Jacqui Gilmour and Yared Wolde, co-founders of The School of St Yared, arrived at the vision for the School together, but by way of very different life paths.
Jacqui, an Australian national, has been deeply engaged with Ethiopian communities since the 1980s, pioneering programs in areas ranging from famine relief to the front lines of the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Growing out of these interactions, Jacqui began to dream of founding a school in order to address the needs of these young people, who were deeply resilient and yet understandably incapable of recognizing their own potential to change the circumstances of their lives and of those around them.
Yared was one of these children. As a young boy, he lived in a one-room home with his family until his father was drafted in the war with Eritrea and killed. The rest of his family died of tuberculosis soon thereafter, forcing him to the streets for three years.
In their brief time together, his mother had instilled in him the value of education, and with that conviction, Yared worked odd jobs to put himself through school, eventually landing in a series of orphanages.
It was here, aged nine, that he met Jacqui. Their friendship continued to develop, and some years later Yared began working for Hope for Children as an interpreter for many of the community conversations and dialogues in which Jacqui was engaged.
Yared’s own belief in education changed his life, and he wanted to give others access to similar opportunities.
Jacqui saw a need to further support the resilient young Ethiopians she’d met through her work, to help them recognize their own potential to change the course of their lives and the lives of those around them.
As their friendship developed over the years, Yared and Jacqui found themselves asking “What might be possible for Ethiopia’s poorest children if they could realize their true value and potential?”
To find out, in 2009 they founded The School of St Yared.