People with Disabilities

We aim to support people with disabilities to develop their capacities and maximise their opportunities for self-reliance.


  • Exeter Ethiopia Link provides support for High Achieving Disabled or Disadvantaged students to access further education. One student who has benefited from this support is Bonsa (pictured opposite). He passed Grade 10 exams(GCSE equivalent) with high marks and was offered a place at Preparatory School to study for university entrance exams. He was initially unable to accept because (due to his disabilities) he had no way to reach the school, which is some distance from his home. EEL sponsorship provided transport and, having passed the necessary exams, he is now studying at Ambo University.

  • Exeter Ethiopia Link has supported for the unit for children with Special Educational Needs at Birka Bekumsa Elementary School by providing funding for furniture and by donating resources.

  • The Inclusive Education Project is a 3 year project that identifies children with special needs and makes it possible for them to attend school, and also provides literacy courses and other support for adults with disabilities to encourage them to attend short courses and provide loans to help them set up income generating projects. You can read more about this project by looking at Current Projects on the Education Page of our website.

  • Exeter Ethiopia Link has supported the Nekemte ‘School for the Deaf’ with equipment and small grants for over 10 years and during that time hundreds of children have been supported to study and live lives where they can engage and function in ways that would not be possible in their previous settings.

  • Exeter Ethiopia Link also supported the setting up of a Learning Disability Unit for younger children at the School for the Deaf, with funding for furniture and resources.

  • Exeter Ethiopia Link has funded and operated a microfinance scheme to enable people who suffer from elephantiasis (a disease which leads to grossly enlarged feet and legs) to start and operate their own small businesses.

Current Projects

Supporting students with hearing impairment to attend secondary school.

Since 2013 Exeter Ethiopia Link has supported young people with hearing loss who graduate from the Nekemte School for the Deaf to continue on to secondary school. We campaigned, with the School for the Deaf, for signing teachers to be provided in some mainstream schools, and with additional tutorials funded by Exeter Ethiopia Link the 37 students who we support have made remarkable progress. We now need to find accommodation for these students and we are looking for sponsors to help us keep these young people in education. For more information about our sponsorship appeal click here.

Why this project needs support

  • Education in Ethiopia has made huge advances in recent years.... read more...

  • Despite the advances, people with disability have very limited access to education... read more....

  • In 2002 the Nekemte School for the Deaf was established to provide residential primary education to those with hearing impairment.... read more...

  • In 2013 Exeter Ethiopia Link began supporting young people who graduated from the Nekemte School for the Deaf to access secondary education.... read more...

  • The students attending secondary school need accommodation....

Samuel's Story

Now a 3rd year engineering student, Samuel Lelisa grew up in the village of Ijaji with his two brothers and widowed mother. Samuel and one of his brothers were deaf from birth. Despite the fact that in Ijaji disability and deafness were believed to be a curse, his mother remained unashamed and determined to send her children to school. Samuel and his brother attended Nekemte School for the Deaf. Samuel completed Grade 8 as one of the school’s brightest students.

Samuel went on to study for his Grade 10 exam at a secondary school in Hosanna. It was during this time that the Nekemte School for the Deaf, with support from EEL took the initiative to campaign for students with hearing impairment to be supported in mainstream secondary schools. Samuel and five other students returned to Nekemte and joined the government preparatory school. They were the first to benefit and were provided with a signing teacher. EEL funded tutorials for the main subjects in which they needed help and bought the students supplementary books. None of this additional input would have been affordable for Samuel’s mother who was fully stretched financially, funding school fees and transport for Samuel and his brother.

Samuel worked hard and he and four other students with hearing impairment passed their Grade 12 exams (A level). As a result he was offered a university place. Samuel is now in his second year of civil engineering university degree. Life is not easy. Samuel described his current challenges:

"There is no teacher to support in the department with the signing, teachers only speak and do not write on the black board. I cannot copy from the blackboard and therefore struggle to fully understand. There is no help for the deaf in the university."

Despite the challenges Samuel persists and through hard work successfully passed all his exams so far.

Desi's Story

Desi Tesfaye comes from a farming family in Sire village. She started studying at Nekemte School for the Deaf while still young and completed Grade 8 exams

She then studied for Grades 9 and 10 at Biftu Secondary School where students with hearing impairment are taught alongside mainstream students with input from a signing teacher. Desi, along with other students with hearing impairment, received additional tutorials to support her learning.

In addition to academic studies Desi has represented the Nekemte School for the Deaf as a shot put player and won a trophy in the regional paralympics competition. She is now a member of the Oromia regional paralympics team. Being part of this team brings Desi some income which she uses to support her family, as well as covering her daily expenses while she studies.

Desi is now studying for Grade 12 and will take the national university entrance exam. She is an inspiration for the other students, some of whom are following her path. One is Gebrehiwot, another former student from the Nekemte School for the Deaf who benefited from tutorials and who is now studying for Grade 11. Gebrehiwot is also a member of the Oromia regional paralympics team.

For More information on how to support the students please:

If you have any questions or comments about this project please email Anthea Duquemin and title your email: EEL student sponsorship scheme