A beacon of light in Ethiopia

November 24, 2017
St Yareds Trust founders Beryl and Peter Bailey

Friday, 24 November 2017 By Farnham Herald in Community News

A PIONEERING project to transform the lives of disadvantaged Ethiopian children is going from strength to strength, thanks to the commitment of a Haslemere couple.

When Beryl and Peter Bailey founded their own private charity, they searched for the cause closest to their hearts. Inspired by Australian Jacqui Gilmour’s charity, Hope for Children, and particularly its ‘School of St Yared’ project in Addis Ababa, the Bailey Charity worked to fund the purchase of a permanent home for the “beacon of light” school.

The School of St Yared, named after the East African country’s patron saint, was founded by a remarkable Ethiopian, Yared Wolde, who was orphaned aged six. 

He slept in a drain and lived off leftovers before being taken in by nuns and managed to turn his life around.

In 2009, aged 22, he founded The School of St Yared with support from Hope for Children, to help children like himself from the slums of Addis Ababa.

The school originally opened in a rented compound but needed a permanent home to secure its future. 

Following lengthy discussions between the Bailey Charity and state agencies, the Ethiopian authorities offered three sites with disused school buildings, and one with a training centre, at minimal cost, from which to expand the project, in an area of the city where need is even greater than that of the current catchment.

The school now offers some of the highest quality education available in Ethiopia to some of the most deprived children in Addis Ababa. The Bailey Charity has also funded delivery of the international primary school curriculum and a senior teacher. 

In recent national examinations the children of St Yared’s achieved an average score of 88 per cent, compared to 67 per cent gained by local public and private schools. Following the land offer, the goal now is to expand education from kindergarten through to high school and increase the number of students to more than 1,000.

To pursue that goal, Beryl and Peter have established a public charity, St Yared’s Trust (UK).

It is dedicated to expanding The School of St Yared, and equipping its students with the vital skills they need to move out of poverty, but, like their inspirational school founder, stay in Ethiopia to make a significant contribution to the development of their country.

St Yared’s Trust has been chosen by the Charities Aid Foundation as one the good causes donors can support on JustGiving Tuesday, November 28, and Beryl and Peter hope people will dig deep to make their dreams for the school a reality.

On that day, Beryl will be on one of her regular visits to the school, and hard at work in the kitchen making lunch for the 316 hungry pupils educated there.

“The children are so grateful,” she said. “They can’t believe, coming from such terrible backgrounds, that someone is doing something for them and they are so motivated to work hard.

“We provide social and medical support for the families, too. We can only offer one place per family and each family must commit to keep that child in school.

“We are working with UNESCO to be part of its Green Schools initiative. 

“The project is backed by Hope for Children and Yared is such a fantastic role model to show you mustn’t grow up rejecting your background but help the poor.”


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