Students Accepted to University

Summer is always an anxious season for grade 12 students at the BCI Academy. They study hard during the school year in preparation for the National Exam in June. The results of the exam determine whether they can proceed to university,  vocational training, or whether they must repeat the grade.

The Federal Ministry of Education in Ethiopia will pay for the university tuition for students receiving excellent grades on their National Exam. Since our students do not have the financial resources to attend university otherwise, entrance by exam is their only means of receiving a higher education.

We are thrilled to report that three of our grade 12 students have been promoted to university based on the results of their exam this year.

Congratulations to Esrael Yirga, Biniam Chekel, and Sitota Aschalew!

These students have been part of the BCI program for seven years and their hard work and the support of their sponsors has paid off. University is the critical final step in breaking the cycle of poverty through education. Please keep these students in your prayers as they begin this important next step in their education.

Esrael

Biniam

Sitota

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An Answered Prayer

You know those powerful moments in life when you feel God reach in and intervene in a way that is almost too awesome for words – those times when something falls together at a magnitude that can only be explained as a “God thing”? We are having such a moment right now in our ministry and are still in awe over the unbelievable way in which God has responded to our prayers for our high school building project.

The cost for the three-story addition was more than $150,000 USD. This was an overwhelming task, which we broke down into three phases. The minimum amount of progress we could make in order to open the first floor of the building in time for the 2017-18 school year was the foundation, walls, and roof. The total cost of this bare minimum structure was $16,600.

With less than a month remaining before the doors were set to open for the new school year, just over $2,700 had been raised. A panic was beginning to set in – how would we keep our high school students in class come September?

Then, a call came from Pastor Tadesse, our Ethiopian National Director. Bethlehem School in Debre Zeyit had been released from its overseas management team and was being offered to another NGO in the area. No land lease, no tax; just the incredible gift of a school. The question posed was – would we support the acquisition of Bethlehem School and subsequent expansion of our ministry? It did not take us long to answer “yes!”

The Ethiopian government informed us that due to our strong record of success with the BCI Academy – with particular attention to financial responsibility – we were chosen from 20 NGO’s to take over management of Bethlehem School.

We prayed for months to have the funds to build the addition just to keep our high school students in class. God responded by putting an entire school in our hands.

It is an understatement to say that we are overwhelmed by His provision.

Bethlehem School

Bethlehem school is home to 1,000 students. Not only do we have another building to use to expand the BCI Academy, we will now be responsible for an additional 1,000 students, tripling the reach of the ministry. This is an enormous responsibility and the task of preparing to open the newly acquired school in a matter of weeks has been daunting. We are so proud of our Ethiopian staff for their tremendous effort in making all of this possible.

Our management team has been busy interviewing and hiring 45 teachers and staff members, cleaning the building, and making repairs to bring the school up to operational form for the new school year.

Pastor Tadesse Touring the Property

Our work on the new addition to the BCI Academy will continue. We will complete the pedagogical center, one of the requirements that had been set forth by the government, and will also have space for additional classrooms. We will be able to save money on this project by making the addition one story rather than three story, since we now have space available at the Bethlehem School.

In response to the good news of receiving ownership of the Bethlehem School building, Pastor Tadesse quoted Luke 12:48: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

We ask that you please keep the ministry in your prayers and pray for our Ethiopian staff and our nearly 1,500 students who are now a part of the Blessing the Children family.

$20 Buys a Backpack

For children across the United States, one of the most enjoyable parts of a new school year is the back-to-school shopping trip for new clothing and supplies. Picking out a new backpack for the year is especially fun.

Back to school shopping is not part of the culture in a third world country like Ethiopia. The children expect to wear the same clothes they have played in all summer, mostly torn and stained from the muddy rainy season. Many carry their school books, papers, and pencils, hoping not to lose them on the way to and from school. Those that do have backpacks use them until they are in tatters.

As our students head back to school next week, many will do so with backpacks that look like the one pictured here – held together by a safety pin and barely able to contain school supplies.

The cost of a new backpack in Ethiopia is only 450 birr; just $20 USD. It is our goal to provide 50 of our children with a new backpack this year. If you would like to bless a child by providing a new backpack through our “$20 Buys a Backpack” program, we invite you to reach out to us or simply include an additional $20 with your monthly sponsorship payment. Let us know if you would like this applied to your child or for any urgent needs child.

Online: http://www.BlessingtheChildren.org/donate
By Phone: 1 (888) 269-2719
By Mail: 2267 Fraser Road, Kawkawlin, MI 48631

Extra Support Needed

We introduced you to Meheret Lakew two years ago. Meheret is a sweet 14 year-old girl who contracted meningitis at the age of 6 months. Like most children in Ethiopia, she had not been vaccinated against the illness, and it left devastating effects. Her ability to walk, talk, and control her bodily fluids was compromised.

Meheret requires regular physical therapy and the use of diapers. Her sponsorship pays for two diapers per day, but this is not enough. She requires additional support to afford enough diapers to stay clean all day and night.

Meheret in July 2017

For the past two years, Meheret has been blessed to receive sponsorship to cover the cost of these additional diapers and therapy. Before the extra sponsorship, Meheret slept on a plastic sheet at night and went without a diaper. Imagine having to put your child in this unsanitary situation.

