Jemal Abdul Kerim

From tragedy to a brighter future thanks to education.  Jemal Abdul Kerim tells his story.

“My parents died when I was only eight years old and, because of our circumstances, I ended up dropping out of school 3 times. The third time, I thought I would have to give up completely - I decided to get married and work” says Jemal Abdul Kerim, who is a Grade 6 student at Bekkaye Primary school.

Attending school wasn’t easy in Bekkaye community for many years. There was limited access to education facilities and supplies, plus there was not much awareness of the value of education.

Jemal and his nine siblings were all victims of these circumstances. He says, “My parents didn’t send my elder siblings to school because they needed them to help look after our cattle. After my parents died, things got even worse and even those of us who did attend school had to drop out because we could not afford school supplies.”

Despite not receiving an education themselves, Jemal’s older siblings saw the value of education and committed to sending their younger brother and sister to school.

“My brothers sent me and my younger sister to school about a year after we lost our parents, when I was 10 years old. I liked the fact that I could make friends in school, but I still had to be absent from school sometimes to look after the cattle. I first dropped out after I passed to Grade 2, but then went back again a year later.”

Jemal attended education on and off until Grade 5, dropping out a total of three times over the years. After the last drop out, he never thought he would make his way back to school.

Jemal says, “After my parents died, we faced serious financial problems and we all needed to work to survive. Just as I was thinking of getting married and working full time, I heard about the Costa Foundation and imagine1day investing in our school facilities.

They bought us school materials and have promised seed money to set up my own business. This will mean a lasting income for my family – if I follow my education through to the end.”

Jemal is now a top-ranking student in his class and says that the facilities at the new school have made all the difference: “A lot has changed in my school. The newly constructed classrooms are of high quality and we have water, gender-segregated latrines and a library with plenty of reference books. This is a huge difference in our community where once upon a time there were over 100 students to a class - a class with no seats and dusty ground. I ranked third in my class in Grade 5 and I am studying hard to rank first this year. I want to become a doctor so that I can help the community and also prevent other children losing their parents like I did,” he concludes passionately.

I am proud of my mother – she is the strongest woman I have ever known. I support her by helping her with house chores and by making money working as a day labourer. We are going through school together.

Lomnesh Tadesse, Adanech’s daughter