I have had the opportunity to watch Addis Jemari grow over the last three years as a staff member, but additionally as an AJ family member. I am happy to have been a part of that growth and this family. Here at Addis Jemari, we believe education to be highly valuable to those we serve. Changing generational poverty takes many components, but without a doubt, education is one area of high importance with great dividends for the children we serve, but also for their family and the communities they live in.
I first began tutoring the girls at AJ Home and over the years, we have worked hard to greatly improve their confidence in their abilities. This is what has allowed them the base to build on and receive the good results that they have. They have positive attitudes and beliefs that they can always improve. They are willing to put in the hard work, which is often rare with high school students and is essential in the learning process. The future is exciting for each of them and all at AJ are thankful to see our first AJ girl sit for her 12th-grade national exam in just a few weeks. She will have an opportunity at University, and with that, she has a more sustainable future ahead of herself. I have high expectations for all the girls and will do all I can to help them achieve their educational goals.
When AJ opened their Family Empowerment Center (FEP), I was asked to take a larger role in the organization by becoming the Education Coordinator for both programs. I was happy to be asked and took that role seriously as I now would be responsible for the education plans and tutoring program of more than 100 more students with the addition of the FEP Center.
It is so important for the students at FEP to have a place that they can get tutoring after school. They spend their time in a good place in order to gain additional knowledge. They work for academic change and that is a privilege to be a part of. Recently, I am seeing attachment with themselves and their learning, but truly at the beginning of the program, it was not as such. They have never been given such an experience. It was hard and difficult, to say the least, as they began to own their own educational journey and take ownership of their classwork and homework.
Many of our FEP parents are illiterate themselves and have little formal education. This makes it harder for our students to succeed and thus need extra services and tutoring to see their success through. Every child deserves this, and I am encouraged and will work hard to see that every child we serve has the tools and opportunity. Currently, we are working additionally with our 8th-grade students that must sit and pass their national exams in a few weeks. This is a big step for each student and for families that a child is sitting for 8th-grade exam for the first time.
If that was not enough to be excited about, we are currently also offering tutoring to the mothers in our FEP program. We have fifty whom we serve currently as part of our program. We have mothers who now can identify letters and sounds in Amharic, allowing them to form and make sentences. This is the start of the reading, which will give our mothers so many opportunities for their futures. Can you imagine what that means? It means that a mother who can read and write can actively play a role in her own life, she can help herself to be more sustainable, and she can help her child do the same. She can read to her child instead of just her child reading to her. We have much to do…join us as we fight hard to prepare our families and the children we serve for a brighter future.