Brave Hearts' Work in Changing Lives

By Kellie Picker

The Right to an Education

Like other children in the world, Brave Hearts’ children love to learn. While learning is not confined by time, place or experience, learning through education plays a vital role in the development of knowledge, concepts and skills, which lead to opportunities later in life. The Brave Hearts team recognises the importance and the impact an education can have on a child’s life. As a result, they work tirelessly to ensure the educational opportunities available to the children meet and develop their personality, talents and academic abilities to the fullest. In relation to learning, one of Brave Hearts’ first goals is to ensure all children have access to, and attend school. To support the children in this endeavour Brave Hearts supplies uniforms, school bags and academic books where needed.

The staff at Brave Hearts also realise that education goes beyond schooling. Thus, they are reaching out to other organisations and bodies who can help support and provide other learning opportunities for the children. Currently, Brave Hearts is working with academics from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne to develop ways to improve the children’s numeracy and English literacy skills. They have made strong connections with The International Leadership Academy in Ethiopia who has offered a number of places for the Brave Hearts’ children to attend their Summer School Leadership program. And, through their connection with the Australian Embassy in Ethiopia, they have been offered five VET training place for children nearing completion of their education.

Added to this learning are the many extra-curricular activities the Brave Hearts’ children are immersed in throughout the year. Dance, taekwondo, football and excursions to local environments are just a few of the learning experiences the children participate in. Computers at the drop-in centre give the children agency over their learning and allow them to extend their knowledge in personal interest areas. Such learning opportunities, not only consolidate what the children know and can do, it also helps develop ICT skills, as well as Cybersafety. Due to their specific focus on learning and their thorough educational goals, Brave Hearts has witnessed six of their children graduating from secondary school and entering higher education to obtain a university degree.

It is clear that Brave Hearts is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to education!


Hand in hand with the Right for children to have an education is also their Right to get and share information. One way information can be absorbed is by having access to a broad range of literature. Along with providing a wealth of information, some of the benefits of books and reading include reducing stress, developing vocabulary and thinking, as well as exposing the reader to the realms of fantasy and actual worlds.

With the generosity of Dean Hanson, this Right has been realised for Brave Hearts’ children, with the donation of over 10,000 books; through Book for Africa. This has been further supported by Brave Hearts’ partners and now has a digital library system to keep track of all the books. The children’s excitement with the new and extensive library has been observed in one child carrying a copy of The Three Little Pigs and Goosebumps around since its opening and in Harry Potter being a popular title on the borrowing list.

Flash Toilet Project

Proper sanitation and personal hygiene reduces the risk of people contracting and spreading diseases, making them critical to good health, normal development and long-term survival. In Ethiopia and many developing countries, improved sanitation facilities, such as toilets and latrines, allow people to hygienically deal with their waste appropriately, which in turn helps break the infection cycle of various diseases. With this, the Brave Hearts’ children and their families in mind, Brave Hearts set out to improve the children’s health through a community initiative titled ‘Operation Flash Toilet’. The initiative’s aim was to improve the children’s health through improved sanitation as quickly as possible: in a ‘flash’. Brave Hearts initially identified the homes of eight children to be a health problem, but due to limited funding the work was restricted to the homes of two children with the highest sanitation risk.

One can only imagine the grimy and gungy work involved in renovating a one room toilet used by 41 people but with the support of the local government member and the expertise of a local plumber, Operation Flash Toilet was a huge success. Now, the two Brave Hearts children, their family and the immediate community, are benefitting from the installation of three flushing toilets, a shower, wash corner and large septic tank. The significance of this thoughtful and needed initiative is reflected in the children attending school more regularly, less illness and everyone in the community experiencing greater dignity, privacy and personal safety.

Kellie Picker M.Ed, Honours is a Clinical Specilaist at the Science of Learning Research Centre and a PhD Candidate at Melbourne Graduate School of Education of the University of Melbourne. The University is ranked as Number 1 in Australia for Education, top 5 in the world (QS World University Rankings by Subject). She is also a passionate writer and volunteers on Educational Development and Support at Brave Hearts Ethiopia.