28 Dec 2010

A Small Light at the End of the Tunnel


This Christmas we received some good news: at last it seems that we have found a substitute mother for a child at Abugida who is on the point of becoming orphaned.  This little boy of six only has his mother and she, tragically is gravely ill having AIDS and terminal breast cancer.

The future of a child in Ethiopia and particularly of this age is very uncertain if left alone.  The most likely outcome being that he would increase by one the number of children living in the streets.  From one day to the next passing from the effective warmth of his home and the security of the school to a most horrible scenario.

We have been trying for a long time to find a family from Abugida who in exchange for a monthly payment would agree to be the child’s substitute family.  But if they don’t know the children from birth they won’t accept them, not even with the monthly payment.  This situation has been causing us anguish since shortly after starting with Abugida.

Now there is a small light at the end of the tunnel with this first lady, who has agreed to become a substitute mother.  The procedure that we have decided on for such cases is as follows: when the mother is very ill the substitute mother starts to care for her and take charge of the child, washing the clothes, cooking and accompanying the child to school.  The child and the mother slowly become accustomed to the new mother.  In this way we believe that it is less painful for the mother and beneficial for the child who gradually becomes accustomed to the new mother figure.

Up until now the sponsored children who live with adoptive families are children who have lived with these families since they were very small.  This will be the first child to join a family at a more advanced age.  We hope that it will go well.  To these substitute mothers that will have charge of a child without having known them since very young we shall pay 500 birrs a month.  Bearing in mind that the child will have breakfast, lunch and tea at the school from Monday to Friday we believe that this amount will be sufficient and will allow them to start their life together.

Our level of involvement in Abugida means that we know all of the cases and all of the problems that arise.  What was a school with x children has been converted into a school where every mother, father, grandparent is known and of course each boy and girl, boys and girls each one of which is a treasure and a challenge for a better life.

It is a big responsibility that we have taken on, a big commitment.  It would be much easier for us, emotionally speaking if Abugida had continued being a school of x children…but this is what happens when you get to know the people.

24 Dec 2010

Sometimes it just can't be.


We met Z four years ago when we first started in Abugida.  She is a girl who had everything but the illness that killed her husband and that is slowly killing her has radically changed her life.  She had to return to Akaki to live with her family who, because of her illness, discriminated against her and made her live in the garden.

Z is the mother of E, a precious little girl, who is intelligent, sweet and mature beyond her years.  E was one of our first children in Abugida and is now at Fitawrari school.

After some time Z left her family and started a life of prostitution, prostituting herself for insignificant amounts of money.  Once a month she returned to the school to see her daughter.  Mother and daughter adore each other.

We offered Z a position in Abugida and she worked with us for over four years.  It was a hard fight to win her that position, as they didn’t want anyone who was HIV+ working there, she was the first.  During her time at the school she had her ups and downs including a mental breakdown for which she took medication.  During our last trip to the school she told us that she would like to continue with her studies.  We personally took charge of her studies, we wanted with all our hearts that she would continue moving forward and build a new life.

But Z left her studies, she left Abugida without saying a word and we don’t know where she is now.  Luckily E is staying with her aunt. As Z will not be able to return to work in Abugida we want to arrange a sponsorship to support her daughter.

E is one of four children that we have for sponsorship.  The others have all lived similarly sad stories and are on the border of survival.  The sponsorships can bring about a very important change in the life of these children.  They are the poorest of the poor.  To sponsor is to give life, a new life to a child that has nothing.  It is also a commitment to the child and to the family that will look after the child.

If you would like to sponsor one of the four children then please write to us at apadrinamediterranea@gmail.com

There are currently 44 children sponsored through Mediterranea.

18 Dec 2010

The Miracle of Glasses

We would like to introduce you to Derartu (on the left of the photo) and Hannaniya (on the right) who are students of the Akaki Mengist Public School.  They, together with other children and teenagers attend the two classes provided for those with sensory and psychological disabilities.
Deratu and Hannaniya are both deaf.  In addition Deratu has myopia of 11.5 gradation, which means that he can see practically nothing and is considered blind, deaf and blind.  Now he can see!!  Thanks to some simple glasses, that are very normal here but in Ethiopia are considered a true luxury.  What’s more these glasses are good looking and have graduating lenses.
Hannaniya does not have such severe myopia but he cannot see very well either.  Being deaf it’s very important for him that he makes the most of his vision, now with the help of his new glasses he can.  These glasses have come about thanks to the Abay Association that paid for them and thanks to Paco, a lovely person, who has taken them personally to the school.   Thank you very much Abay.

Next Friday, Dr Abonesh will visit the two blind children in the school who have congenital cataracts.  She is the very best specialist we were able to find and will assess if they are operable.  The nine deaf boys and girls also have a visit on Friday, from the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist.  He will see three children each Friday for the next three weeks. 