Unfortunately, Meheret’s additional sponsorship has run out. She is in need of $60 per month in additional sponsorship to keep her in a steady supply of diapers.

Meheret and her mother face many challenges in their daily life. Living in poverty in Ethiopia and having a disability are independently difficult circumstances. In spite of it all, Meheret is a joyful girl. She always has a smile on her face and enjoys attending church service. Her mother does the best she can with the challenge of raising a disabled child in extreme poverty.

If you would like to bless this family by providing the additional sponsorship needed to cover her medical needs, we invite you to reach out to us.

Online: http://www.BlessingtheChildren.org/donate
By Phone: 1 (888) 269-2719
By Mail: 2267 Fraser Road, Kawkawlin, MI 48631

Summer School

The doors to the BCI Academy don’t close when the school year ends. We make our facilities available for learning year-round. Many of our children take advantage of the summer season to advance their studies. In fact, 80 students ranging from grades 1 to 10 participated in summer school this year. In the midst of the slightly cooler weather and frequent rain, it’s great to see our students and staff making the most of their time indoors!

Teacher Development

At the BCI Academy, learning does not end when the school year is over. We believe that learning is a year-round endeavor and we provide plenty of opportunities for both our students and staff to continue to grow over the summer. One such example is a teacher development workshop that took place from July 25-28. Ten teachers from the BCI Academy participated along with two teachers who will join the staff in the fall. In addition, one of our university students who will graduate next year with a teaching degree also took part, as well as one of our social workers, Getu Belay.

The workshop was led by Hailey Gebre, an experienced teacher who is now an expert at training other teachers. Mr. Gebre provides development opportunities for many schools in Ethiopia.

Teacher Development Workshop in the BCI Academy Library

We believe that providing the opportunity for staff to develop is an important factor in offering a quality education to our students. One of the primary goals of the training is to expand teaching perspectives and to share additional techniques and new methods for teaching. The university instruction of teachers in Ethiopia can be slow to progress at times, and many times the instruction is in long-held practices. These workshops offer new approaches to help students progress with the times.

Another focus of the workshop was to help the teachers understand how to work with children who come from challenging home situations, as many of our children do. Participants explored the impact of a difficult home situation on conduct and learning at school, and received advice on how to work through these challenges to facilitate a strong learning environment.

Slide from Workshop Presentation

KG Graduation 2017

Each summer, we invite parents and guardians to the school to watch their children receive recognition for accomplishing the first important step on their education journey – kindergarten graduation. The children wear caps and gowns and are called up one at a time to receive a flower and a diploma. There are also speeches and the children participate in songs. It’s a joyful time full of many adorable, smiling faces. Congratulations to the Class of 2017!

Children Waiting with Excitement

Child Receives Diploma

Developing Leadership Through Public Speaking

Precious Child Singing

Class of 2017

Parents Day at the BCI Academy

Parents Day is an annual event at the BCI Academy where students are recognized for their academic achievements from the past school year. Parents are invited to watch the students perform songs and take turns receiving recognition. This year the celebration was held in the newly remodeled cafeteria. The freshly painted walls and bright blue floor provided the backdrop for this gathering and there were many smiles from proud students, parents and staff.

All Smiles on Graduation Day

Young Student Looking Dapper

Students Singing Joyfully

Heartfelt Congratulations from Principal Mulugeta

Character Counts

We were recently blessed with a pair of interns from South Dakota who spent 6 weeks in Ethiopia sharing their passion for ministry, education, and global missions. The interns created a series of classes based on character traits, introducing a new topic each week.

Grade 1 through 4 students at the BCI Academy were invited to participate in these classes. Activities included arts and crafts, sports, acting, singing and praise. The interns poured into the hearts and spiritual lives of the children, forming a special bond with them along the way. It was a great time of community, friendship, and personal growth and it underscored our desire to help the children develop into strong leaders who can impact their community.

Class Topics:

  • Determination
  • Bravery
  • Honesty
  • Forgiveness
  • Worship
  • Loving One Another

Our interns had this to say about the experience:

“The children went from wiggling in their seats (while we talked) about this thing called “determination”, to squealing with delight after an intense game of Red Rover. After that first class, they were hooked. We are excited to see what the Lord continues to do (in) the lives of these children.” – Kayli

“The character classes were my favorite part of the entire experience. They provided us with the opportunity to show the love of Jesus to the children. The relationships that I built with them are some that I will treasure forever.” – Jenna

Grade 4 Students Enjoying an Outdoor Game

Practicing Determination Through Play

Spending Summer Break in the Church

Character Class on Trust
“Whoever can be trusted with every little can also be trusted with much and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10

 

School Maintenance

We have been blessed over the years to receive support from our international family in building a quality school that changes the lives of nearly 500 students each year. We believe that it is our responsibility to be good stewards of this investment, and one way in which we accomplish this is by actively maintaining the building and grounds.

Each year we make updates to the building to ensure that it does not deteriorate, especially from the impact of a long rainy season during the summer. Over the past year, these updates have included new paint for the exterior, reinforcement of the walls and windows, and installation of a new walkway. Most recently, all of the gutters were cleared of leaves and debris to ensure that our school stays dry for the duration of the rainy season, which extends into the fall.

We appreciate the build-the-scenes work that our staff undertakes during the summer and throughout the school year to keep the BCI Academy in top shape!