Saturday, September 09, 2006

An Ethiopian girl shines shoes to pay for school

Closing the gender gap: An Ethiopian girl shines shoes to pay for school
By Andrew Heavens
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, 8 June 2006 – Meskerem Geremew knew she had to get an education. So the 12-year-old girl from Ethiopia’s bustling capital, Addis Ababa, decided to take action.
First she got hold of some rags and a cracked water container and set herself up as one of the city’s only shoeshine girls, holding her own against hundreds of competing shoeshine boys. Then she started saving, splitting her earnings between her mother and a special school-savings pot. On weekends and evenings after classes, Meskerem shines shoes for up to 1 birr (11 cents) a pair. On a good day, she can earn as much as 10 birr ($1.15). Half of that goes to buy food and other provisions for her family. The rest of her earnings are put toward school fees and related costs – 15 birr a month, or 154 birr for the whole year. After months of elbow grease, she collected enough to start paying her own way through primary school, while continuing to provide food for her mother and four younger siblings.
Today, Meskerem, spends the bulk of her weekdays sitting at a desk at Tebeb Mengel Primary School in the heart of the city, getting the lessons she paid for with her own money and using the exercise books and pens she bought through her own hard work.
“I had to go to school because I want to get knowledge,” said Meskerem. “Knowledge is how you become somebody


Anonymous said...

This is a very inspiring story. It's amazing what a little girl with ambition can accomplish. She is truly making something out of nothing...if only the Diaspora had this much ambition to help our children.

magical realist said...

Well it's not entirely the Diaspora that has to do the helping. This story is inspiring only because the young girl decided to do for herself and not wait for a handout like some are prone to do. This pick yourself up by your boots straps (or others boots as this case may be) attitude is the best way that anyone can really get ahead. The reality is, you have to do you. And that's why I find her story inspiring. As for the abesha folks in the Diaspora, if enough of them got their ish together, they should also start by helping themselves and improving their standing in their communities before aspiring to be of any help to those back home. That's my nickel - you owe me three cents.