16 Dec 2010

Celebration at Fitawrari Public School



The celebration was attended by the leaders of many of Akaki Kaliti's most important organisations: the Kebeles, the city council and the heads of all the primary schools.  They came to see and better understand the schools project for feeding the children.  This is the primary school where Mediterranea constructed a dining room and kitchen and serves breakfast to all the 160 pre-school children and breakfast, lunch and tea to the 103 orphans who attend the school.

The dignitaries also inaugurated the Information Technology Centre which was equipped with computers donated and purchased by Mediterranea.

They then proceeded to deliver uniforms bought with money provided by Mediterranea.  The donation of 24000 birrs (1092 Euros) served to purchase the uniforms and also the school material for the current year.

The authorities and school directors, in addition to visiting the dining room and kitchen, also had the chance to see the entrance road, new toilets and playground, all of which were paid for and constructed by Mediterranea.

The saddest part of this happy day was saying goodbye to the two assistant directors of the school.  One of who was taking up the position as director of another school and the other as supervisor for all of the primary schools in Akaki.

11 Dec 2010

This Christmas you can Help Us to make 2011 a better year for many!!

Mediterranea Project: Three King's Day 500!

Mediterranea's New Members 
Dear Members & Volunteers;

I hope you would agree that our Mediterranea family have achieved much in just a very few years. Working in five continents with projects as diverse as: providing endoscopes to Cuba; medicine to Congo; supporting the homeless of Mallorca; constructing and supporting schools in Ethiopia; supplying a tractor to an orphanage in Ghana; bringing children from Africa to Son Dureta Hospital for specialist operations; food packs to Mali and Senegalese citizens in Mallorca... the list, as you know, is very long.

Through the efforts of our volunteers and the donations of our members we have treated illnesses, comforted the dying, fed the hungry, clothed, sheltered and educated hundreds of children, saved lives, put smiles on small faces, joy in hearts and given hope where there was none.

In this time we have learned much, established good contacts and built a reputation for being a humanitarian organization that follows through and delivers on our promises. I feel that we are now at a stage, with the experience we have gained and expertise we have acquired, that we can take on more projects and bring support, comfort and hope to even more who are in need.

In order to do this we need to significantly grow our membership. For this reason I am initiating Three King's Day 500!!! I would like us to take our membership to 500 by King's Day (6 Jan 2011). An ambitious goal... yes... but one I'm sure we can achieve.

To succeed in this we will need the commitment and help of every one of our existing members. Each one of us knows well what we have achieved at Mediterranea. Each one of us knows the incredible value of €10 or €20 (approx. $13 or $26) spent in the third world. Each one of us knows how our direct and unencumbered way of working quickly reaches the heart of the problem. Each one of us has our own circle of friends and acquaintances. Each one of us is in the best position to explain what we do and what we can achieve.

I would ask you therefore, over these next few weeks of Christmas and New Year, this time of contemplation and giving, to take the opportunity to speak with friends, tell them what we do and ask them to join us. I'm sure you'd agree that €10 ($13) a month is very little to ask in return for the joy and hope it can bring. If each of us can enlist at least one new member - or even 3 or 4 new members - over this period then we will achieve our goal of 500 members by Three King's Day.

Membership forms can be downloaded and additional information about this newest Three Kings Day 500 Project can be found on these websites:
www.MediterraneaHelps.org OR www.MediterraneaNGO.org

As a small, close and giving community we have achieved an incredible amount in a very short time. We have changed the lives of thousands of people. Allow us, through this project, to bring help and hope and life to many many more.

Michael Stoma
Giving, gives meaning... and life.
Help Us Give Help

To assist with this project I have included some points below that you might find helpful, entitled "Why Mediterranea?" and have given a few ideas for increasing our membership. At the very end I have attached a link to get to our membership form which new members will need to fill in and return to us. I have added a new box "How did you hear about Mediterranea ?.........." where your friends can enter your name if they wish. 

