"The School of St. Yared - an educational blue print for eradicating poverty in marginalised communities in Ethiopia."
His mother had instilled in him the importance of a good education as the route out of poverty. Yared used his meagre earnings to pay for his schooling costs. With nothing left for food, he fed himself from the market garbage. He worked hard in school and did his homework under the street lights. This was his life for three years.
Nuns from the local convent passed him regularly, noticed his plight and invited him to join their orphanage. He did so readily when he found a good education was on offer. Life in the orphanage was harsh, with little in the way of home comfort. The children were not allowed out of the compound. Yared’s free independent spirit found this hard to bear.
At the age of 11 he fell ill. His body became swollen and eventually he was so sick he could not get out of bed. Little help was forthcoming until a visiting Irish nun took him to hospital where a leaking heart valve was diagnosed, probably caused by carrying heavy loads in the market at a very young age. The Nun arranged for him to go to Israel for an operation and he made a full recovery.
Yared had the great good fortune to be sponsored in the orphanage by Jacqui Gilmour, an Australian who has been involved in the aid industry in Ethiopia for many years.
By the age of 17 Yared had become indispensable to the nuns, working as an English interpreter and translator for their adoption work. Many of the orphans were adopted abroad to the USA, Canada and Malta. He was befriended by an American academic who adopted four children from the orphanage.
Yared Wolde is the co-founder of The School of St. Yared. He works tirelessly in support of the project, with its children, and in the community. The respect he commands in the community is awe-inspiring. He is married with a young family of his own.
At age six Yared was orphaned. His father died in the army in Eritrea, and shortly afterwards his mother and three siblings died of tuberculosis. Yared survived as he slept under the family bed rather than in it with the rest of the family.
An Ethiopian community will normally help a child in this predicament, but they know only too well how disease spreads in their impoverished living conditions. Yared was ostracised. He found work in the market running errands and carrying loads for the traders, and slept in an old drain.
On their return to Ethiopia Jacqui and Yared discussed their shared vision of a school specifically for the most impoverished and marginalised children of the slums of Addis Ababa. Jacqui had visited the School of St. Jude’s in Tanzania, a beacon educational establishment in Africa. This was their model. Together Yared and Jacqui co-founded St. Yared’s School in 2009. They leased a compound, and for three months Yared worked creating classrooms, building furniture, and generally making the place fit for purpose. The school started with 44 of the most needy children. Five of the children were sponsored. The rest were funded by Yared and Jacqui. The School of St. Yared was born.
In his late teens Yared left the orphanage, taking nine other boys with him, his ‘family’. They lived in a shipping container. Yared found work with his interpreting and translating skills, but the other boys were not so able. Yared found it difficult to support them all. Eventually he telephoned Jacqui, not for financial help but to ask for work for the boys he was supporting. Yared started to assist Jacqui in her aid work and they became firm friends.
In 2008 whilst Jacqui and Yared were in India escorting eight children from Black Lion Hospital in Addis for heart operations, Yared received a message from the American academic whom he had met in the orphanage. He offered Yared a scholarship to continue his education in the USA, covering his university fees and accommodation, with a view to becoming an American citizen.
Initially Yared was euphoric, but on reflection turned down the offer. He could not abandon his community of boys for whom he felt responsible and who depended upon him.