Don Bosco School (Jemo 1, Addis Ababa) is a very special school dedicated to homeless boys living on the streets of Addis Ababa. "Loving kindness in education" is the institutional motto. The school has room to board 200 boys, and daily, a bus goes to the city center to pick up additional kids who live on the street so that they can take part in daytime activities. At the school, children are fed and cared for, provided basic education and the chance to develop vocational skills, such as mechanic skills, sewing, cooking and now gardening.
Mr. Eskinder Mulugeta has a beautiful vision of a food secure Ethiopia, achieved through food secure schools. Travelling to Uganda for work, he noticed that it was very normal for schools in Uganda to have horticulture and poultry and dairy to supplement the education and diet of the school community, as well as to help manage the school running costs. He notices that these days in Ethiopia children learn advanced courses like chemistry, but the agriculture classes that were offered when he was a child have been removed from the curriculum. In his opinion, learning how to produce your own food is one of the most important things that the education system should teach. Many of the public schools have more than a hectare of land; while it is important that kids should have the chance to play sports, there is still plenty space left over for kids to learn to to grow food on. "As an African, it is more important to teach children about agriculture than football," he said. He got a grant from Reach for Change to establish school gardens, and in just 3 months, he established 5 school gardens - at Don Bosco, Makdala Public School, Sene 9 Public School, Abiyot Fana Public School, and Abuna Basilios Public School. Ever resourceful, Eskinder is always looking for resources in unusal places. The school cooking fires he sees as a source of ashes for his gardens. He has reached out to the AgriProFocus Network for access to garden experts and seedlings. He has collaborated with Care to integrated permagardening techniques into his gardens.
At Don Bosco, recreation is helpful for the kids to refresh their minds so they have better attention for their training. this is especially helpful for children not accustomed to full days of school, or kids struggling with addiction. When the children go out and play sports or spend time tending to the garden then go back into their training better. Furthermore, good nutrition has several benefits for health and creativity. While some of the children at the school don't enjoy being out in the sun in the farm, others really have become good farmers. On January 4, 2015, the school honored both the top gardening students with bags of vegetables from the farm, and for the top student, Mikias, a pair of boots. See the speaches of Mr. Eskinder and of the awarded youth gardener, Mikias in the video below. Brother Endalk shared that the work that they had done in the garden was proof that "ycahlala!" it can be done! You can do it. Brother Yohannes reminded that the fruits of the garden they held in their hands wer from seeds they planted just three months before. They could use the skills they had developed to help their families and to earn money. Aba Angelo reiterated the importance of food and encouraged all the gardeners because no life without food!