Ethiopian children learning in a school

Dallmayr builds a school in Ethiopia

Dallmayr is teaming up with the “Menschen für Menschen” foundation to build a school in Ethiopia. With each purchase of Dallmayr Ethiopia coffee, you are helping to fund our building project.

Ethiopian children laughing and waving in front of a colourful wall

A new school for Kekero Jibat:
a village looks to the future

Dear readers, Bhuebos bona! Hello and welcome to Kekero Jibat. Today, the grandmothers are cooking, people have got out their most colourful clothes, and everyone is excited about the evening’s festivities. After all, building is about to begin on the Kekero Jibat Primary High School, and that calls for a celebration!

Construction of the new school is being financed by Dallmayr. From now on, we’ll be reporting from the school with Gamachu (12), Helina (6) and Urge (7). Together with more than 700 other children, the three pupils currently attend the old school in the village, around 200 km south-west of Addis Ababa.

The building was originally constructed using straw, wood and clay. It has small openings for windows, and large parts of the walls are crumbling after being infested by termites.

The new school, which will be built in partnership with the “Menschen für Menschen” foundation, aims to give families a better future. This matter is very close to Dallmayr’s heart. After all, coffee has been grown in Ethiopia for decades, and Dallmayr has been in contact with families there for several generations.

A worker digs foundations

Hard work by hand: digging the foundations, step by step

The building site is currently the main topic of conversation in Kekero. Everyone in the village likes to pop by to see how things are going. However, it will be a while before they notice the first signs of progress. After all, only a limited range of construction equipment is available due to difficult transport conditions. In Kekero Jibat, people are working with their bare hands and only a few tools. The workers, who all live in the region, have begun by digging a large hole in the ground and taking the earth away using long stretchers known as “barillas”.

Ethiopian workers digging the foundations for the construction of a new school
A look inside an Ethiopian school with old school desks in a small classroom

Six-year-old Helina was one of many people at the site to watch workers breaking ground for the new building. “We’re very excited,” she says. “Due to the long rainy season, we had to wait a long time until we could finally get started.” Now, she is very much looking forward to the new classrooms. Helina takes us to her old classroom: “It really is time we got a new school,” she explains.

Helina’s parents work in the neighbouring village, on the coffee plantation where her grandparents and great-grandparents also earned their living. For more than 50 years, Dallmayr has been the largest buyer of washed arabica coffee in Ethiopia. The family is proud that Dallmayr is now funding the construction of a new school. “It makes us feel that our work on the plantation is valued,” says Helina’s father.

Picture credit: Menschen für Menschen

View of excavated foundations for the construction site in Ethiopia
Ethiopian workers at the school construction site

More light, more books: the new school will deliver much-needed progress

Urge takes us into her current classroom. “We’ve got English class right now,” the seven-year-old whispers. More than 60 pupils are cramped together in the room, with one textbook for every five children. With only small openings for windows, there isn’t much light in the classroom. The air is so stuffy that many children suffer from chronic respiratory diseases.

Young Ethiopian girl
View of a classroom at an Ethiopian school with a teacher speaking to lots of pupils

Urge’s teacher Korani Fininsa (28) is standing at the blackboard. It is amazingly quiet – the children are listening intently to her every word. After class, Korani Fininsa sighs. “I’d love to offer the pupils better conditions,” she says. “We don’t have any space, any electricity and not nearly enough staff.”

When the young teacher heard about a new school being built of solid concrete with large windows – and in Kekero Jibat of all places – she could hardly contain her joy. She visits the construction site every single day: “When building is finished in two years, we will have the most modern and advanced school in the region.”

Picture credit: Menschen für Menschen

Ethiopian construction workers at the building site of the new school
Young Ethiopian girl smiling

Large rooms at last – the pupils are looking forward to their new classrooms

Almost a dozen workers show us the progress made on the building site. Everyone is delighted that things are going well. The future classrooms are marked out with stakes, planks and ropes. The first pillars are already in place, and the school is taking shape.

Ethiopian women helping to build the school
An Ethiopian worker compacts the soil at the school construction site

Urge and her neighbour Berhane are amazed when they see the outlines of the many rooms: “The school will be much bigger than our old one!” The construction site is right next to the old school, making the difference in size clearly visible. A construction worker waves at them cheerfully. It’s Berhane’s father: “Well? Have you found where you want to sit, Berhane?” he laughs.

Urge interrupts excitedly: “Look! I bet the bookshelves will go back there, in the corner on the left.” In the current school, there are only a few books available. Space is cramped. Things at the new school will be different.

Picture credit: Menschen für Menschen

A teacher stands in front of a large class of Ethiopian school pupils
Three Ethiopian women working on the construction site

Progress is being made: many women are pitching in too

The new school is really beginning to take shape. Gamachu’s mother Nardos (25), who found a job at the building site, is surprised: “None of us expected progress to be made so quickly.” Today, Nardos is moving heavy, long beams around the building site together with other women. These will support the roof. The concrete pillars are in place, and the brickwork is visible.

Young Ethiopian girls laughing and smiling
Several Ethiopian women help at the construction site of the new school

With their backs straight and their heads held high, the women carry the beams one after the other to the building site. They level the ground using spades. It’s hot, but Nardos is barely sweating and the strain doesn’t show on her face. By working at the building site, the young mother not only earns some money, but also feels like she is playing an active part in her children’s future. It is perfectly natural that women work here too.

