7 Nov 2009

04/11/09 Our child support programme in Abugida.

As you already know, we have set up a child support programme for children living in high-risk situations. This project has been organised for children who attend, or used to attend our schools.
Our initial scheme has been started in Abugida with the use of funds raised to finance school materials.
In order to spend all funds collected exclusively for our centres we are appealing to our members to consider sponsoring the keep of a child.

This project consists of finding families in Spain(or elsewhere)  willing to commit to the maintenance ( 22 euros a month) and well being of a child which , obviously would affect positively  all members of the foster family and especially any brothers or sisters the child may have.
It would be very important for a child in these circumstances to know that someone in Spain cares for them.
The family or person who decides to support one of our pupils will receive photos and information about the child after every visit that we make to the schools and if they wish can also visit the child themselves if they wish to do so.

The Abugida school will take charge of administering the money for the family involved under our strict control.

The children and families chosen are those in most need due to illness, parentless and extreme poverty.

If you are interested in supporting a child, please contact apadrinamediterranea@gmail.com and you will receive the pertinent form and all the information that you will need.
Thank you.
PS we initially turned down the idea of individual child sponsoring as it is very labour intensive and would bring us a lot of work and expenses and so take from the actual programs. This project will only cater for children in great need and will be run by one of our members in the north of Spain.

Adults in our schools in Addis Ababa

03/11/09  Information about our senior students

Our adult ( including some men) reading and writing classes are working well in both schools.

A few days ago we received some feedback about the progress of some of our former students who attended the first course in Abugida.
The first in the class, a very able and clever, elderly grandmother who achieved excellent results is delighted with her progress and now enjoys reading everything and anything that she can get her hands on.
We are overjoyed to inform you that many of the women who passed the course have moved on to other centres in order to complete their education.
Those who did not manage to pass the course last year are repeating.

1 Nov 2009

Providing food for those in need.


The recession in Spain is affecting ruthlessly many immigrants who due to the complete stand-still in the construction industry are now unemployed. They came to Mallorca looking for a better standard of living and now find themselves out of work, in a situation of complete poverty. They live in overcrowded flats, waiting for the winter to arrive and sharing the little food they have with each other.

In Calvia,  which just a few years ago held the title of the richest municipality in Europe, we now find groups of people waiting for the shops to close so that they can rake through the bins to find food so that they can survive.

To have food on the table is a basic necessity/right for every human being. We must remember, we are living in Mallorca, a paradise for some where the most absurd extravagance and wealth exists side by side with cases of extreme poverty.

We in Mediterranea, intend to do something about it. Help us.

On our own doorstep.

In our endeavour to help the poor and vulnerable in this world we discover that we do not have to go very far from our own beautiful island of Mallorca, from our very own dear Calvia, a paradise for part of the population. We discover though that there is a less fortunate part of the population, an "invisible" part. "Invisible" because nobody wants to see it.

There is a part of the population which lives in overcrowded flats. The jobs they had in construction companies or in hotels has come to an end due to the recession. They have no income, no means of returning to their country of origin (there is the possibility for some to return home voluntarily and they may even be better off  and have a better quality of life than they have found here) but many do not have that option because their families or villages are in debt for money which paid to send them here in the first place and then there are the mafias threatening others who brought them to this country.

These people have no help from social services, only certain organisations help them as much as they can.
They are not eligible for a social security doctor's services and when in need must go directly to the emergency unit in the local hospital, and when they are given a prescription often they do not have the money to buy the medicines with. We are gradually beginning to identify these groups of people living in such precarious circumstances and are trying to help them as much as possible. It's hard to believe that this is happening on our own doorstep, such poverty alongside such wealth.
On the 27/10/09 we had a meeting with Father Eugenio, an intelligent priest with a good sense of humour who is very active working to fight  all types of social problems. Together we will be setting up a "Solidarity Chemist",  in order to make available medicines and medical supplies for those immigrants who have no National Health coverage, for his church projects in Peru and for our own Mediterranea programs.
We will also be collaborating with Father Eugenio in his feeding of those in need in Calvia project.
So far one restaurant has offered us frozen food  packages for those in need in the area.

Prize given to Mediterranea

Fatima of "African Hearts" has presented us, in appreciation, the" We Are The Mothers" prize.

Although many of our Mediterranea members are mothers, we dedicate this honour to all of the mothers in the third world. These courageous mothers who raise their children in situations of great adversity. We have to understand that many of these 5 or 6 year old " mothers" are already taking on the responsibility and the care of younger brothers and sisters of, very often, a few months old. This situation prevents these "mini" mothers from having their own childhood thus cutting short their personal development and education.

Many others become mothers far too early in life due to the tradition of child brides in Subsaharian Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
We can change this situation through education.
Through education these young girls will marry later, will learn about the different types of medical attention available to them, and will discover how to care for both themselves and any babies that they may have in the future. With all of this knowledge the percentage of  child brides could drop.
Many young girls die due to child birth, premature birthing in inadequate conditions and quite simply because their body is not developed or nourished sufficiently to be childbearing. The problem is immense and for this reason Dr Hamlin (awarded the alternative nobel prize) who does tremendous work in the Addis hospital has dedicated 50 years treating obstetrics fistula.

