“I want to be a teacher,” says 12-year-old Mulatuwa

05 October 2022 by

On World Teacher’s Day, we hear the story of Mulatuwa, an outstanding student, who has been supported by the CHANGE project, her community and parents to return to school in Ethiopia. Inspired by her teachers, she wants to succeed in her education and become a teacher in her village to support other girls like her.

Education opens doors for people all over the world. It is no different in rural Ethiopia. Here it is customary for children - especially girls - to help with the running of the household, which makes the burdens on the girls all the greater. Girls in Ethiopia very often leave school to help care for their younger siblings, fetch water or prepare food. The CHANGE project, led by People in Need, supports girls who want to make a better future for themselves and return to school.

Mulatuwa Zelalem is a twelve-year-old girl living in Ethiopia with her family. Her father, Zelalem, was the sole breadwinner of the family. He worked as a day-labourer to add to the income from their small farmland.

A couple of years ago, Zelalem became sick and developed hearing loss. He could not make money as he used to, and the family faced the prospect of a loss of finance. Consequently, there was no money to cover school expenses and Mulatuwa had to end her education at Grade 2.

She remembers the difficult time with sorrow: “I will never forget what I felt when I saw my friends going to school after I ended my education. I was very sad and often cried.”

Her father, Zelalem, reminisces about the time he got sick: “We didn’t have enough food and money to cover the expenses and send my children to school. Mulatuwa is my fourth child. I know she was one of the top students in her class, but I had no choice.”

Mariam Hordofa is the Kara Soditi Kebele chairperson and a local Community Action Group member. Mariam advised Mulatuwa’s parents that, through the CHANGE project, she could get assistance for her studies if she continued her education.

Mariam explains that he and his colleagues use churches, community meetings, and other platforms to teach community members about the importance of sending girls to school. “Last year, we intensively lobbied families and worked with churches and the community to bring nearly 600 girls and girls with disabilities to school,” he said.

“Women and girls are half of the community. The government, other stakeholders and programmes such as the CHANGE project are striving to bring marginalised girls and girls with disabilities to school. I am part of the effort, and I am proud of that,” he adds.

Abebe Bogale is a teacher in a primary school in Mulatuwa’s village. “Mulatuwa is one of the outstanding girls in the school. The CHANGE project assisted girls like Mulatuwa to establish a girls’ school club to discuss and learn their rights. Besides those activities, the project supported their education and provided hygiene protection materials,” he adds. Abebe also stressed the need to construct additional classrooms and toilets to attract more girls to school.

Mulatuwa confides her dreams: “One day I want to be a teacher in my village and help girls who haven’t got an opportunity to attend school.”