A Day In The Life

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A typical school day looks a little different in Samre, Ethiopia compared to a school day for a child in the United States. 

A Typical School Day in Ethiopia for Maebel*, age 12
5:00 AM: The day begins. Maebel’s day begins when the sun rises

5:15 AM: Travel 15 minutes each way for fresh water. The jerrycan Maebel fills up at a nearby stream can weigh up to 40 pounds. Maebel is an orphan and lives with her aunt. As the oldest child in her extended family, it’s Maebel’s responsibility to provide fresh water at the start of each day. 

5:45 AM: Begin preparing breakfast. Maebel makes breakfast from scratch for her entire family each morning, usually consisting of injera, an Ethiopian flatbread made of teff flour. Without electricity, this is not a simple task and must be made in the family’s one-room home. 

6:30 AM: Feed and care for the family’s goats and livestock.

7:15 AM: Clean up and prepare for school. For Maebel, this means washing up outside with some of the water that she carried on her back earlier in the day. 

7:30 AM: Begin the walk to school. For Maebel and most of the children we serve, there is a 30-minute walk to and from school. If she’s lucky, she may catch a ride on a motorcycle!

8:00 AM: School begins. Maebel’s favorite subject is math. She dreams of becoming a doctor one day!
While schools are technically public in Ethiopia, students are expected to provide their own uniforms, textbooks, and lunches. Without the funds to afford this, children are unable to attend school and are often forced to drop out at a young age.

Most school days in Ethiopia are about half of a typical American school day. This is in large part because of the responsibilities placed on children and the need for additional income and help with chores. 

12:00 PM: Walk home from school.

12:30 PM: After school, Maebel works part-time selling vegetables, nuts, and local guava.

3:30 PM: Maebel spends much of the remaining day completing chores such as cutting grass and harvesting grains, caring for siblings, and replenishing the family’s fresh water supply.

7:30 PM: Maebel completes homework by the remaining daylight. If she’s unable to finish her chores before nightfall, she’ll be forced to study by candlelight.

8:30 PM: After completing her chores and homework, Maebel loves to play a game called tata with her siblings! The only materials needed to play are some stones or jacks, and the idea is to throw five stones up in the air with one hand and catch as many as you can on the back of the same hand.

9:00 PM: After a long day, it’s time for sleep! 

*Maebel is a pseudonym. Her story is based on that of hundreds of young girls in Ethiopia who receive sponsorship support through AGCI.