Addis Ababa Students Visit WFP School Meals Programme

On 18 May, 2011, 15 students from Addis Ketema Preparatory School in Addis Ababa visited students at Kassim Primary School in Debre Libanos to learn more about WFP’s school meals programme. 

These two groups of students didn’t expect to connect with each other. But that’s exactly what they did.

From out of nowhere, there was clapping. A circle of students formed, one joining the group every few seconds. If you could navigate the voices singing and necks straining to get a peek at what was happening, you were rewarded with five girls in the centre of the circle, laughing and dancing to a traditional Ethiopian song. 
 
At first glance the arrangement didn’t seem special. But three girls wore stylish clothes and carried cell phones, while the other two donned ripped second-hand sweaters. The privileged three were from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. The others were from Debre Libanos, only 95 km from Addis Ababa, but worlds away from life in the city.
 
On 18 May, 2011, 15 students from Addis Ketema Preparatory School in Addis Ababa visited students at Kassim Primary School in Debre Libanos to learn more about WFP’s school meals programme. 
 
Before the 17 year-old Addis Ketema students even spoke to Kassim students, they were shocked by what they heard and saw.
 
Their surprise soon turned to admiration. “Every day I get up at 7 o’clock and say ‘Ugh I’m too lazy to go to school’ and it just takes me ten minutes to get there. But these kids are taking one hour, two hours out of their day in order to get an education. We take everything for granted,” Selamawit Mendefro reflected.
 
The visitors watched the meal being prepared and distributed, then talked to the students as they ate, asking them their names, their ages, where they are from, how far they walk to school. But the real fun happened after the meal was over.
 
“Who knows the eskista?” one student from Addis called out, referring to a traditional Ethiopian dance.
 
A small girl raised her hand shyly as a circle gathered around her. 
 
Although the visit was brief, it had a lasting impact on the Addis Ketema students. Mikiyas Getachew, an aspiring teacher, explained that his desire to teach was reignited after the visit, “They need well-trained teachers,” he asserted. Other students are working to donate old books from their school library to Kassim.
 
These two groups of students didn’t expect to connect with each other. But that’s exactly what they did.
 
The group slowly dispersed, shuffling back to class. But not before the students from both schools snapped photos and exchanged hugs, grateful for this experience that was much more than a field trip.
 
 
 
Written by Allison Bream, Princeton Fellow, WFP Ethiopia Country Office