U.S. Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Program provides support for Primary School Gender Club in Jimma

Jimma, October 16, 2014 The Embassy of the United States of America has awarded a $2,000 grant through the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Program (SSH) to a project initiated by the Gender Club members of Sexo Yeado Primary School.

The project focuses on over 60 vulnerable girls every year who otherwise dropout from school due to financial limitations.  The implementation of this project will provide educational materials to disadvantaged girls and strengthen the gender club’s role in eradicating Harmful Customary Practices, as well as address the cause and impact of illegal migration to the Middle East.

Last year, Hibret Primary School in Jimma received a small award from the SSH program to equip their Gender Counseling Center.  The Center facilitates discussion among female students on sensitive issues in a confidential setting.  Volunteers from Jimma University and counseling professionals facilitate the discussions.  Club members who have no convenient place to study at home also use the Center for studying, and volunteer teachers provide tutorial classes for female students in the facility.  Additionally, government officials, religious leaders and parents meet in the Center to discuss issues that affect women and girls in the area.

Upon receiving the grant, Muluwork Taddes, the Gender club coordinator said, “There are a number of deep-rooted Harmful Customary Practices (HCPs), including female genital mutilation and early marriage, which are prevalent in the region.  The gender clubs are currently addressing these issues.  The migration crisis that we are currently facing is related school drop-out rates and psychological problems. Through continued discussion and follow-up, the gender clubs have been able to save more than 35 school girls aged from 12-17 who were preparing to illegally migrate to the Middle East.”

The Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Grants Program was established in 1964 as a diplomatic function of the Office of the Ambassador to support local initiatives within host countries.  SSH grants are one-time, one-year grants that focus on the areas of education, health and environment, water and sanitation, and income generating activities. Communities funded through the SHH program must commit to provide a significant local contribution, either financial or in-kind, to support the proposed project.