From Conflict to Classroom: Zinash's (15) Journey of Resilience

Thursday 18 May 2023

Zinash sitting in a classroom attending her lessons.

Story summary: 

Zinash, a 15-year-old girl, is a fifth-grade student at a primary school in Ethiopia's Amhara Region that is supported by Save the Children through the LEGO Foundation's Play Matters project. Zinash’s family are subsistence farmers who make a living through small-scale farming and livestock raising; however, due to the recent war in the area, the family was unable to farm.

Zinash had to drop out of school and stay at home for nearly a year last year due to war in her hometown of Tsemera. Zinash and other children in her village are returning to school this academic year thanks to the financial support from Save the Children through LEGO foundation.

Strong quotes: 

“A year ago, my family and I ran from our village escaping the fighting that broke out here in our village”

“Houses were destroyed by the conflict and properties were damaged and many people had to flee the area escaping the fighting”

“Now after almost a years, I am able to continue my education and I am in grade five at the nearby Tsemera primary school that Save the Children supported”  

“I am very grateful to Save the Children for providing us learning materials that enabled us continue our education”

Zinash’s story in her own words (Quotes): 

My name is Bertuukan; I am fifteen years old, and I have one older brother and two younger sisters from my father's new marriage. I am in fifth grade and attend Tsemera Primary School. In Tsemera, I live with my mother and brother.

Last year, I ran away from the fighting with my mother and brother, carrying our meagre belongings. We had only a few belongings with us when we left our house at the time. I used to go to school before the war, and I was in fifth grade. I recall being at home during the conflict and hearing gunshots, as well as heavy artillery being fired into the town, which was terrifying.

As a result of the conflict, many houses and people's property have been destroyed. The level of devastation we witnessed was unimaginable. The war has had a devastating impact on children. No child, in my opinion, should have to witness or experience this type of pain. Schools were closed, and we were forced to drop out for nearly a year. I would have been in sixth grade, but I had fallen behind because I had stopped going to school for a year due to the war in the village.

Zinash sitting with her mother in their home

My family does not have much. My father abandoned us after marrying another woman a few years ago. My mother is the one who looks after me and my brother. We make a living by renting out our small farm land.

I am extremely grateful to Save the Children for the bag, exercise book, pencils, eraser, and other educational materials that I received. Save the Children has also provided me with menstrual hygiene pads, allowing me to continue my education without interruption.

I want to further my education and assist my mother in any way I can. My favourite class subject is science, and when I grow up and finish my education, I want to be a nurse and help people in my community”.

Background / Project information 

Since October 2022, the Play Matter project has been implemented in collaboration with LEGO, IRC, and Save the Children (SC). The project aims to reach 8,334 students in 24 pre-primary and primary schools, as well as teachers, PTA members, and government officials, in three districts of the Amhara region's Wag Himra Zone. The project's goal is to provide a coordinated, rapid, and effective humanitarian response to the needs of children in the conflict-affected zones of Wag Himra Zone by focusing on their educational well-being.

The IRC-LEGO Foundation is committed to creating a future in which children are empowered to become creative, engaged, and lifelong learners through play. It also works to improve students' learning and development outcomes by strengthening the resilience and capacity of education in emergency response. Among the project's activities are:

Save the Children has reached over 21,000 preschool and primary school children in crisis-affected areas of the Waghemra zone of the Amhara region with learning materials and regularly providing high-energy biscuits to preschool children in the 24 ECCE centers established and supported by the project, thanks to funding from the LEGO Foundation's Play Matters project.

The project also furnished and supplied learning materials to newly established and existing ECCEs, allowing young children to learn by observation while being protected from harm.

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Watch her video on youtube here.