Why Mediterranea? 
  • Direct Help - we ensure that all money given, 100% reaches and supports our projects directly. We have no staff, no salaries, we run on volunteer power alone. Our volunteers fund themselves and their travel expenses wherever they travel.
  • Community based and supported - Mediterranea is centred on Michael and Victoria Stoma's surgery in Portals Nous, Mallorca. We are a small, personal, community organization with members supporting and helping us from mainland Spain and all over the world.
  • Personal Feedback - because we are small we are able to give very personal reports on the work we are doing. In our emails and on our blogs you can read personal accounts of visits, feedback and successes. You can see photos and hear directly from the people we are supporting. You can see directly how your support and donations are making huge differences to peoples lives.
  • Focused and effective - we are an NGO and because we have no government support we have no constraints or red tape. We are able to act quickly and effectively, going to the heart of the problem. We take on small and medium sized projects, focus our efforts and resources and deliver on our promises.
  • €20 a month ($26) - is all it costs to feed, clothe, educate and protect a child in our care.
How can we increase our membership? 
  • Whenever you can, it is best to meet face to face with friends and acquaintances to tell them about what we do and to ask for their support.
  • Christmas is a good time to make contact with old friends. Perhaps while catching up with them on email you could tell them about Mediterranea and ask for their support. €10 ($13) is little for us but makes a huge impact in the third world.
  • Perhaps give your child or children a membership to Mediterranea as a gift. In this way, introduce them early in their lives to the concept of giving. Allow them to see, nearly firsthand, how others less fortunate live and can be helped. They will receive regular emails and links to our blogs, where they can keep up to date with what we are achieving. They can of course volunteer and help directly, we already have many children and teenagers helping.

Ways to Help

Contact us at Mediterranea via email at anytime:mediterranea.ong@gmail.com
The Mediterranea Organization is based in Portals Nous in Mallorca, Spain. If you wish to collaborate and help support our non-governmental, non-profit organization, volunteer only organization, we offer our download-able form as a Word document here (just click below):

Mediterranea Membership Form
Mediterranea Support & Membership Form (click to download)

Or you can collaborate with us using PayPal 
(note: currently info is in Spanish):
 

The teams that form Mediterranea are comprised of volunteers. All the money we get goes directly to the projects. Website enhancements, all online tools and forms, and special emails (such as this newly formatted one seen here) is given to Mediterranea free of charge. We thank all of those who help us give help!

Our Calendars Have Arrived !





Happy December !!

The Mediterranea calendars have arrived !!

They are beautiful calendars that will surprise you.
They show our hard work over the past few years.
They show our feelings.
They show our close relationship with Ethiopia.
They show our future projects.
They show 12 months full of hope.

We wish you a very Happy 2011...with our calendar on your wall, of course.

Calendars cost only 5 Euros each

HELP US TO ACHIEVE A DREAM


We hope that the donations received from the sale of the calendars will allow us to construct and maintain a school for deaf and blind children and teenagers in Ethiopia.


It is a very important project, these children and teenagers do not have the opportunity to live a life with dignity, in fact they live confined, without diagnosis, medical attention or adequate stimulation.


We want to open classrooms for children aged 3 to 12 and workshops where the teenagers can learn a trade.  Also we believe that some will be able to partially recover their vision or hearing with proper medical assistance.


If you would like to order some calendars please send your name, address and telephone number to us at :
apadrinamediterranea@gmail.com and we shall quickly send you by 'blue mail' (where you pay postage on arrival) all the calendars you need, to sell or to give as presents.  The postage costs vary depending on the volume.  The more you request the cheaper will be the postage per calendar.

Remembering Part 2


We are going to register ourselves as an NGO (non government organisation) in Ethiopia…and so start a new stage for Mediterranea in that country, one that we hope will go very well.

Here we continue our recollections of our first steps in the land of the Queen of Sheba…

We first discovered Abugida School in 2007.  At this time we had chosen a lady as our first representative in the country.  We decided on her, thinking that a woman would be best suited for the position, perhaps having more social sensitivity in dealing with women and children…

Well in the case of this woman none of this turned out to be true.  The best that could be said for her was that she must have been a direct descendent of Elizabeth Bathory, the bloodthirsty countess of Transylvania.

The lady in question had lived many years in the US and told us that she had returned to her country to help her people and that she had founded a small NGO.  Our second ‘marvellous’ experience at the hands of local NGO’s…

Abugida was at that time a small and ruined school that was not able to pay its teachers.  It had 40 children but no way of supporting itself.  It had been constructed by a Dutch NGO that had subsequently left the country and had abandoned the school to its own luck.

Here our intrepid representative had founded her own fiefdom: dedicating herself to threatening and blackmailing all who didn’t comply with her aims and demands.  From us she stole some money, which luckily was less than it could have been as we discovered it quickly.  Meanwhile she was bringing people from the US (who she attracted through her contacts) to Abugida to see the school and the children and of course to relieve them of their money, money that she kept, naturally.

Since then only members who contribute directly to the school are allowed to visit Abugida.

When we sacked her she didn’t take it very well and we experienced scenes like the smashing of the windows of our car by a woman sent by her.  Her intent over the years was to sink Abugida and with her started the threats such as “it doesn’t matter how long it takes but I will send someone who will cause you a lot of harm, in Ethiopia it is very easy to have an accident” etc etc. It only remained for her to say, “You are an easy white target”.