Wherever we are working, Mediterranea always tries to lend a helping hand to all mothers in cases of need.
We try to help in Ghana collaborating with the Dangme East hospital where we have built a residence so that the mothers with hospitalised children, and the rest of their children can sleep safely. Previously, the whole family would sleep outside by the river and would be victims to crocodiles, malaria carrying mosquitoes, snakes and the local rapists.

Between our two schools in Ethiopia we have 400 children. The majority of these children just live with their mother.
In the Birhan school many of the pupils mother's  earn their living by collecting firewood. This is a very arduous job because they have to carry great quantities of wood on their back but even worse it is extremely dangerous because rape is rife while these women are working. Men lie in wait for their wood-collecting victims. Many of the children who attend our schools are children born to these raped wood-collecting mothers.

Our fervent aim is to support and fight to ensure that these children do not abandon their studies due to poverty and miserable living conditions.

In both schools we have reading and writing course for adults. We have also set up courses to teach women (many of whom suffer domestic abuse) trades and a profession in order to make them self-sufficient so that they can build a better life for themselves and their children.
We are under no false illusions and are well aware that our contribution is a tiny grain of sand in a gigantic desert of need but we will not give up, we intend to keep on supporting the Third World.


I would like to talk a little bit more about Dr Hamlin, but this time about the kind humanitarian with a good sense of humour.
During one of our trips to Ethiopia we went to the Fistula hospital in Addis Ababa with the intention of offering help. This incredible hospital provides care for women with fístula obstétrica, a term that perhaps doesn't mean anything to most of us but which in fact is the cause of terrible daily distress and leads to the social exclusion of many women in Africa. These women, many of whom are still just children with malnourished bodies, are giving birth to babies which are often too large for their already debilitated frames. After days of difficult birthing

(aggravated by female genital mutilation) a stillborn child is the result. After such a difficult birth the mother experiences a vaginal tear which can extend to the bladder and in many cases to the anus.
This tear can result in fecal and urinary  incontinence. These women are then rejected by husbands and neighbours and are classed as pestilent outcasts.
When we arrived ( without an appointment to speak to Dr Hamlin) a guard appeared and when we told him we wanted to make an appointment he asked us to follow him.
He led us along one of the pretty paths within the hospital gardens . We felt a bit dubious wondering where he was taking us until we reached a little house in the middle of the garden. He knocked on the door and to our great surprise Dr Hamlin herself opened the door.
We couldn't believe our luck. She very kindly welcomed us and invited us into her house.
She led us into her living room and told us to take a seat on her sofa.
By our feet lay her two faithful companions, her dogs.
She apologised for being unable to invite us to a drink since she had just returned from a long journey and had no provisions in the house but she was very happy to meet us, to chat to us and to answer any questions.

There we were sitting on the sofa of a legend, of a woman who has survived three different political regimes in Ethiopia, who had dedicated her life to the welfare of thousands and thousands of poor, repudiated women, who had inaugurated a special hospital, a refuge, a home, a new life , a model hospital for socially excluded women, hope. Personally, I was floating on cloud nine.

Dr Hamlin is a caring woman. She asked us where we were staying. When we told her the price and how noisy it was she said " My dears ,you are living in a brothel". (We had just realised that the night before).
The conversation continued and continued with us just listening totally dazzled by this incredible human being.

We asked her if she minded if we took some photos ( like love-sick teenagers in presence of their pop-idol) and she said " it's my pleasure".
But, just as we were taking the photograph, the door crashed open and a whirlwind rushed in. It was Dr Hamlin's personal secretary, an Australian woman called Ruth.
Ruth began to scream at us "Out! Out!" like a woman possessed. We got such a fright we dropped the camera.
At first we thought that she was shouting at the dogs but then we realised that she was shouting at us. And she tried to throw us out! Poor Dr Hamlin could only murmur a soft "So sorry".

Ruth told us that she was Dr Hamlin's"Mother Hen" and I retorted that she was more like a rottweiler and because I angrily defended our group , explaining that we had been accompanied to the house unaware of where we were going and that Dr Hamlin had greeted us exquisitely then she calmed down.
She invited us to an informal chat and a guided tour of the hospital on the following day.

The next day, we entered the hospital ( which was immaculately clean and totally odourless considering the medical problem being treated), and in the distance we could see Dr Hamlin who was already on the job, as usual, just the same as for the last 50 years.

She stopped what she was doing came up to us and asked "How are you today?" Always taking time to think of others.
We hope that the Fistula hospital's work will continue to function for as long as necessary.
Most of its help comes from Australia, the United States ( Oprah Winfrey, the famous American TV host is greatly involved in this project) and other places in the world.
I recently read Dr Hamlin's autobiography. She talks about her childhood, when she was a student, how she met her husband, of how she arrived in Ethiopia with her young son, her life in the hospital etc...
It's the first book in the English language that I have read that I just could not put down and it just confirmed what I already believed. What a great humble woman she is.
Victoria Baldo