LET CHILDREN STUDY - Scholarship Program for Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC)
One of the main goals in the 2030 Global Agenda is education. "It should empower people with the knowledge, skills and values to live in dignity, build their lives and contribute to their societies".
The OVC "LET CHILDREN STUDY" Scholarship Program of the Pablo Horstmann Foundation is part of the Integral Health, Educational and Social Project for orphan and vulnerable children in the city of Meki in Ethiopia.
Given the high percentage of minors not attending school in this area, the program enables orphans and/or children at risk of poverty and social exclusion to have access to education. These include children that usually live with a single parent, relatives or neighbors, in precarious family situations with an extreme low income. Some even live on their own, grouped together in rented accommodations nearby the orphanage compound.
293 CHILDREN ARE CURRENTLY BENEFITTING FROM THIS PROGRAM
The beneficiaries are mostly minors below the age of 16, single or double orphans (loss of both parents), who are taken care of by adults, mostly close relatives or neighbors. Although this program mainly focuses on education, besides school fees for enrollment, uniform and school materials, the scholarship also covers four annual distributions of basic food, clothing and hygiene products, given the extreme poverty in that region.
A follow-up by our social workers is an essential part of the program. Regular home visits, medical check-ups and academic follow-ups are scheduled by the programs’ management as to make an appropriate evaluation of the actual situation of the family and child. This allows the social workers to take any important decisions according to individual needs.
In coordination with the Women's and Children's Affairs Office (W.C.A.O.) of Meki, we also try to detect any kind of difficulties in the family's environment that may affect the foster child such as bullying, child labor, illness, abandonment or others. Moreover, we try to solve other kind of possible needs such as the lack of a table or a light for studying at home.
SCHOOL ENROLLMENT: AN ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENT TO BECOME BENEFICIARY OF THE "LET CHILDREN STUDY PROGRAM"
Enrollment, regular school attendance, and the submission of grades twice a week to our social workers is mandatory to be part of this program. However there can be exceptions due to age or disability. Non-compliance of the mandatory requirements will immediately put an end to the beneficiary status of the child.
Most of the beneficiaries attend public schools whose costs are covered by the Pablo Horstmann Foundation. However, in 2019, 14 children received scholarships from private schools.
In the summer, when school comes to an end, a big ceremony is organized with the participation of all orphans that are part of this program. It takes place at the orphanage compound. During this ceremony, students with excellent grades are honored for their great achievements. The ceremony is mainly a recognition of merits and efforts but over time it has become also an important traditional event to strengthen the relationship between the families of the Meki community and the Pablo Horstmann Foundation. Recently 21 students were awarded for having obtained grades above 80/100.
Food deliveries take place four times a year and are scheduled to match with Ethiopian celebrations and holidays (Christmas, Easter, school holidays and the Ethiopian New Year on September 11th). These include teff (Ethiopian cereal with high nutritional value), oil, lentils, maize, shiro (chickpea paste) and wheat.
During these 4 annual visits, our social workers take the opportunity to give motivational talks to families in order to make them aware about the importance of their children’s future, going to school, nourishment and health. Usually a beneficiary who has already been part of the program for a few years, is invited to tell his/her success story. This is a good way to reinforce awareness.
SPECIAL SUPPORT FOR THE MOST VULNERABLE AND OTHER PROGRAMS RELATED TO THE PROJECT
Through a SPECIAL SUPPORT "sub-program", children, who have lost both parents, receive additional support such as rent and further food allowances. The Pablo Horstmann Foundation has also opened a COFFEE HOUSE in the orphan compound that employs several mothers of beneficiary children, to make them economically independent. Another program called SILK GROUP teaches families how to save money and promotes access to credits to start a business.
UPCOMING PROGRAM GOALS
Aware of the current needs of the Meki community and the great success of our educational program, in 2020 the Pablo Horstmann Foundation set the high target of reaching 300 beneficiary children in a situation of special vulnerability through this program. The goal has been successfully achieved.
The foundation also intends, as it is already doing in some cases, to continue providing support to high achieving students, who wish to continue with a vocational training or higher education.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The cost of a scholarship for a child that is part of this program is €15 per month. It covers school fees, books and school materials, uniform, food, and healthcare.
For a child in a vulnerable situation, this support means taking him/her off the streets, giving him/her a dignified future and allowing him/her to improve the community and the country.