Mt. Tulu Welel (10,900 ft.), Western Wollega, Ethiopia
The Ethiopian Rural Education Project grew out of a partnership established in 1996 by the Presbytery of Susquehanna Valley in New York State and Western Wollega Bethel Synod in Ethiopia. As a result of member exchanges between the two groups, one of the participants, Professor Thomas W. Scott of Cornell University offered a suggestion that could address the lack of schools in rural areas. Having read Robert D. Kaplan's book, The Ends of the Earth: A Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy*, Professor Scott realized that the Rishi Valley rural school program that Kaplan described could be applicable to the Ethiopian situation. The idea caught on, and in 1998 we started down the road to schools in Ethiopia.
Today's participants in this project include First Presbyterian Church of Ithaca, New York, Northside Presbyterian Church of Blacksburg, Virginia, and LearningWell Partners International, Inc. of Blacksburg, Virginia. (LearningWell Partners has applied for, but has not yet been granted, 501(c)3 tax exempt status.)
The Presbytery of Susquehanna Valley is in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and Western Wollega Bethel Synod is in the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY). Both the EECMY and PC(USA) are members of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC).
*Robert D. Kaplan, The Ends of the Earth: A Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy. New York: Vintage Books,1996. See Chapter 24, "Rishi Valley and Human Ingenuity".
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