For Project Mercy, education is a core component of our model and integrated into all our holistic programs and services. So, in addition to the school that Project Mercy runs and five other schools that the organization supports, education is pervasive throughout the health care, food security, vocational training, child care, and vocational training as well as infrastructure development programs. We will touch on how education manifests itself in the programs outside of the school later in this brief.
In 1996, following a request from the community, Project Mercy built the Medhane-Alem school in Yetebon, a kindergarten and primary school initially serving 358 students. Increasing the school by adding grades incrementally, we graduated our first class of grade 12 students in 2008. In 2014, we completed the first high school facility in Yetebon. In addition to running its own schools, Project Mercy proactively supports five other schools in Yetebon, ChaCha and Shire through investments for expansion, delivery of healthcare, and technical assistance in improving teaching methods.
Today, the Medhane-Alem school serves 1,500 students – 1,300 of whom are in kindergarten through primary school and 200 students in the high school. Students in kindergarten through 8th grade are served two meals a day and high school students are encouraged to supply their meals. The school feeding component is made more sustainable by the fact that parents contribute voluntary hours to help prepare the meals for the children. The parents' participation not only decreases the cost of providing the meals for the children but it also improves the skills of the parents and it invites them to be partners in the provision of this critical service to their children.
Volunteer teams of doctors and nurses from the USA provide health care services to all our students, with annual physical examinations, vision screening, and identification of acute cases for additional treatment. Also, students receive clinical and emergency care through the Glenn C Olsen Hospital. Through a partnership with TOMS Shoes, students are fitted with new pairs of shoes once or twice a year. Some of these services are made available to other schools that the organization supports.