18 Dec 2009


Thank you so much to all of those people who are already sponsoring 17 boys and girls in Albugida.
We still need four sponsors and are currently investigating seven other cases who will most likely also need sponsorship.

A big thank you again.



Mykias, (a different boy from the one who came to Mallorca last summer) is 12 years old. His family is very poor and he lives in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

He suffers from chronic osteomielitis. This is an inflammation and infection of the radius bone (part of the arm) which oozes constant pus and he has a deformed hand.

Osteomielitis is an illness which isn't very common in our corner of the world. Before the discovery of antibiotics  this illness resulted in a serious health problem in the western world but nowadays modern medicine has it well under control.

Yet again, you are lucky if you are born in the FIRST world because if you are born in the THIRD world you die from a lack of antibiotics.

Living in the third world, the next step for someone suffering from osteomielitis is amputation. In Mykias' case we might just be in time to avoid this usually, inevitable next step.

Mykias has been lucky. A Cuban surgeon, specialist in this area of medicine works in a hospital in Ehtiopia like hundreds of other Cuban doctors. The social conscience of many Cuban doctors living and working in Ehiopia contrasts greatly with the capitalist, class conscious mentality of the majority of the local doctors trained in Ethiopian medical schools.

This Cuban doctor would like Mykias to undergo an operation in order to solve his health problem but the hospital lacks the resources necessary to carry out the procedure. They do not even have disinfectant.

He is now appealing to Mediterranea for a special bone fusing agent for Mykias' forearm. Once the useless part of the arm is removed this will be used to fuse the remaining bone together.
Mykias will have to take antibiotics for a very long time. We can easily provide the antibiotics but the bone fusing agent is much more complicated because it is so expensive. We have no intention of giving up because this material is often used in our society, it is used once and then thrown away, like so many other medical materials that could be put to good use in poorer parts of the world.

In the rich part of the world we use and throw. In the poor part of the world they have no choice, they do without.

17 Dec 2009


Hello, dear members of Mediterranea.
Having just returned from Ethiopia, I would like to tell our story starting with the last day of our visit.

I don't know if you are already aware that Ethiopia is the country with the most international and local non-governmental organisations in the world.
Within these organisations there are all sorts of activities taking place of both a legal and illegal nature. There are those which do a marvellous job, those who use the organisation as a covert, illegal operation, those who turn a blind eye, take advantage, exploit and steal from their employees. Unfortunately, there exists an abundance of the latter. Theft and deceit are very common. When you do not give in and you stand up to them then their revenge is unrelenting, lasting for years because they never forget.
As you know our former representative was caught red-handed and we dismissed him. We also managed to remove the Edir of Yekas' president from his post for theft.
Both of these incidents took place at the beginning of this year 2009.

They swore vengeance and I imagined that their revenge would take the form of some sort of street brawl.
It is a well known saying in Ethiopia: It's easy to suffer "an accident." But their revenge tactic was unexpected.
Adugna Tesfaye Woldekirkos and Tadesse Mengesha (former representative and the Edir's former president) have made an official complaint about our organisation to the Ministery of Justice, accusing us of using our school project as a covert operation in trafficking with children.

Both of our accusers know that this is an issue of great concern to the Ethiopian authorities and is being dealt with conscientiously because the trafficking of children is rife both in and outside of this country.
We work with children.We do our absolute utmost to ensure that our children either stay with their family or if this is impossible that they are never left alone or abandoned to their luck.
We educate, feed them and support the most vulnerable families. We finance their keep with foster parents when there are no living relatives.
These mafia types must feel very happy with themselves. Their revenge plan was set in motion.
I was arrested and accompanied to the Federal prison where I was questioned by the National Security Police.

On the last day of our stay, we made our way to the school to meet the parents and children. There were two secret police officers waiting for me with an order of arrest in my name and stating the reason for the arrest.

The situation was so surreal that I was convinced that I was involved in a Spanish Candid Camera type programme, or "pranked" as they call it in America. Unfortunately, it was NO joke!
When I realised that this was serious stuff, I attempted to call the Spanish Embassy but the secret police would not permit me to make any calls. On the way to the police station, I managed to pass my mobile to my daughter with the telephone number of the Spanish Embassy which luckily I had on me.
On arrival at the prison, they allowed Zerihun (our present representative) to accompany me as I was led to interrogation room number 72.
A long interrogation by three officers about the accusation began.
Zerihun explained to the officers exactly how our organisation functions.
He explained that we support, finance and encourage but make none of the vital decisions relating to the school.
He informed them that we are not officially registered (up to now, it has not been a priority and the Edirs know this), it is legal to work as we do without registering officially as long as you are working directly and under the authority of the Edir.

