The Children of Ethiopia Education Fund, or COEEF, is a Utah-based organization that provides crucial access to materials, uniforms and an absolutely vital private education to many children in Ethiopia. Fiercely dedicated to the protection and instruction of young girls, COEEF provides a new kind of life in an otherwise perilous, sexist, underprivileged and poverty-driven region of the world. We share the mission of this organization as we mark our 6th year of support to such a pivotal duty of the world’s edification. COEEF takes its place in the school within our Service Learning Program, a program designed to give our students a channel to ignite character, build trust and connect with others through acts of true service.
COEEF was created by a local SLC couple: Norm and Ruthann Perdue, when they traveled to the country with a humanitarian mission. During their service, they learned of the great educational disparity in the upbringing of an Ethiopian child: with classrooms crowded, unfinished and ill-prepared. At the time, less than half of all Ethiopian citizens were able to read, and only half of all Ethiopian children had the opportunity to attend school. The two saw an immediate need for assistance, and they began working on a plan to improve these conditions.
While in Ethiopia, they learned of a child, 12 year old Kidest, whose father had died and whose mother had abandoned her shortly after, unable to manage under the strain of raising her alone. Kidest had been adopted by her grandmother, who managed to send her to a private school, the “Ethiopian Adventist College” with the mere wage that was paid to a hard-labor employee of the school. When Ruthann and Norm became aware of this situation, they connected with Kidest’s grandmother and found her bereft in her struggle to finance her granddaughter’s education. In her old age, she suffered physical fatigue, and she expressed that she did not know how much longer she could go on working to support Kidest in her pursuit of higher education.
This sadness would soon turn to joy, as after hearing her story, Norm and Ruthann decided that they would share some of the burden. They made a request to the school and discovered that for a donation of two-hundred dollars, they would be able to finance the girl’s yearly tuition, supplies and school uniform. This act of generosity would make them the first sponsors of the Children of Ethiopia Education Fund. When they returned to their home in Salt Lake City, they shared their story with everyone who would listen; and by 2001, they had convinced enough of their associates to become involved that they would return to Ethiopia to enroll 30 children in private education institutions. Shortly following this exceptional milestone, COEEF appointed a board of directors and was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization.
Participation and arranged donations in support of the COEEF service program are available to all MCS parents, students and volunteers. Our school is responsible for the education of 7 young girls and we seek to make the greatest contribution we are able to this established purpose. By raising money during our Annual Spring FunRun, our students help us finance this commitment, and everyone is able to share in the excitement of giving an immeasurable gift.
It is said, “Educate a woman and you will educate a nation.” We are proud to be continued sponsors of COEEF and we intend to remain loyal in our stewardship.
* At this time, COEEF is collecting school supplies materials for the children they support in Ethiopia. If you or your child are interested in donating to this season’s care package, please drop off your donation at our front office and their delivery will be arranged to COEEF headquarters before humanitarian representatives travel to Ethiopia in early October. If you are interested in making a personal donation to COEEF, or becoming a child’s sponsor, we recognize you and invite you to visit the COEEF website to arrange for your own stewardship.