The school’s headteacher inspects the building site each day, too – surrounded by his pupils. “They all know what we are working towards here.” The new school is to serve as the basis for better conditions. “A good environment is essential in order to give the children an education,” he says.

Picture credit: Menschen für Menschen

Three Ethiopian women working on the construction site
Three Ethiopian children at the school construction site

From the brown foundations to a large construction site

Urge passes the construction site each morning on the way to school with her siblings. At the beginning there was digging, the building was set out, and the materials delivered. It seemed that so much still needed to be done. But as time went by, the brown foundations were transformed into a large construction site – and for Urge it became increasingly clear that she would soon be sitting in a new classroom.

View across the construction site of the new school in Ethiopia
The brickwork and roof beams of the new school in Ethiopia

The school’s 750 pupils can look forward to several new buildings and spacious classrooms. The foundations are all finished, and the roof beams are in place. “Look,” says Urge. “Last week there was a delivery of trapezoidal sheet metal. That’s for the roofs.”

When we ask Urge how she is so well informed, she laughs. “Everyone here knows all there is to know about the construction site,” she explains. After all, many of the pupils’ parents are involved in the building activities, and not a day goes by without someone talking about the school’s construction. But now Urge has to rush off – her English lesson is about to begin. “Without a doubt my favourite subject,” she grins and quickly shouts: “Bye-bye.”

Picture credit: Menschen für Menschen

Three Ethiopian children at the construction site of the new school
Three Ethiopian workers lay trapezoidal sheet metal on the roof of the new school

The aroma of education – progress in Kekero

Teacher Korani Fininsa is there to welcome us at the old school. “Look,” she says, sliding a pile of books towards us. They’re English books – brand new. She picks one up and smells it. “That’s the aroma of education,” she says and smiles. She received dozens of books yesterday – and that’s just the beginning. Once the new school in Kekero is complete, each pupil will have all the schoolbooks they need. Up to now, each book had to be shared by a group of children. But that will soon be a thing of the past.

Teacher Korani Fininsa, smiling
An Ethiopian worker sawing metal rods

Korani walks with us to the door and points to the nearby building site. The windows should have already arrived, but there are problems with the delivery. “Some things happen quickly, while others take more time,” Korani says.

The construction site is buzzing with activity. Some workers are mixing plaster, while others are clearing away waste and rubble. Gamachu’s mother Nardos, who works on the building site, beckons us over. “Now the rain can come,” she says, pointing to the roofs. The last trapezoidal roof panel has just been fitted. One and a half years ago, this was just a building pit – but now the goal is well within reach.

Picture credit: Menschen für Menschen

Several Ethiopian children looking at a textbook
Shell of the school in Ethiopia

Cement mixers, circular saws and hollow concrete blocks: looking to the future with modern tools

The sun is shining over the construction site, with the occasional fluffy cloud providing some pleasant shade. Class has just finished, and just like every day, Gamachu and his friends head straight to the construction site. The pupils are given a warm welcome, and Gamachu’s uncle shows the boys the progress they have made during the day.

Several Ethiopian children in front of a school
An Ethiopian worker sawing metal rods

He’s currently mixing some concrete – by now a familiar sight for the people of Kekero Jibat. But this construction site is still something special. Here, buildings are usually constructed with clay, and inside they are often stuffy and dark. The new school, however, will be a lot different. Built with the most modern equipment available – from circular saws to cement mixers – this school represents a significant milestone.

The walls have been made using hollow concrete blocks rather than sand and clay. This helps to improve air circulation inside the building – creating a much better indoor climate than in previous classrooms.

Gamachu’s uncle wipes the sweat from his forehead. “We all know what we’re working for here,” he says. “With the new school, Gamachu is one step closer to achieving his dream of studying to become a doctor.”

Picture credit: Menschen für Menschen

Four Ethiopian boys in a school
The completed school building in Kekero Jibat.

The grand opening: the new school is complete

“Look! It’s finished! It’s finished!” shout the children from Kekero Jibat. “You really have to see this,” says pupil Gamachu, running ahead and into his new classroom. Teacher Korani Fininsa is distributing new schoolbooks on the benches and wipes a streak from the window. The village had to wait a long time for the windows, but then everything progressed very quickly. The last rubble has been collected and the 717 pupils can now go to their new school.

Several Ethiopian children laughing in front of the new school
The completed new school in Ethiopia

The teacher looks out of the window, waving to the other children. She lets out a quiet, barely noticeable sigh: “Our pupils can finally sit in a well-lit room. And the air is so much fresher than in the old building, which had clay floors and small holes for windows,” she says, smiling.

Gamachu and his friends visited the construction site almost every day since the beginning. Now he shows us the new dry toilets, the administrative building and the different classrooms. Each child has their own seat. It’s bright, and the blackboard is modern and large. There are notepads and pens.

There are plenty of schoolbooks, too. Gamachu reaches for a biology book and shows us different kinds of leaves and trees. “The book is brand new,” he says, and places it back on the shelf. “The thing I like most about the new school is the reading room.”

“After the summer holidays, when the rainy season is behind us, we are planning the biggest inauguration ceremony the village has ever seen,” says a clearly pleased Tariku Molla, a geography teacher at the school. “We’re incredibly proud and happy that the school is now finished. It wasn’t an easy journey, and everyone in the village played their part. Now, our hard work and joint efforts have paid off – and we could open the Dallmayr school in cooperation with the Menschen für Menschen foundation.”

Picture credit: Menschen für Menschen