This dearly loved tradition of threats continued with our next representative.
But that’s another story… 

5 Dec 2010

Volunteer Nurse for Abugida


If you are a qualified nurse, have pediatrics experience and like children. If you can speak English, enjoy planning, organising and putting the house in order.  If you would like to go to Abugida school in Akaki Kaliti, Ethiopia as a volunteer to assess the school nurse in her daily duties.  Then please send your cv to:

mediterranea.ong@gmail.com

It is essential that you are or become a member of Mediterranea.  We can offer
free board and lodging at the school.

The Vegetable Garden



Greetings Mediterranea from our vegetable plot.

We are delighted to publish this post from our school in Akaki, Ethiopia because these young men have turned themselves into our favourites, into our teacher’s pets!! 

They are extremely enthusiastic and according to their teachers arrive much earlier than usual to work in our new vegetable garden.  It is work that they seem to love.  What’s more they are successfully growing lettuces, cabbages, carrots and beetroots.




Anyway, here they are proudly posing while hard at work.  Mubarak, who is the leader of the team, is in the centre.  

Once they have gained some more experience they will be able to take on the plot on the other side of the school, which is much bigger.  

Before the creation of this vegetable garden the boys and girls who work in the garden passed their time in the classroom doing very little.




Because of this success we are now trying to expand this ‘Vegetable Garden Project’ to other schools in Akaki. 


PS The date showing on the photos is incorrect, they were taken just a few days ago.

4 Dec 2010

The Broom

Here is the story of something that happened very recently in Ethiopia, at Fitawrari school in Akaki, where there happened to be staying a volunteer from Mediterranea.
A little 8 year old girl had the misfortune to fall from the top step of the school (a total of 5 steps) while holding a broom. Horribly, the handle of the broom remained vertical as she feel and hit the ground. It sunk deep into her head. The girl started to bleed profusely and everyone was very frightened. It seemed that no one knew what to do. Some even began running from the scene.

Our Mediterranea volunteer, who had previously been a volunteer at the Order of the Sisters of Mother Theresa of Calcutta in Addis Ababa where amongst other things she had assisted with the treatment of day patients, put on her gloves, that she always carries in her pocket, and attended the little girl. She cleaned away the blood in order to see the wound, using the only thing available…cotton make-up pads. She blocked the gash in the girls scalp. After a little time, the bleeding slowed and she was able to inspect the wound. As the gash was indeed deep she arranged for the girl to be taken to hospital. At the hospital they approached our volunteer and asked her what she wanted, she said ‘a doctor’.

Because our Mediterranea volunteer does not belong to any branch of the medical profession, she is a law student and is our eldest daughter.

1 Dec 2010

Fighting Against the Stigma of HIV & AIDS


UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and Aids, has a mission. Mediterranea participates in that mission. That mission is stop the discrimination and devaluation of people who live and are associated with HIV and AIDS.
“Discrimination”, for us, refers to the unjust and hostile treatment of people who have or are perceived to have an immune problem related to HIV.  It’s important to observe that even when a person feels a certain stigma towards another, they can still choose to not behave or act in a way that is unjust or discriminatory.
In Ethiopia, AIDS tests are free, as are the antiretroviral medicines necessary to treat the disease.  Babies and pregnant women who have tested HIV+ are given preventative medicines.  That’s not to say that all those affected are being treated, just those who have access to the medical services.  However the country is certainly making progress against the disease.
Parallel to these advances though is the stigma of HIV, which is very much apparent in Ethiopian society.  In Abugida, we have given preference to HIV+ children and they live together with HIV- children without any problems.  This has been achieved simply because the parents of unaffected children want their children to go to Abugida and they know of our selection criteria.  Most schools don’t accept HIV+ children but in Abugida the school is for everyone and everyone must live together.  The good food, care and attention that the children receive is a big attraction for the parents and, in the end, all the children live together happily.
Regrettably the same cannot be said for adults.  Here we have been pioneers by employing HIV+ adults at Abugida.  Each day, however, we are confronted with the prejudices of some of the local leaders.  They think that HIV+ women are not suitable to care for children.  They believe that such women should not work in the kitchen.  Unfortunately it seems to do little good arguing that for an HIV+ woman to be of risk to the children she would first have to cut herself, then find a knife and cut a child and then mix their blood together.
We continue fighting the discrimination that exists towards HIV+ people and do this in the area where we have influence, in the Abugida school.  We continue to emphasize that being HIV+ is a condition only of interest to those infected not to the whole community.  We are fighting so that people are not obliged to have an HIV test when applying for a job, where they would be discriminated against if the test showed positive.
There are 1,500,000 people in Ethiopia who are HIV+ and this is only the tip of the iceberg as the number represents only those who have taken the test.  1 in 7 residents of Addis Ababa are HIV+.  Do they expect all these people to live off charity, not to be allowed to work and to be condemned to the margins of society and into prostitution?
We continue fighting the fight but it is not easy.  The option we have taken at Mediterranea is to stand firm and not to permit any sort of discrimination in the area that we influence.  We are winning battles but the war is far from won.

