24 Jul 2009

Marta & Mykias

No text needed.

Container for Ghana.

At last we have today sent off the shipment that will go to Barcelona, then on to Cardiff where it will be packed in a container along with the supplies donated by the Jones family for the Dangme East Hospital in Ada, Ghana.

The majority of the supplies are physiotherapy apparatus so that Jayne Coombs can set up a department for the hospital. And if all goes according to plan in the early autumn Jayne, Barry (the bulilder, have not asked him yet...) and myself (Michael Stoma)will head on down to Ada to plan some more building for the hospital and to set up the physiotherapy department.

23 Jul 2009


What a joy and what a relief it is to finally witness how well our school in Yeka is functioning.

We can now put behind us the problems and the people's "revolution" leading to the dismissal of the former Edir in this town. Our beloved Birhan school in Yeka is now on the correct path to success. The new Edir is doing a conscientious job. The parents themselves are involved in the daily running of the school. This is very important because the former Edir refused to cooperate with them.

One of the most evident examples of the direct involvement of the parents can be seen through the participation of two of the members of the families' committee in the purchase of weekly supplies necessary for the centre. We sincerely hope to reach the same spirit of commitment achieved in Albugida; happy children; content, dedicated teachers; satisfied, enthusiastic parents and ultimately an honest and resolute Edir. These elements are the key to the successful functioning of any centre.

All of the aforementioned are fighting to obtain the certificate required stating that both the school and the surrounding land is in the name of the Edir. Once this has been processed, we can commence with the construction of the new buildings for the school. The "low cost", buildings made of tin are a temporary measure while waiting for the official documentation.

The mothers and fathers of the children have offered to provide the labour.

This academic year we will continue with the nursery school and introduce a class of slightly older children who have never had the opportunity to benefit from an education.

In the future we aspire to extending the Primary school.

Half of the mothers are illiterate. They are keen to learn to read and write. There are also mothers who would love to learn a skill or trade.
We have suggested that they talk amongst themselves and that they discuss these issues with their Edir. We are open to any proposals such as sewing workshops etc.. They, themselves, know better than anyone their own needs, which type of courses would suit them most and would be of the greatest benefit to their community. The decision is theirs. They will be able to use the school installations after normal lessons.

And now a piece of great news. Before the existence of the Birhan school in Yerka the vast majority of the children resorted to begging on the streets to survive. We can now confirm that none of the children who attend this school need to beg for a living.

In the photo we can see a meeting of staff, mothers and fathers with the Edir (I can assure you that they were not sleeping but listening respectfully and attentively)
With just 20 euros a month we can feed 3 times a day, educate, dress and take care of the health of one child in either of our Ethiopian schools. In September we will have near to 450 children in these schools. Join us and to give these little ones a chance in life, just click on one of the following links: ONG/NGO.odf ONG/NGO.doc ONG/NGO.pdf and become a part of the solution.

Volunteers from the heart and the brain.

Some people's intentions may not be as good as they seem.

Recently, we, the coordinators of the Mediterranea charity, have been both pleasantly and in some cases not so pleasantly surprised.

The plan drawn up by the organizers who have been accompanying and helping Mykias, Martha and the two adults with them is functioning like clockwork and everyone is doing their best to make their "visit" as happy and comfortable as possible. They are perfectly coordinated and most importantly working as a team, which is the way it should be.

I should add that the group of volunteers who have set up the puppet theatre in both of our schools in Ethiopia have done a great job and the children are enjoying this new venture.

On a different note,as it turns out, we have come across the other side of being a volunteer. I refer to those who misconstrue the whole meaning of what a true volunteer entails, acting as they wish when they wish, totally unaware that they should be forming part of something bigger, a cog in the wheel of an organization which can only work in optimum conditions if all its members work together.

An effective charity organization can only function in this way, if not, it is bound for failure.

A famous psychiatrist, once told us that many NGOs attract some very weird people.
We have never really taken this assumption seriously in the belief that all of us, deep-down, are a little bit weird, especially those of us who put our livelihood and our life on hold every three months in the interest of others. Nor do we forget those caring people who dedicate hours of their free time so that this charity continues to work smoothly with no other motive than to help other human beings who live very, very far away and in cultures and countries totally alien to their own.

In short, we have now coincided with the aforementioned weird type of volunteer. The kind of person who brings no positive input to NGOs.

Strange characters who do their own thing, carried away by the passion of the moment, lacking the ability to think on their feet, unable to adapt to changing situations. They wish to fill every hour of the day with activities which they eventually discover that they dislike, they are beaten by the slightest reverse, are completely unaware of the consequences of their actions, of how they, thoughtlessly,can offend or harm cultures so unlike ours. Now, we are beginning to understand why so many organizations do not rely on volunteer participation on their projects.

Here in Mediterranea we have always made it clear that involvement in our schemes does not mean "I do what I do when I want to do it". Being a volunteer consists of taking on board a moral obligation, a commitment to put great effort into projects that affect vulnerable people but who continue to have the right of decision, we are there to support, advise, guide and help them, not just economically, when the need arises.

Mediterranea has employed local workers for its plans in Ethiopia and will use the same system in all of their overseas on going projects whenever necessary. Therefore, we will no longer depend on voluntary help unless we need specialists in certain areas such as in the case of Big Barry in Ghana who initially went over as a consultant and ended up digging ditches quite simply because it had to be done or the Ho orphanage would never have been provided with running water.
Big Barry is a professional but he doesn't mind getting his hands dirty, he has initiative and he determination.

From now on, we will only send volunteers qualified to do specific jobs, people like Barry, not only with a useful skill but who can take charge and GET THE JOB DONE.

NGOS exist to help the needy not to waste time on volunteers who fail to understand what the word "volunteer" actually means. And who go join projects to have an experience to explain during a dinner party on their return.

To be a volunteer is to take on a commitment with humanity. A commitment of this sort is done for the right and altruistic reasons. It can not be a passing whim or fad if we are to make this world a better place during the course of our lives.

Caja Navarra Bank

We would like to, sincerely, thank the 65 clients who are with the Caja Navarra Bank who have supported us by donating 5,210 euros to our school projects. Many thanks to you all.