In 1995, when we embarked upon the mission of educating one of the most marginalized nomadic communities in rural Ethiopia; little did we know that we were in for a long haul than we had anticipated!
Prior to GTF’s arrival on the Karrayyu land, the concept of modern education in any form, infrastructures like health and water facilities, road services were all nonexistent. Like many pastoralist communities in the country, the Karrayu people of Fantalle district led their nomadic lifestyle peacefully without any close contact with the outside world. In doing so, they were clinging to one of the oldest forms of existence depending on their animals for centuries. These beautiful, proud and remarkably resilient desert dwellers had everything. What makes the Karrayyu situation disheartening though is that they live not faraway from Ethiopia’s capital.
Despite being self-sufficient and living peacefully in harmony with the environment living off of their livestock abundance; yet by their own admission they lacked one thing: education. They passionately outlined this crucial need for education of their children and grandchildren during their unlikely meeting with Aster and Lensa Gudina of the Gudina Tumsa Foundation (GTF). Luckily, our devoted founders sat listening under the acacia tree among the gentle Karrayyu herders and took the elders’ plea by their word.
Under the scorching sun in an extremely challenging circumstance in a new environment; GTF built ‘Dandi Gudina Primary School’, the very first school in Dhebiti village of Fantalle district. Finally, the establishment of the school was a dream come true, a truly once in a life moment! Overcome with great joy and tremendous sense of fulfillment, they termed the school, ‘saaqaa dukkanaa’—a sparkle in the dark! From this pioneering educational achievement; needless to say, our team of committed workers and wonderful partners went on serving the marginalized and hard to reach rural communities in Fantalle and other areas through various holistic development approaches which emanates from the vision of Rev. Gudina Tumsa, the martyred outspoken secretary of the Ethiopian Evangelical Churches Mekane Yesus (EECMY).