Disatu EYES Foundation
Nestled in the heart of the picturesque city of Wolisso, in Southwest Shewa Zone, just 114 km away from Addis Ababa, you’ll find Disatu EYES Foundation, a beacon of hope and opportunity for high-potential Ethiopian high school girls. The foundation is on a mission to increase the educational landscape for girls in Ethiopia, and statistics show that it’s a mission that’s desperately needed, with a 62 percent dropout rate for girls from primary school.
Disatu EYES Foundation provides a comprehensive STEM tutoring and healthcare program that empowers these young girls to overcome the odds stacked against them. The foundation recognizes that these girls have to attend their respective high schools during half of the day, and it’s here that Disatu EYES steps in. With a team of exceptional teachers from different schools, these girls spend the rest of the day at the foundation, receiving top-notch education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), English, and IT.
Established in 2018 by Shiferaw Gebre Mariam (Ph.D), the Disatu EYES Foundation draws inspiration from his remarkable Ethiopian-born mother, Disatu G/Mariam Tassu. A woman of brilliance and talent, she instilled in Shiferaw a deep sense of hope. This 501c tax-exempt organization, rooted in New Jersey, extends its reach with a registered branch office in Ethiopia, operating as an NGO.
Despite modest means, Shiferaw’s mother, Disatu, motivated him to strive for excellence, embrace educational pursuits, venture into new realms, and explore the vastness of the world.
Reflecting on his upbringing, Shiferaw shared, “As a young boy, I envisioned a radiant and fulfilling future in her eyes—a future I could only grasp at the edges. To honor my mother’s unwavering faith, I dedicated myself to hard work and the pursuit of the potential she saw in me,” expressed Shiferaw during the announcement of the establishment of the Disatu EYES Foundation.
The foundation’s core mission is to offer educational and healthcare support to high-achieving, low-income girls in rural Ethiopia and help young Ethiopian girls harness their God-given talents, reach their full potential, and succeed in life even though all odds are so intensely set against them.
Services provided by the foundation include STEM education, English and IT tutoring, basic healthcare assessments and training, food stipends, and scholarships to college. This holistic approach ensures that these young girls receive the support they need to pursue their dreams and succeed in life.
Shimelis Eshete, the Coordinator of the Foundation, stated that they provide support and monitoring to help these students qualify for university and find work after graduation even with their financial limitation.
“Female students who come to the foundation will receive 300 Birr every month to support them with expenses like transportation and other needs. Even with limited funds, all female students would receive financial support to cover their educational expenses without difficulty,” he added.
Ethiopian girls face numerous challenges daily, including limited access to education, poor nutrition, poverty, and poor hygiene. They also bear the burden of familial obligations, such as supporting their families. Disatu EYES Foundation recognizes these hurdles and aims to break down the barriers that have held these girls back.
Shiferaw Gebre Mariam, founder of Disatu EYES Foundation, addresses different challenges but the foundation actively seeks support from local businesses, individuals, and NGOs to expand capacity and secure sustainable funding, as aspiring students eagerly await enrollment, underscoring the mission’s need for increased support.
The Disatu EYES Foundation aims to educate numerous students and spends around 1.3 million birr annually towards achieving this goal, according to the Foundation’s data.
One remarkable success story is Sebotu Beyra, who narrowly escaped the fate of early marriage. Through Disatu EYES Foundation, she found the strength and focus to excel in her studies and has set her sights on entering university with excellent grades. Her story exemplifies the impact of the foundation in helping young women overcome challenges and prepare for leadership roles.
The coordinator, underscores the innovative project’s mission: empowering female students to excel in diverse fields such as health, engineering, law, justice, and leadership.
Despite facing challenges, Disatu stands as a beacon of inspiration, serving as a role model for making a meaningful impact.
Meet Endedelaw Dejene, a dedicated English teacher with five years of unwavering commitment at the Foundation. Within this tight-knit educational family, he and six fellow educators cultivate a familial bond with their students. They firmly believe in nurturing the future leaders of the country, guiding them to contribute meaningfully to society through the power of education.
Endedelaw proudly attests to the transformative impact of financial aid on their students. Beyond academic excellence, this support has become a catalyst for heightened confidence levels. Empowered by this assistance, students receiving financial aid are not only thriving academically but are also poised to make substantial contributions to society in diverse ways.
The investment in these students goes beyond textbooks; it’s an investment in building responsible and upright citizens. Endedelaw’s confidence in the foundation’s support is unwavering — a stepping stone towards the students’ success and their future roles as invaluable contributors to society.
He urges others to unite with him in sculpting a brighter future by embracing education and empowerment at the Foundation.
Over the past five years, the foundation has helped 75 students qualify for the 12th-grade exit exam and 61 students have successfully joined university, thanks to the support and monitoring provided by the foundation.
The foundation firmly believes that financial assistance plays a pivotal role in enabling the most economically disadvantaged students to pursue their education unhindered. To this end, the foundation provides a substantial financial aid package, starting with 6000 birr in the first year, and subsequently continuing with 5000 birr throughout the students’ university years. This financial support has not only alleviated their personal expenses but has also allowed them to fully concentrate on their academic pursuits.
Rihana Shemsu, a soon-to-be Hawassa University student and a proud recipient of the foundation’s support, speaks passionately about the transformative impact it has had on her educational journey. Having received vital financial aid, she not only gained the means to pursue her studies but also acquired the knowledge essential for excelling academically.
Rewinding to 2019, Rihana vividly recalls emerging as the victor among 50 female students from diverse schools in the foundation’s entrance exam. It was the beginning of a journey marked by the foundation’s commitment to providing not just an education, but a knowledge-based experience coupled with practical support. Rihana acknowledges that this unique combination has significantly eased her university experience, laying a solid foundation for her future success.
Disatu EYES Foundation calls on the community, local businesses, wealthy individuals, and NGOs to support their mission. Their aim is to help even more young girls achieve their dreams and contribute to society. The foundation believes that by empowering young girls, they are helping society succeed as a whole.
Shiferaw emphasizes that they are addressing challenges such as English proficiency, internet access, and the lack of reference materials. To achieve these goals, they call for the government’s support, expedited customs procedures for educational materials, and collaboration between NGOs and government agencies.
The foundation is committed to expanding its capacity, offering summer programs, and helping students who failed the college entrance exam. They are actively seeking corporate sponsorship to secure additional funding to make their mission sustainable. Shiferaw expressed his gratitude to Johnson & Johnson for their generous support, which has been instrumental in starting and sustaining the foundation.
Disatu EYES Foundation believes in the immense potential of young girls and is determined to create an environment where they can excel, succeed, and give back to their community. Your support can make a significant difference in the lives of these girls and the future of Ethiopia. Join us in this noble cause to educate, empower, and transform young lives for a better tomorrow, invited Shiferaw.
The motto of the Disatu EYES Foundation is simple but powerful: Dream, Achieve, Succeed, and Give Back! Together, we can make this a reality.
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