The early efforts of the repatriates to provide education for their children can be trace back to early homeschooling efforts. We have such an attempt recorded in 1975, when Brother Donald “Flippin” Leach started homeschooling in his humble home with 6 young children. This effort arouse from the need of the newly arrived English-speaking repatriates to provide the basics of education to their children born in this remote non-English-speaking environment. Brother Flippin and his wife Yvonne from Kingston Jamaica, were among the early repatriate pioneers who labored in the homeschooling of their children and others in the community.
In the early 1980’s, Brother Karl Hamilton, a Jamaican by birth and graduate of Adelphi University in New York, repatriated to Ethiopia. He soon assumed and upgraded this homeschooling of children in the community by using his own yard-space where he conducted classes under a shady tree, with the children sitting on flat stones and make-shift wooden benches.
However in the late 1990’s, Brother Albert “Teach” Allen, a trained teacher from Jamaica repatriated to Ethiopia and advanced this educational process. He upgraded the educational journey into a formal school structure with 15 students and was allowed by The Twelve Tribes Of Israel organization to locate the operation on it’s premises in a 15’ X 30’ zinc shed at the back of its headquarters compound.
In 1991, Bro Allen relocated to a 2-classroom adobe building on its current 3-acres site nearby with 30 students, assisted by sister Janet McLaughlin, brother Yoseph Leach, and a native Ethiopian Teacher Bruck, all labouring on a skimpy stipend.
With the formal inauguration of the JRDC in 2002, the school was adopted and brought into its portfolio, as the first phase of its government-approved NGO education project. The U.S.A based Shashamane Foundation was listed and authorized as its primary overseas financial sponsor registered with the Ethiopian authorities.
With ongoing funding and oversight support from the U.S based Shashamane Foundation, and other well-wishers, and a number of consistent grassroots supporters and organizations (20 years documented in our Donation Log Page on website ) the JRDC has been engaged in the successful development and operation of the school. Today its facility now consists of the original Kindergarten adobe building with 4-classroom ( in need of relocation and rebuilding on same property), a modern 2 floor level concrete elementary school building with 8 rooms, an stand-alone administrative office, a small library, a computer room, a large 1-room art building, a and modern concrete sanitary facilities for boys and girls; all housed on the same 3-acre plot of land.
The JRDC supports a paid staff of 29 persons, consisting of teachers, guards, janitors, a Librarian, Secretary, a Principal and a Project director, 99% of whom are native Ethiopians. The paid staff is supplemented by several community volunteers, including members of the board of the JRDC, who are involved in oversight of the schools operation. Since 2003, the school has been offering a full-day program to students, ensuring the learning of mathematics, science and reading in Oromiffa, Amharic and English. as well as reading strategies and extra modules of learning, which has resulted in high standards of literacy among the student population. High quality education offered at the school has resulted in the achievement of consistently high marks by grade 8 students, who sit national examination. JRDC students have consistently ranked the best in the region, with several of them achieving over 90% score on the national examination test over the years.
( Above) Existing Kindergarten facility with children and Staff. Immediate goal of JRDC is to replace facility with 3 classroom concrete facility.
With a current student population of roughly 400, a staff of 29 and annual operating budget of roughly U.S. $45,000, the school receives no government funding whatsoever and the JRDC relies totally on an established parent cost-sharing arrangement to cover 40% of this cost (U.S. $18,000) and on the U.S based Shashamane Foundation for the other 60% or U.S. $27,000.
In order to fulfill it financial commitment to the school, the U.S. based Shashamane Foundation has been producing an annual dinner & fashion show fundraising event in the Washington, DC metropolitan area for over eighteen years, with 100% of the proceeds going to the cause. Similar events were staged for several years by a group of sisters and brothers in Hartford, Connecticut, in conjunction with the Shashamane Foundation, with 100% of the proceeds going toward the JRDC school project .
In recent years, the ongoing annual fundraising event in Washington, DC generates an average of $5,000 and the Shashamane Foundation relies on private, goodwill, grassroots financial donations to cover the other U.S. $22,000.
The grace of The Most High God and generosity of faithful supporters, have brought the school this far and thousands of poor and needy children have benefited. The JRDC and the Shashamane Foundation are contemplating ways to reach the goal of sustainable development as soon as is possible. In the meantime, we will continue to need financial support, technical assistance, other educational supplies from goodwill donors and supporters. This is of primary importance in order for this educational institution to not only survive, but to develop and grow.
PLEASE SEE THE “DONATIONS LOG” FOR THE RECORD OF THOSE WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED FROM 2000 TO PRESENT.