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Reading rooms full of children

The group at King Mekelik's palace.

Today we had a chance to visit some reading rooms, or small libraries, in the company of CODE Ethiopia's Executive Director Tesfaye Dubale.

The first one was meant to be a youth centre, but when the community heard that CODE would start a library in their area, they donated

it freely and have begun construction right next door for the youth centre. It promises to be a great spot for children in the area. The kids at this reading room spoke English well and we jumped into the centre of a group of students, laughing and talking with them.

The second reading room we vis

ited was in a town called Sebeta, in a semi-urban area just outside of Addis Ababa. It first started as a converted one-room house, donated by the town's mayor in 1988. CODE-Ethiopia provided books and trained four librarians and five management committee members. With improved resources and services students from Sebeta and also the surrounding area flocked to the Reading Room.

The Sebeta Reading Room was so successful that a second larger one was built by the community to accommodate the demand for access to resources. It's an impressive story, and we were especially inspired to learn that community members are now working to erect a third library building, thanks to a generous benefactor in the area. In addition, the local government has now included ongoing funding in their municipal budget. This is the definition of sustainability and success in development, and we're all feeling lucky to see it.

-Ann Speak, Director of Fundraising, CODE

"Ato Tesfaye can only be described as charismatic. He is a man with a powerful presence; clear vision and quiet determination to have all Ethiopian children become readers and writers. He understands real change only comes with the full involvement of all community members who respect each other and work for common goals beyond their personal benefit.

He understands that the efforts of other to help less fortunate people must be rooted in strategies that ensure sustainability or the benefits beyond any immediate or short term measure. He understands children need to read and write to be successful and move beyond their current circumstance but they also need to read for pleasure, as a source of nourishment through their literate lives. I believe what I witnessed today was the passion and skills of a truly gifted teacher."

-Ray Doiron, tour participant

"Our talk at the CODE Ethiopia warehouse was very informative and confirmed my opinion of a well though out program that had evolved through the years to build the partnerships that made it both efficient and

sustainable. The warehouse was stacked floor to ceiling with books of interest to both adults and children. "

- John Kaminski, tour participant

"So far Ethiopia seems to me to be a large, complex and fascinating country. Given this background, the effectiveness of CODE Ethiopia is truly amazing. Their model of the three legged stool (municipal/local government, the community and CODE Ethiopia) ensure that literacy gains can be made. Not only does this tripartite relationship build literacy, it also makes a neighborhood into a sustainable community. The challenge is to bring this to every neighborhood in this amazing country. This is hope for their country and Africa."

- Margaret Casey, tour participant