At Chapel Friday, Student Council President, Skakel M. and I, kicked off year three of Saint David’s School Ethiopia project. Launched in celebration of the School’s Sixtieth Anniversary in 2010, our aim was to raise the $100,000 necessary to build a school for a small village in Tigray, in the northern region of Ethiopia.
This will be the third successive graduating class that has assumed the leadership responsibility for Ethiopia.
Saint David's teamed up with Mimi’s Building Blocks and Save the Children to help us achieve our goal of bringing a school to a community that needed one, much like our founders did for Saint David's--"pass it forward."
Ethiopia’s children have been profoundly affected by decades of conflict, food insecurity and poverty, and as such suffer from some of the world’s worst education and health indicators. Children under the age of 18 account for roughly half of the total population of approximately 80 million, resulting in high demands on basic services that the government struggles to meet. Although children’s access to basic education has increased significantly over the past decade, schools are failing to prepare learners with the building blocks they need to succeed in school and in life. Saint David’s, the Kalina Dass, and the Kukuftu Community
The Kalina 'dass' school is located in the Southern Zone of Tigray, in Kukuftu, a frequently drought-stricken community 138 km south of Mekele. Kukuftu’s 496 households (367 male-led, 129 female) rely on traditional farming for their livelihood and the community grows sorghum, corn, and lentils. Though the people in the Kukuftu community are poor, they have great interest in education and recognize the importance of sending their children to school.
The Kalina school currently educates 233 students (117 girls). Because of inadequate resources at the district level, construction of classrooms has not been funded and programs such as teacher training and PTA development have not been adequately supported. Working with the Ethiopian Country Office, Saint David's is helping to transition Kalina school from a dass to a permanent structure with latrines, furniture, hand-washing facilities and basic training for teachers and the PTA.
We expect construction to take four months with the first month utilized for preparation, bid and contract agreement. Tigray and “Dass” Education Tigray is a hot and arid region located in northern Ethiopia. Eight in ten families in Tigray depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, but continuous land degradation, droughts and famines, excessive deforestation, over-grazing and continuous traditional ways of farming have played a great role in reducing agricultural productivity. Poverty is endemic. Although children’s access to basic education has increased significantly over the past decade, many locations in Tigray lag behind. Many of the children who do attend school do so at unfurnished open-air “dass” classrooms exposed to the heat, dust and weather, or at rude shelters.
Clean water and sanitary facilities are often absent.
By building the school, we will improve education and health outcomes for children by improving the skills of teachers, training parents and community groups to help manage the school and support their children’s education. We will also provide learning materials, through our partners, to the school. In the health arena, working with Save the Children, we will focus on the critical health and nutrition factors that keep the Kalina children out of school and reduce their ability to learn effectively.
This is an exciting program. The boys have raised more than 3/4 of the funding that's needed. If you'd like further information, please contact us.
On Tuesday evening, Lidia Bastianich, award-winning chef, restaurateur, television host and author, visited Saint David's to speak to the Saint David's Alumni Parent community and current Eighth Grade.
Interviewed by Alumni Parent Dr. Joseph Haddad for our Alumni Parent Council Lecture, Lidia recounted her youth in Istria when the once Italian peninsula shifted to communist reign after World War II, her two years spent as a refugee in Trieste, and her experiences after her family immigrated to America when she was eleven years old.
The boys were fascinated with her discussion about her family's escape
from Istria and her life as a refugee and immigrant. She
expressed her everlasting gratitude
to the people who provided assistance to her family in Trieste and when
they first arrived in New York. "I can't talk enough about the goodness
of the people who helped us," she
said. "I am where I am because of them."
Former Navy SEAL and Saint David's Alumnus Bill Berrien '82 fascinated all during his Chapel Talk Tuesday morning to our seventh and eighth graders.
A SEAL for nine years, Bill was a member of two platoons in South America as well as part of a Joint Special Operations unit. He shared his SEAL Trident with the boys, talked about the intensity of training, and noted he remains close to many with whom he served.
Connecting his service to the values that Saint David's espouses, he encouraged the boys to always be students--curious throughout their lives, to find the best in everyone, appreciate setbacks, and to learn from failures. In the video above, he addresses the first.
He closed by planting these "seeds" for our boys to consider: that life is a journey to be embraced broadly with openness to a variety of opportunities; being a service leader is of utmost importance; the unknown should be embraced; and, finally, that the boys be their own best friend, compassi…
Eighth graders and their teachers have arrived in Rome and are enjoying the first day of the 10-day Italian Study Tour.
Their first stop was St. Paul's Outside the Walls, where Cardinal Harvey, Archpriest of the papal basilica, provided a tour. Later, the boys visited the Spanish Steps, and toured the Pantheon.
Over the next two weeks the boys will visit sites in Rome, Assisi, and Florence. They will see in person the paintings, sculpture, and architecture that they have studied in the interdisciplinary humanities class. Each day their understanding will be deepened as they write about the experience and sketch the various works in their journals.
This trip is an exceptional opportunity for our boys to augment their in-class learning, build experience as citizens of the world beyond New York City, and strengthen their bonds as a graduating class.
I can't wait to join the boys and their teachers later in the week!