Remembering Part 1

In the next few days it will be 4 years since we took our first steps in Ethiopia. At that time we had already been working 7 years as an NGO with experience in other countries, but in Ethiopia we were new.

In November 2006 we contacted a local NGO whose president we had met on an earlier, private trip. This man took us to see an empty orphanage in the city of Nazret with the intention that we would help. It was an orphanage with more dust than the Sahara desert and equally as uninhabited…although he insisted that the children were away for the weekend.

We had almost given up on him when he took us to a very small and humble school operating out of a container in the neighbourhood of Mekanissa, Addis Ababa. He told us that it was a school for Eritrean refugee children and Ethiopian children from a very poor area and that his NGO was supporting it. The school and the children touched us deeply and our first thought was to construct a decent school for these children. We visited the school various times bringing things for the children, each time noticing that the teachers seemed more distant. Until, on the last day, they wouldn’t even let us in, they were very angry with the president of the NGO. Since we were new to the country and the country had touched us deeply, we didn’t catch on at the time that this man was using this school as bait for his own interests.

So we were sent packing still holding the 500 sweets and 300 packs of biscuits that we had brought for the children. To have distributed these in the street could have provoked fighting so we decided to take them to some nuns that we knew. The nuns, who are very practical, were in need of much more basic things than sweets and biscuits. They didn’t say anything but it was easy to deduce. And so, feeling rather ridiculous, we left.

The president of the NGO told us, when we were back in Spain, that the teachers we angry because they hadn’t been paid for months. And we, as the novices we were, naively sent him from Spain money for all the salaries that he told us were outstanding, so that he could pay them. Some days after we sent the money we asked him, “Have you paid the teachers?” to which he replied “No, and I’m not going to, but if you want I can send you a false invoice.”

This was our baptism as an NGO in Ethiopia.

To be continued…

23 Nov 2010

Food for those in need in Palmanova



Students from the Baleares International College (Mallorca) donated around 200kg of food for us to distribute amongst people in need in the Palmanova area.
The food was taken to the distribution point today and will be handed out this week.


I was informed the students intend to do this on a regular basis. They clearly set an example for other students.

18 Nov 2010

In my stories the princesses…


In my stories the princesses…


There are not twenty mattresses,
Neither a pea nor a castle;
They sleep on the earth floor;
In rooms made of paper walls.

In my stories the princesses
Are born with red blood,
Are dressed in rags,
Have skin that shines like satin.

The princesses of my stories
Don’t eat every day,
But show a happiness
That overwhelms you.

The princesses of my stories
Wear veils and crowns;
They are in truth my princesses,
You know it and I know it.

The stories of my princesses
That I’ll tell you if you’ll allow:

Say that they live far away,
In a country that you can not see;
But it is close, believe me,
If you choose to SEE.
If you want to be their fairy,
You only have to believe.

I promise you a thousand and one stories
Of princesses with skin of satin,
For you to dream of every night,
Imagining what their lives CAN BE.



Sami and a Dream


A Center for the Disabled in Ethiopia
The person on the right of the photo is Sami.

Sami is the representative of Education for the Akaki Kaliti kebele (neighbourhood) in Ethiopia. Sami is very intelligent, with an enviably quick mind. Sami is totally blind.

In his youth he was the only blind boy in the area to attend a state school. One that offered him the possibility to use Braille, a system for reading and writing by touch, designed specifically for blind people. Although Braille is available in Amharic (the language of this region), very few blind Ethiopians get to use it  as there is no money to make it available for them.

As you may know, we have become involved in providing support to the disabled of Akaki, starting by supporting disabled children and adolescents who attend the Akaki Mengist school in Addis. These children and adolescents of both sexes, who are physically disabled, blind or deaf, have the use of two classrooms.
So far we have sent 12 pairs of crutches (some for infants) a wheelchair, as well as educational material and a foosball table set.

Additionally, we have bought 20 sign language manuals in Amharic, for the deaf. We want to help more of the disabled of Akaki and for this reason have offered to buy Amharic Braille for the blind children of the area, so that they can attend the state school.
Today we are going to talk of a dream. Normally in Mediterranea we speak of realities, that is to say, when we speak of a project it’s because we have raised the funds necessary to action it. But this is a Big Dream…to provide a center where the disabled of Akaki can come to work. Having a room for physiotherapy and various professional workshops for the disabled.
It is estimated that some 6% of Ethiopians are disabled. Their only means of survival…begging. Their lives are ones of intolerable poverty and marginalization. They are people abandoned to their luck and practically without any possibility of personal development or integration into their society.