Zerihun explained everything very clearly.
We provide three meals a day for almost 400 children.
At the moment we provide employment for 44 people. The school is growing and therefore it will soon be necessary to provide paid employment for more Ethiopians.
We provide reading and writing lessons for 130 adults.
We have been helping families in need so that they do not have to give up their children to institutions or worse due to poverty.
We provide phones for the needy so that they can mantain contact with their own Edir.
This stage of the questioning took two hours. The policeman didn't stop for lunch in order to complete the investigation as soon as possible.
Then it was my turn.
I told them that I could imagine who my accusers were, their names and why they had decided to falsely report me to the police.
All of my statement was hand-written by a policeman on carbon copy. Time passed by slowly and I really did not know how long or where all of this procedure was leading.
They asked me for my grandmother's name, my ethnic origin, my religion and where I was born.
When I said I was born in Barcelona, one of them said," OK, let's prove it."
One of the office workers took a picture of Fabregas out of his desk drawer as if it was a photo of a member of his family and asked me "Who is this"?

I am not a football fan, so I hadn't got a clue. I told him I didn't know.
He couldn't believe that I was Spanish, from Barcelona and not know who Fabregas is. He was very disappointed in me.
The policeman kept writing and writing...
Meanwhile, there were constant phone-calls from people asking about me and other "supporters"(pardon the pun) were turning up at the police station.
Ato Tamarit from the Abugida school stormed in from Akaki.
The chief of all of the kebeles of Akaki Kalti called to speak to the police. There were calls from the Birhan school, the accountant, the workers, the present Edir's assistants, the accountant turned up at the police-station, the priest calls.
Much later, I discover that the families and the employees from the Yeka school had intended to gather en masse outside the prison. Fortunately, they were advised not to do so because the repercussions could have been disastrous for them where as I am just a foreigner passing through. I appreciate immensely their solidarity.
After a series of never-ending hours, I was "asked" to sign innumerable papers.
I asked Zerihun to read them all because I didn't want to sign anything without knowing what it was but it became a frantic, impossible task.
The policeman was hungry (I pretended to be faint with hunger too in order to try and speed up the process) but the policeman would listen to no excuses and said "too bad, I'm also hungry and this has to be done."
Zerihun explains that the last part is the important part because it states that I am innocent of all charges.

Zerihun asked who had reported me and the policeman said that I knew fine well who our accusers were. Everything fell into place. Now, the Yeka thieves were not only in trouble with the police for theft but now they were in real, deep, more serious trouble for false testimony.
While we were in the interrogation room, my daughter called the embassy to tell them "my mother has been arrested."
The Spanish consul could not be located but his representatives came immediately to the prison. The police not only refused to allow them to enter but also confiscated their mobile phones.

When we left the Federal prison Zerihun told me that we had been very, very fortunate because every person who enters that prison has to spend at least one night there until their case is clarified.
I suppose that this was my accusers intention. They knew that the accusation wouldn't stick but their revenge plan consisted of me having to spend a night in a cell.
Looks like they are the ones who are going to spend at least one night in jail.
This morning, I received an email from Tadesse Mengesha, the former president of the Edir of Yeka.
This is the message he sent me.
"The whistle is blown and the game has started, many more goals to be scored yet!!!! HAhahahahaha........!"

Football madness...yet again!
The police will, of course, receive a copy of this message.
From this page, I send my most profound thanks to Zerihun without whom there might have been a very different outcome. Thank you so much.

15 Dec 2009

The spirit of goodwill


The spirit of goodwill in Abugida has reached the Birhan school.

To our great joy, we can inform you that the tremendous spirit of goodwill experienced in Abugida has now touched the Birhan school.
The older teachers retired at the beginning of this academic year and have given way to the new, highly motivated young generation of teachers who are excited, active and "raring to go", singing, dancing and playing with the children.

The generation gap has been closed, replacing old-school teaching through bullying and punishment ( not only the children but also the younger staff, a situation we witnessed during our visits, creating an oppressive atmosphere) and has been replaced by the same spirit of happiness felt in Abugida. The older staff now work in the evenings on our adult reading and writing initiatives.
Both parts are benefitting from this change and the older generation of staff are much more content being in charge of the adult education.

