Helping Blind Children in Ethiopia

The Mekele Blind School in northern Ethiopia is a boarding school for approximately 90-130 blind boys and girls, ages 6-16. With the highest rate of preventable blindness in Africa, Ethiopia has a great need for this little school. Conditions at the school are harsh. The school has been water-insecure for years, and the quality of the water is poor. The students eat a very limited diet of white bread for breakfast and a pancake of njera for dinner. We have improved the diet since 2007 by sponsoring a fruit delivery twice per week. In addition, with the help of the Torrington Rotary, we have built a wonderful garden which grows chard, onions, zucchini and tomatoes. These are added to the meals, which we believe has bolstered the health of the children. We have hired a full-time gardener and pay his monthly salary. For more about the Rotary garden, please click here.

When we first came upon the school in 2006, there were very few learning materials, no Braille books, no games or balls to play with, and no real supervision. There are three classrooms, and still only 2 qualified teachers. The children attend classes from 9:00 until noon, so meaningful learning simply cannot happen with the large student body versus the few instructors. Since then, we have made many improvements, including the building and staffing of a Braille library, now filled with over 500 Braille volumes.

The status of the school is very complicated. It was started approximately 20 years ago by an Irish religious group, and along the way, management was abandoned. The Ethiopian government stepped in out of necessity, but the will to educate and care for these children by their government seemingly is not there. They are a very neglected group of intelligent children, eager to learn anything someone might be willing to share. We are reminded of this every time we go to Mekele, and we learn more about the heart than one can describe.

Thank you for visiting our site. We feel certain that you will enjoy meeting the wonderful children at the Mekele Blind School as you peruse the pages here. Please feel free to contact us at anytime. We are always looking for donations of Braille books, learning aids, modified games and toys for blind children, first aid supplies or, of course, money.

Thank you again for your concern,
Chris Hanley, President and Founder
Friends of Mekele Blind School (FMBS)