But here we have Sami, to remind us that there can be light in the darkness. And that with your help we can put into reality our Big Dream to help more.

16 Nov 2010

Welcome on board!

A big thank you to the 6 new people to sign on as members of Mediterranea in the past week. Particularly heart warming is the fact that 5 of these people do not know us physically, they read about Mediterranea's work on the web and have decided to join and support our efforts.
You boost our energy levels.
Michael

5 Nov 2010

CHRISTMAS FAIR, PUERTO PORTALS, Mallorca

CHRISTMAS FAIR, PUERTO PORTALS , SUNDAY 5TH DECEMBER as from 11 a.m on the main "Bulevar"  next to Capuccino.  What better place to start the Christmas festivities than the Christmas Fair in Puerto Portals .
Every year Calvia Town Hall stages  the Christmas Fair/ Feria de Navidad where local charities and businesses can apply for a stall to sell their wares ....the only rule is that they must keep to the yuletide theme!  You can expect mulled wine, christmas cakes, plus lots of ideas for christmas presents.

We  have just six weeks to arrange the Xmas stall for  MEDITERRANEA N.G.O.  This is always a really colourful event.....lots of  Christmas atmosphere !. There will be music , Xmas goodies and Santa !  In order to raise money for the cause we need goods to sell on the stall .  Do you have anything tucked away that you wish to donate gifts, clothes (new/nearly new) . We are also going to have a Santa lucky dip for the children.  If you have anything, or if you would like to help out,  we would love to hear from you please .

Contact Zara Dickerson Tel 619819246 caitlinkeely@yahoo.co.uk
or
Jackie Evans Tel 609 421073 jackie@mallorcasolutions.com

20 Oct 2010

Wonderful volunteers


In relation to the past turbulent times in Abugida, from here we want to publicly thank our volunteers of this summer: Maria, Alejandra and Eduardo.
Maria and Alejandra were there in July and Eduardo in August.

Without Maria and Alejandra, the kindergarden in Abugida would not have been able to be what it is.
This is too short a phrase to explain the true meaning of their work. They dedicated themselves completely and fought against the preconceived ideas, that even if not meant maliciously, would have led to a disaster.

They managed to create a happy and functional kindergarden, where the children eat, are stimulated and enjoy themselves, and where the caretakers happily care for them.

Through their work the mothers – humble women, as all in the school- now have a say in the kindergarden. In the beginning they did not even dare speak to the caretakers. Now they have meetings with them and a mutual exchange is held about any aspect concerning their child.

Maria confronted the bills/expences issue, bravely confronting/debating with the administrator and the grocer. A rather complicated task.

And, they even painted the kindergarden façade with fun motifs!

Is there something these girls cannot do?

Eduardo arrived in August, straight into a moment of great tension. What a difficult time to arrive, what an entry into the Ethiopian reality. Not even 50 masters or courses in cooperation prepare one for what he experienced.
He too fought for Abugida and showed full dedication. He proceeded with the tedious and tiresome bills/accounts issue.
Eduardo managed to set forth important improvements in the prices accepted for the market purchases and making changes in the purchasing team.
He lived the intense days of the account modifications (from here this may seem as a simple issue, but there it turned into a titanic battle) and the tempestuous meetings between the Kebele, the Edir and the school.

We know he suffered greatly as he is a very sensitive man, but in the end, thanks to his efforts all involved gained.

Thank you Ale, Maria and Eduardo. With people like you the world is truly better.

To have you as volunteers has genuinely been wonderful.


Here I is Maria's letter to us which has helped us persevere in this journey that we have set out on:

Now that I have read all your emails, I cannot do less than thank you for the opportunity that you gave us to participate in something as beautiful as Abugida, and especially, in something so real. I have cooperated with other NGOs, and from the heart I tell you, that never before had I felt what I felt there this summer. Nor had I felt what I feel now, knowing that all will continue progressing. That my little ones will continue eating rice with meat, lentils and eggs (I was astonished at the sight of their faces while they watched the plates approaching), that the sweethearts will continue learning and developing their little minds to turn into the next teachers of Abugida. That the older ones will continue repeating what the teacher says, all at once, in form of choir, to be able to have their picture taken wearing the graduation outfit and holding a bunch of flowers, while their proud parents watch.

Thank you as well, for showing me, over and over again, that the world of cooperation can be as I thought it always should be: with principles. I truthfully enjoy being part of this family!!

And, as more than one has rightly said before me, we need more members so as to go forth.

A big kiss to you all!!

17 Oct 2010

70 children more in school.


