Well, we're on the move again, the day after tomorrow.
I just want to explain to you a little bit about what these journies are like.
I wouldn't want you to think that these trips are pure protocol and that we are like visiting royalty, type Rania of Jordan greeted with big bunches of flowers, coffee tasting and welcome party.
It's not quite like that. Well, we do accept the flowers, have a quick cuppa and if there's a bit of a welcome traditional dance, we don't complain but basically we roll up our sleeves and get down to work straight away.
The work consists of meetings, meetings and meetings. Dicussions, discussions and discussions.
Meetings which last hours and hours and if there is a bit of luck we just might make a little bit of progess.
Discussions which last hours and hours and with even more luck might come to an end earlier than the last one.
We have encountered some construction problems. After having given us permission to continue with the construction of the dining-room the Kebele changed his mind and told the builders to come to a halt. Everytime there is a difference in opinion as to how to procede the kebele orders that the building be stopped. We have discovered too that the kebele and the Edir are not getting on and agree on very little.
When we are there we will be having a meeting with the Kebele and will try to discover what the problem is that exists between these two entities.
As you already know, we plan to provide a nursery for children between one and two years old. This part of the population is extremely vulnerable since breastfeeding is not enough and the "injera" which is available is inadequate to nourish a baby.
To add to all of this, we discover that many more children have been admitted to the school than anticipated. Not only the new two year olds (20) and the new three year olds (30) but an extra 60. We imagine, that on arrival, we will discover children even hanging from the lights.
We have enough land to house the two nursey classes (previously primary classes), the kebele has decided that it doesn't want primary classes on the same site) but we wonder if we will we have enough room for everyone because we now have 91 four year olds..
But we have good news too. Our good friend Barry is coming on this trip to examine the land and to work out if there will enough space to provide for the swelling number of children under our care. He will also take control of discussing any changes with the local builder check out building suppliers etc..
We happily pass on this task to someone with experience in these matters.
Our project "sponsor a child" is now underway. This program has been designed to help parentless children, others who are under the tutelage of neighbours, friends or relatives and others whose parents are ill. I fear that there are many more children in high- risk situations that we had foreseen. During our trip we will visit the families involved in this scheme.
One of these house visits will be particularly difficult. When we visited this home in June, the mum told us that her husband had HIV and that she, herself was frightened to have the test, We explained that if her test was negative she could live fear- free and even if it was positive, there were certain treatments that she could resort too. Unfortunately, she proved to be HIV positive, her husband died, she is bedridden and terminally ill. She has a baby boy and an eight year old little girl. In this case this illness has been terribly cruel.
Our other high-risk children are experiencing similar dramatic situations.
30 primary children who attend state school have received subsidies (from us) to buy uniforms and school materials. Their books do not have to be bought, they are on loan. These children also eat in the Abugida school.
The school is growing and growing.
We have been thinking that perhaps (if we ever manage to finish it) that our school diningroom could be used as a local soup kitchen to help feed children of all ages living in that area. During our meeting with the kebele we will suggest this possibility but the local authorities always have the last word.
The Birhan school in Yeka.
This school continues to have problems. The Edir failed to pay some of the workers and has delayed paying others. We have no intention of putting up with this injustice. During our trip we will be making our conditions very clear. We will not tolerate this policy of not paying or only paying partially the workers in our schools, including those in the most humblest of jobs. We have discovered that they have been threatened with dimissal if they reveal this information or complain about their lot. I assure you that when we get there, the discussion over this issue will go down in history.
We will also visit the kebele to ask if we can build another school. Barry will yet again present his designs and wealth of knowledge.
We will be taking sports equipment, track shoes and teeshirts provided by the Baleares International School for our older students in the Birhan school so that they can begin to practise sports. Next month it will be the Abugida school's turn.
Bye for now.