Matt Fury and Lacy Lancaster ﬂew to Ethiopia to check up on our project to reduce school dropouts in Kellensoo. Lacy brought with her a backpack full of ESL-ready laptops for the school library.
Upon arriving in Kellensoo, F & L went to visit the library that we built in December. The door was locked, there were cobwebs all over it. It was obvious that the library was not being used.
This was frustrating. We spent lots of money and time on building this library and supplying it with books. Installing the laptops was the next step, and the fact that all of this energy had been mistreated was infuriating.
Luckily, the other leaders of the project, Dawit & Aklilu of Nardos Export, were also genuinely upset and shocked by the disuse of the library. They agreed that the school superintendent needed to be replaced, that we should not leave the laptops, that until further notice the library part of the project would be discontinued.
Together with Dawit and Aklilu, we decided to channel more resources into the other half of the project: providing reusable menstrual pads to girls coming of age. It was unanimous that many girls were in school just because of the pads we provided them. Our next step is to send them more, and, if they want to, work so that graduating classes can develop a business model to sell these pads to other villages. Not only is this a fantastic opportunity for the girls of Kellensoo, it has the potential to expand farther into Ethiopia.
One high school girl, when asked what she wanted from us, said "Lots of people promise to help us, but they never come back." Think Coffee comes back. We really look, we really listen, we see what works and what doesn't, and we adapt. Because this is a relationship, not just a transaction, we were able to move from a maddening situation to an incredibly powerful one.