17/9/2010

Yesterday was a happy day in the public school Fitawrari Abaninya of Akaki, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The 70 children, most 10 years old, who began a bridge course in reading and writing and basic mathematics last april to be able to access a normalized scholar education, have finished the course.
Mediterranea covered the expenses of this course by paying for scholar material for the children and the salaries of the teachers responsible for the classes.
Yesterday the graduation ceremony took place. The heads of education of Akaki Kaliti and the proud parents or grandparents assisted to witness how their children or grandchildren are able to access the educational system which beforehand was not possible due to lack of information or poverty.

As a graduation gift, every child received 5 notebooks and pencils.

70 children less on the streets – 70 children more in school. Another small grain of sand in the desert.

Photo: Girls and boys at the beginning of the course (april 2010)

10 Oct 2010

Return to Addis: 6:20am Palma airport

Bernie and Vitoria about to set off.

Sunday October 10th, we return to Addis Ababa.
This time, apart from Abugida, new projects and relationships are waiting for us.
We can now rename the project: "Schools of Akaki".
On the first day, we shall sign an agreement between the Kebele of Akaki, who will become,  through this act,  our official local counterpart.
They kindly issued us with a letter  to help us with Customs and another as a safe-conduct, knowing well the way local Mafiosos work - and now that we have even more "friends", it is better to watch out than to feel sorry later on.
There will be heartwarming  moments at the Abugida school as well as in the kindergarten.
We will also visit the Fitawrari public school where we are providing  breakfast for 160 children, one studies better with a full stomach,  and we hope to be able to inaugurate the kitchen and dining hall we have built so as to be able to feed over 100 orphans. Heavy rainfall has delayed the opening of this dining hall.

We will get to know the  Biru Tesfa junior school , which was closed for years and will be opened this year with our help.
And we will meet the disabled and handicapped children at the Akaki Mengist school. We intend to to evaluate the situation and find out what we can do in the near future there for them.
And, of course, we will have meetings with the "adopted" families - with those brave mothers and grandmothers (and also with one father equally valued).
To see the positive evolution of these families is most gratifying and cannot be described in words.  To bring hope to people who never had it before is a great responsibility , but is  it also very  worthwhile.  It is good to see how our mothers and grandmothers are stronger with every passing day.
There has not been a single case of abandonment because of poverty, or for any other reason in this program.  Fortunately, there has also not  been any grave health care problem with any child, which again shows the direct relationship between food supply and health.

We shall meet the old folks of the "railroad district" whom we support financially, and also we meet the adult students of Abugida, who not even in summer interrupted their lessons.
And we will certainly we be meeting up with the proud parents of Abugida who are so very happy to have their  their children in our school.

3 Oct 2010

Makeda

Makeda (not really her name but a traditional Ethiopian name meaning "beautiful") is a woman from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, born in the mystical city of Gondar, the Camelot of Africa; a city of incredible castles, a recommended place to visit and a ‘must see’ if you go to Ethiopia.
For some years Makeda lived alone with her 3 sons. She worked as a cook but became ill and had to leave her work. She remained without work, without a home and lived in the streets with her 3 children, the smallest only a baby.
To live in the streets of Addis is extremely difficult for an adult but more so for a child.  Not only are these children deprived of the most basic needs, but they are exposed to violence and danger from the Mafia types who control the begging on the streets. These children can even be kidnapped and used for begging.  Often they are mutilated in order to gain more pity and therefore earn more money.
In such a hostile environment, Makeda decided to give up two of her sons for adoption. Makeda knew that this would be the most painful and difficult decision of her life but the only way, she believed, that her children might have a chance. Comments such as “ in Ethiopia, the mothers do not love their children the way we love ours” and “they are accustomed to giving their children away and therefore have several”, personally infuriates me.
It isn’t so. The mothers there are like any of us, human beings, women with emotions, who have the same feelings, exactly the same as any other mother. To be poor does not mean you are immune to pain and suffering or that you are any less of a mother.
Makeda gave up her children in order that they may live a life without danger and uncertainty. But with this decision came a deep pain. Not only did Makeda realize that this pain would be with her for her entire life but that also she would never know the whereabouts of her children or if they were well.
It was only by a twist of fate that we had the opportunity to meet and learn  more about Makeda.

Makeda was a very thin woman, always together with her smallest son, who in the period when we initially met her, would have been a little more than 1 year old.  Her starvation contrasted enormously with that of her son. He appeared well looked after, well nourished, you would say that the child radiated good health. It was evident that everything Makeda gained from begging was spent on food for her son, not for herself.
Every day, for an entire year that she was without her other two sons, Makeda would ask for news of them, wanting to know if they were safe and well. But, people treated like a "nobody" and ignored her requests for news. She wasn’t a "nobody", only a poorer woman than the others.
Finally she received news and was overjoyed to find that that they were well. When Makeda received the news and saw the photos of her older sons, a river of tears fell down her face. For me, it was a difficult scene to handle, as on one hand I was delighted to be able to give her the news of her sons but on the other hand to see her cry like this, and yet trying not to show her pain, broke my heart.

