Gubaya High School

The Gubaya High School, built in 2008, was funded by Club Penguin and the New Horizon Foundation along with the people of the region. The total cost of the project was CDN $240,000, with $200,000 coming from Club Penguin and the community donating $40,000 of the cost with labour and materials. Also of note is that Gubaya High School is the largest project that Partners has ever taken on.

What is particularly notable about this project is the level of sacrifice that the villagers and former residents made to make this school happen. There were up to 700 villagers who worked on the project…some days had all of them working!!! The school was built from scratch and allowed children in the area for the first time ever to pursue a post elementary education. Prior to the project only the very few kids whose parents had relatives in urban areas and who could do without the kids for after-school-chores were able to continue their education. The inauguration was in February and is featured in our introductory YouTube video featured on our homepage.

Another point not made in our Newsletter story is that the school will attempt to upgrade itslef to to a pre-university institute next year. This will involve having to add a few new buildings and raising more money. But this community now has the confidence and experience to make that a realistic goal and we are sure that they’ll be successful.

From our November 2008 Newsletter…

It Takes A Village
Supporters often ask “How do you find your projects?” or “How do you ‘partner’ with an Ethiopian group?” Here’s the story of one project.

Gubaya, a cluster of small villages in central Ethiopia, is 17 kilometres from the nearest town, Dejen. The people are poor and till the soil by hand. There are 5 elementary schools but the nearest high school is in Dejen. It might as well be on the moon. There are no vehicles and the distance is too far to walk twice a day. Schooling stops at Grade 8.

“I was a good student and finished Grade 8 top in my class in Gubaya, I however, was not fortunate to continue Grade 9 and beyond. For we had no high school in Gubaya. My father found it impossible to handle the field work without my support and he refused to let me go to Dejen to continue my high school education.” ~ Dereje Mamo, a former student


Some students from Gubaya had continued their education by boarding with relatives and gone on to successful careers. They wanted to give children in Gubaya the chance to continue their education but the cost of a new high school would be $240,000, an impossible sum in a community where people live in mud tukuls and the per capita annual income is about $125.


Partners agreed to build a high school if the village would contribute about $40,000 in labour and cash. A portion in cash because the “value” of the village labour would be less than the 15-20% contribution required by Partners for any project.

Everyone promised to contribute. The head priest explained that those too poor to contribute 50 Birr (about $6) could sell a goat or sheep that would otherwise be used to commemorate a religious holiday (“God will understand”). The villagers tracked down former residents of the area who had emigrated to other countries…challenging them to contribute and offering titles (“Hero of Gubeya”, “Ambassador of Gubeya” etc. to the top donors). Local farmers sold livestock and foodstuffs and each family in the area contributed something. Several hundred villagers pledged their labour to local contractors.

The New Horizon Foundation, a charitable organization created by the founders of Club Penguin (, and dedicated to relieving poverty and improving the health and general wellbeing of children and families around the world, decided to sponsor the Gubaya project.


In May 2008 construction began. Up to 700 villagers worked each day digging foundations or carrying rocks for the contractor. In September a representative of Club Penguin attended a grand celebration, depicted in the photos. Four weeks later classes began with 425 students, including 85 earlier graduates of the elementary school system who had had to abandon their education.

“I have never thought that a high school will be opened in Gubaya in my life. I struggled hard to send two of my children to do their high school in Dejen…. Our children have to walk very long distance every weekend back and forth for we can’t afford the food cost and we need their labor. And this led us to a decision to not send two of our daughters for a high school education. Had there been a high school earlier in Gubaya, our daughters too would have continued their education instead of getting married early.” ~ Gubaya parent

“Seeing a high school opened in Gubaya is like a dream come true: I can now resume my education with no regret for the three years I was out of school.” ~ Dereje Mamo