Save the Children and Mimi's Building Blocks

2006 - 2013 Achievements

Building Girls' Confidence to Continue Their Education


Fourteen-year-old Degnesh lives with her parents, two brothers and sister. Every child in her family now attends Mimi's Building Blocks. Degnesh says, "I am so lucky that we have education in our village!"

Before Mimi's Building Blocks built a middle school, students had to walk three hours each way to get to the Melbe School. This was in addition to performing daily household chores, fetching water, and collecting firewood. Now Degnesh says, "I can continue my education due to the upgrading of our Mai Cheka complete primary (1- 8) school in our village. This is not only good for me but also for my friends and especially for all the girls in our village."

When Degnesh grows up and finishes her education, she wants to be a Mathematics teacher and perform cultural dances with her peers.

Mimi's Building Blocks is impacting children's lives every day in Mai Cheka and the other educational centers by building confidence in the community and allowing children to learn and develop to their full potential. Degnesh extended her appreciation to Mimi saying, "She not only built a school but also she built our spirit and morale by visiting us every year." Thank you Mimi's Building Blocks!

Bringing Education to Hundreds of Children in Rural Ethiopia

Save the Children has been on the ground in Ethiopia since the famine of 1984, when we provided lifesaving food, water and health services. In an average year the education, health and economic situation for millions of Ethiopian children remain a crisis. Today our programs have increased significantly to meet these constant challenges. 39% of the population live in abject poverty and this has made life particularly hard for farmers and pastoral communities in rural areas. Save the Children's education goals in Ethiopia are creating a positive change by providing education to those children, including girls who ordinarily would not receive schooling.

Turning a Vision into a Reality

The historical area of Tigray in Ethiopia has never had schools or education other than thatched circles called "Dasses" for local children, mostly boys. In 2006, Mimi O'Hagan visited this northern arid area and decided to ask friends and family to help raise funds to build a primary school. Her project, "Mimi's Building Blocks," has built four educational centers – Afgol, Maicheka, Dagia and Adi Gogol - providing educational opportunities to hundreds of children through Grade 8. Illiterate family members are also benefiting by learning to read books and helping their children with homework (under candle light!).

Save the Children is grateful to both Mimi O'Hagan for her continuous vision of providing innovative and sustainable educational solutions for the children of Tigray and to all of her donors who have helped make her vision a reality.

Donate Now to Support the Mimi's Building Blocks Education Initiative in Tigray, Ethiopia


Mimi's Building Blocks initially built primary schools, grades 1-4, to provide educational services for children. However, once these children completed fourth grade, they had to travel long distances to attend classes in the upper primary schools (grades 5-8). As a result, children dropped out of school and parents were hesitant to send their children to school because of safety concerns. To address this issue, Mimi's Building Blocks allocated funds to construct additional classrooms at Afgol, Maicheka and Dagia for children to continue their education and attend middle school, grades 5-8. Adi Gogol is a complete primary school for grades 1-4. The Afgol school also constructed access for disabled children.


The four MBB educational centers allow children to start their schooling at the appropriate age.  As part of its Literacy Boost program, Save the Children also works closely with teachers, local administrators and the community at large to assess and improve learning outcomes for children at the 1-3 grade levels. Training skills are provided to the teachers, community reading camp leaders, facilitators and parents. As a result, students in MBB schools and other schools where Literacy Boost is incorporated have seen tremendous improvements in their reading skills including letter knowledge, word and paragraph reading and comprehension.

Little Girl in class


Save the Children’s Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) program provides a foundation to prepare children for basic education. In spite of increased recognition of the importance of learning in the early years, far too many children in Ethiopia do not have access to early childhood education programs. To promote feasible ECCD programming in the school, Save the Children works in partnership with the local government and community leaders, so that a classroom is dedicated to ECCD in all Save the Children supported community-based schools. The ECCD centers offer indoor games and an outdoor playground.


Save the Children’s School Health and Nutrition (SHN) program is being implemented in all MBB schools and ECCD centers as part of an ongoing activity through sponsorship funding. All primary school students and ECCD children are de-wormed for intestinal parasite infection on an annual basis. Schools are provided with first aid kits to treat minor injury and teachers trained to deliver first aid services. Additional training on the management of water, sanitation facilities and hygiene is also given to teachers and students.


Schools at Afgol, Maicheka, Dagia, Adi Golgol and a new primary school at Mahago are brimming with joyous students. During the school year 2012–13, a total of 760 children (360 boys/400 girls) were enrolled at the first four MBB schools, of whom 713 (93.8%) completed their respective grade and were promoted to the next level. Promotion rates were 97.6% for boys and 97.2% for girls at the primary grades 1–4 and 82.9% for boys and 83.2% for girls at the middle grades 5–8. Even though the promotion rate of middle school students is lower than primary, MBB middle schools are among the highest achieving in the region. 


Just seven years ago, Mimi's Building Blocks began raising funds to help Save the Children provide proper education for the first time in the Tigray region. Children are now exercising their rights to gain access to education thanks to the help of Mimi O'Hagan and her generous supporters! Our partnership is making a real difference in the lives of hundreds of Ethiopian children. Thank you!

Save the Children is deeply grateful to Mimi and her friends for demonstrating an unfailing commitment in bringing education to children one block at a time, over the last six years. Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Mimi’s Building Blocks has not only succeeded in changing the lives of many children in Tigray, it has also helped to change a nation for the better. Thank you!

Together we can ensure ongoing improvement in the lives of Ethiopian children.  

Donate Now to Support the Mimi's Building Blocks Education Initiative in Tigray, Ethiopia

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