We had a wonderful reception, singing, dancing from children and staff. The teachers were beautifully turned out in traditional dress and looked a treat.
This year the children wear the same uniform as the pupils in Albugida.
After the ceremony we had a meeting with the headmistress.
This lady had replaced the former headteacher and at that moment we still did not know why.
We spoke on an individual basis with all of the teachers who informed us that it was a clear case of nepotism. The new headteacher is a member of the Edir's family. They told us that she is a lovely lady but unqualified for the job and lacking the experience recquired.
We decided to call all of the teachers to vote for who they considered to be the best qualified for the position but that it would be a secret ballot.
They were all keen to vote but became frightened of how the Edir would react when the result vote supported Genet, a membr of the teaching staff.
We told them not to worry and that we would deal with everything. We would have a meeting with the Edir.

We organised the meeting with the Edir and at first there was a lot of tension in the air but through clear, honest talking we managed to bring the Edir around to our way of thinking. At the end of the day , our aims are the same and both sides are genuinely concerned about the welfare of the boys and girls who attend the centre and of course the future of the Birhan school.

The Edir is struggling to obtain official accreditation for the school. Bureaucrocy is slow and complicated in this country.

Despite all of these difficulties the school is flourishing and looking beautifully decorated thanks to the teachers and pupils.
Most importantly, the children are very happy.
Personal files are being drawn up about every individual child including their family background and health.
Thanks to these files we are beginning to identify certain health problems which are being addressed.
The same as in Abugida,the teachers in Birhan will be attending a 3 month computer course.

The reading and writing course in Birhan is a great success.

We are financing one of these groups and the Kebele is using our instalations for two other reading and writing groups.

Barry has completed a construction project for when the school finally receives accreditation. The estimate for this buliding works out to 30,000 euros.

Unfortunately, our attempts to have a meeting with the parents of our schoolchildren was frustrated by the intervention of some mafia-type characters who are trying to upset all of our plans and the future of the families and children in our care.

We hope that the authorities will help us with this matter and that the culprits will be dealt with.

Photos:The Romeos and Juliets of the school, some of the staff,children, Genet, the new headteacher, some dancing, our welcome party.

13 Dec 2009



We would like to express our support and distress about the kidnapping by Al Queda of the Spanish volunteers while working for the organisation Accio.
We wish to transmit our support and solidarity to the three kidnapped volunteers, their loved ones  and friends.
We are extremely concerned to hear that they are in the hands of the hardline faction of Al Queda in the Magreb.
We hope and we pray that this situation will be solved pacifically and that they will soon be back home.
They only went there to help those who have so little and need so much help.

Our two year old children


For the first time ever we have two year old children in our school. There are 20 two year olds in our Abugida centre.
Both their psychomotor activity and their physical development are well below their age.

All of the children who are offered a place in the Abugida school have been given a certificate by the Kebele which confirms their poverty status. All of these children started in September at the beginning of the academic year and as yet it is too early to give much information as to their progress.

In Ethiopia thre are practically no nursery schools except for the very few fee-paying centres in Addis.
Since there are next to no schools this also means that there are extremely few trained teachers for this age group.
Therefore the teachers we have already, do their best to work effectively with the two year olds.

Our priorities for the 2 year olds are the following.

Food: We provide them with extra milk and protein.
Health:Vaccinations and healthcare for all.
Communication skills: After food and health, these children will need help to enable them to survive in society.

At the moment the two year olds are sharing space ( separated by a partition) with the three year olds until their classroom (currently being built) is completed.
The new classrooms for the two and three year olds will be spacious, have plenty of natural light and bathrooms.

Photos: Ato Tamirat, president to the Edir and the Abugida's school's administrator. The class of two year olds.

Mata de Jonc School

The Mata de Jonc school in Palma this week organised a campaign to collect food for Mediterranea to distribute amongst those in need in Mallorca. We calculate that they accumulated just over 200kg which will be distributed this coming week.

We hope other schools will join in the program. If we could get 5 schools encouraging students to bring one food unit (any of the following: 1kg of rice, 1L.milk, 1L oil, 1kg of pasta, sugar, flour, couscous, tinned food, biscuits etc) one day a month we could probably double the number of people we feed at no great cost to all those involved. One kg of rice costs as little as 0.75€.

If you have children at school, please feel free to ask your school to collaborate.

At present we are providing food for approximately 750 meals a day. In the last month we have delivered neat to 4 tones of food in Mallorca.

With your help we can do a lot more.