Katheryn Hoerster’s blog
Hoerster K. of TX
(59% of total budget)
Funds Still Needed
The summary below was provided by the Peace Corps Volunteer and the community administering this project.
Orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) in Atsbi, Ethiopia are just about hopeless. They have no family, no means of improving their situation and community support covers only truly basic needs. Furthermore, without an education the OVCs have no way to escape a life of poverty. Yet many cannot afford materials and school appropriate clothing and therefore cannot take full advantage of the free education provided by the Ethiopian government.
The Desta Dairy & Egg Farm project will give a local Primary School a sustainable way to purchase materials for enrolled OVCs. 130 students in the first year of the project and countless more in the following years will be given the gift of hope. Others in the community will also benefit through capacity building, environmental awareness workshops and access to milk and eggs.
Institutions all over the region have promised full support in hopes of bettering the lives of community members. Peace Corps Partnership Program funding for the Desta Project will allow the school to purchase one dairy cow, 100 chickens, seeds for elephant grass, sesbania and alfalfa, basic equipment to care for the livestock, and a three-month supply of feed. The community will cover the rest of the costs. A committee of teachers, government officials, PTA members, school administration staff and student representatives has been formed to oversee the planning and implementation of the project.
Without hope, OVCs have nothing. This project will change lives for years to come by providing homegrown, heartfelt hope for the children of Atsbi.
Project Update – June, 2013
Dear Members of HoTPCA,
First, thank you so much for your generous donation to the Desta Project. Your support and kindness mean more than you know to the people of Atsbi, Ethiopia. Rest assured that every dollar you donated is changing the lives of the children who attend Atsbi Primary School.
I wanted to take a moment to update you on the progress of our project. Over the last month we’ve been working diligently to begin implementation. The community of Atsbi has come together to finish construction on the building that houses the animals, plant trees that will someday help sustain the project and learn the basics of managing a small business. We held a short but effective training for several of the school staff and PTA members who will oversee the sale of the products and who are the most involved in other aspects of the Desta Project.
After we made the necessary pre-livestock arrangements, we went cow shopping. Several of us piled into a borrowed car and spent a day looking at all the dairy cow specimens we could find. With the help of an agriculture development agent, we picked one whose “hugeness,” age and health were acceptable. Several days later we finalized the sale with a ceremony complete with yogurt made from the cow’s milk. That same day, the cow, which my Ethiopian counterparts named Lemlem, walked eleven miles back to Atsbi where she now happily resides. We brought her days-old calf, which I named Lone Star, back with us in the car.
While this part of the Desta Project was certainly exciting, our work is far from over. This summer we will save enough money from the sale of milk to purchase school materials in September. In the coming months we will also purchase the chickens, which will begin laying eggs several months after that. For the next six months I will be overseeing the progress of the project to ensure its sustainability. I hope to keep everyone updated as our project implementation progresses.
In Ethiopia, we drink coffee to celebrate special occasions, and the start of this project is no exception. Please know that for each of the seemingly endless cups of coffee I’ve drank, and will drink, I’m thinking of those of you who selflessly gave to make the Desta Project a reality. Thank you!
Project Update – October, 2013
The school year has finally started in Atsbi, and with the return of teachers and students we’ve been able to implement the final stages of our project. The rainy summer months proved to very productive for everyone; our dairy cow, which has been living at the school for five months now, has given more milk than we expected. Part of this is due to the generosity of the Parent-Teacher Association, which donated a great deal of high quality food for Lemlem. The community also hosted a tree-planting day at the school to ensure a sustainable source of livestock fodder for years to come. Over and over again, the community has shown its support for this project and the underserved population it benefits. My heart is warmed each time I encounter someone who wants to help the school in its endeavors to better the education of all students.
Several weeks ago a few of our project committee members went to the city to purchase one hundred chickens and the rest of the project supplies. It was a long day, but we finally got all the chicks home safely. We purchased thirty-day old chicks, which are hardier and already vaccinated and should begin producing eggs in about three months. It felt great to be back at work with my counterparts and friends.
Half of the money that we raised from selling milk over the summer was used to purchase notebooks, pens and pencils to distribute to orphans registered at the school. While this was the ultimate goal of the Desta project, I was just as happy to hear that the committee had decided to save half of the summer’s proceeds to guarantee that the chickens could be fed until they begin producing eggs. This decision demonstrates an important commitment to sustainability of the project.
As my time in Atsbi comes to an end, I’ll be working closely with the school and committee members to make sure the project will be sustainable after I leave. The new Peace Corps Volunteer who has been assigned to work at the school will also continue checking on the progress and helping with any challenges that may appear in the future. Finally, I’ll be putting together a more formal project report that I’ll send out in the next few weeks.
Once again, thank you for the donation you made to this project. It has been so rewarding to work with a school that is dedicated to improving education for the children of Atsbi. Our work would not have been possible without your generosity.