| One of Rotary’s six areas of focus is supporting education for all children and literacy for children and adults. The goal is “to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy, reduce gender disparity in education, and increase adult literacy.” But why? Why did we just spend so much time and effort raising money for School District 11? Why do we send scholars like Kailee into the world? Why do we send and receive youth exchange students?|
I think you would understand the answer to all those questions if you knew about Mestawot.
Mestawot lives in Holleta, Ethiopia, just west of Addis Ababa. She’s a high school senior, set to graduate second in her class and earn a full scholarship to university. She would have had to drop out of secondary school without a $300 scholarship from a Rotarian because her family wasn’t independently able to afford her education. I say her family, but I mean her mother, because that’s all the family Mestawot has. But my point isn’t to congratulate us for supporting Mestawot. That scholarship was a seed, but the watering has been left to other hands.
The power of Mestawot’s story is that she used the help she was given to give help to others. She joined with friends at her school in an informal service club. They contribute one day per week of their transportation costs to help the elderly with their transportation. Rather than selling or renting their uniforms to poor juniors, Metawot and her group have organized a way to donate their uniforms after graduation to new students who truly need them. And who know what Mestawot will do with her university education to benefit herself and her community?
Literate adults are better able to participate economically in the development of their communities. They enjoy better health because they better understand the health information given through care provider instructions or medication directions. They are also better able to communicate with their children’s teachers and to help their children with schoolwork. “The power of literacy lies not just in the ability to read and write, but rather in a person’s capacity to apply these skills to effectively connect, interpret and discern the intricacies of the world in which they live.”
Everything we do in Rotary comes back to education. We promote peace through our Fellowships and Youth Exchanges, and the method chosen is education. Community education is a critical component in disease prevention and eradication and in the promotion of better sanitation. Community development cannot happen where there isn’t adequate education.
Education is all, so thank you for all you do to promote education here in the Springs. Thank you for reading to school children. Thank you for sponsoring their concerts and buying them instruments. Thank you for opening your homes to youths from around the world on exchange. Thank you for providing children with hands-on learning experiences like the Planet Walk. Thank you for supporting scholarships for our student athletes, our outstanding seniors, and our peace fellows. Thank you for supporting the Rotary Youth Leadership Award. Thank you for your time, your talents, your financial support, and your mutual support of each other in this effort.
Now let’s go plant some more seeds together.