and Green, where they are fed three nutritious meals a day and an outstanding education that will help them stop the vicious cycle of poverty into which they were born.
Fresh and Green Academy is truly an oasis, a life-enriching and beautiful place for our students to come every day. Your donations make this possible. Thank you for visiting the site, and if you are so inclined, make a donation so that together, we may continue to make a difference in a world so very, very different from our own.