The family who adopted her sons took kindly to Makeda and wanted to help with some of her financial needs as they didn’t want to see her have to give up her small son due to the continuing poverty situation she was in. One day she said to us “I don’t want to be given more money, they have helped me enough. What I want is to be able to work”.
By this time, Makeda had recovered from her illness that had left her without a job and on the streets. We believed that she would be able to work so we employed her in the Abugida school where she has been for just over a year now. At first, she explained that she had been a cook. Some were skeptical but we asked that she be given a chance. And she proved it, she is a great cook.
The life of Makeda changed, and so has that of her son. He used to be a very easily frightened and shy boy, which is normal when living in the street. Now, he is a happy child who has fully integrated in the school.

Today, Makeda is the head of the kitchen in Abugida and it is all due to her own merits. Her life has turned around 360 degrees.
We hope to be able to turn around the lives of many women like Makeda. Hopefully, sooner than later, so that, should there be children involved, they can stay with such loving, caring mothers as Makeda.

1 Oct 2010

Medical Help for One Ethiopian Boy

Medical Help for One Ethiopian Boy Makes for One Happy Mom!

August 21, 2010  Remember our friend Mikias? The young Ethiopian boy who has been spending a little time with us in Mallorca for treatment of his chronic osteomyelitis?
Well, after four months, the clinging, multiresistant and mutating bacteria that has been an inseparable companion to Mikias for the last four years, and the cause of the destruction of one of his arms, has been beaten. With medical help from the Mediterranea group, his cultures are finally negative. This is great news, which we had almost lost hope to be able to give.
Mikias has gained more than 19 pounds, his nutritional state has improved and so has his body’s natural defense mechanisms. Mikias has healthy bone at last as a result of good nutrition, proper medical attention,  antibiotics, and a boy with a strong will to live.
Next Friday, Mikias will have his big operation where a filling material, which stimulates the growth of new bone tissue, will be introduced to his bone, and the severe deformity of his arm will be corrected.
A new life for Mikias can be now be seen on the horizon.
Mikias Mom and Mediterranea
Here, we leave you with a beautiful photograph of Mikias´s mother at her house in Ethiopia. The happiest mother in the world knowing that her son will have a normal life. Because if life in Ethiopia is hard without having a disability, with one, life turns into something terrible, condemning you to extreme poverty with no opportunity for a decent life.
Mikias´s mother is about to give birth, so we are very happy to be able to give her Mikias’s successful treatment as a gift to her during this special moment of her life.
Mikias´s family loves him very much. The entire village is following the progress of Mikias, and when anyone asks, “Where is he?” the answer is that he is “In Spain” “In Spain? Ah! Yes! The ones that beat everyone to win the World Cup!”  – and the ones who won the battle against Mikias´s bacteria too, heh, heh!
On an additional note, Martha, the girl who came to Mallorca on two occasions to be operated for a serious cifoescoliosis (hump and lateral curvature of the spine) has passed her checkup with our trusted Cuban orthopedist surgeon in Addis Ababa, and is well. This is further great news as her vertebra was so delicate due to malnutrition that we were worried they would not hold the spinal fixings, like once before, when she had to return to Mallorca to go through surgeries multiple times. Today is a day for good news, at least for these special Ethiopians. We are happy that Mediterranea can help and be a part of these success stories.

4 Sep 2010

4th world Mallorca program for 2010-2011

We are preparing the 4th world Mallorca program for 2010-2011. We need help in all the different areas. If you would like to collaborate, do not hesitate, and get in touch with us right away.


4th world Mallorca project 2010-2011

Sections:
           Feeding:
                1)Distribution of food amongst the needy in Calvia.
                2)Distribution of food amongst the needy in Palma.
           Education for the future:
1) Reading and writing, Spanish, English and computer lessons in Palma Nova.
2) Reading and writing, Spanish, English and computer lessons in Palma 1 (San Fernando, Es Forti).
3) Reading and writing, Spanish, English and computer lessons in:Palma 2 (Son Gotleu)
          Help for senior citizens:
                       Volunteers organized according to languages and who are to visit on a regular basis,  senior citizens who have no familys to establish a relationship with them and to help them with minor problems.
           Supplies:
                        Sort and classify clothes and other goods that have been given to us for 4th world citizens.
                        Distribute the supplies amongst those in need.
                        Deliver the goods we can not use to Dexailles and other organizations that can put them to good use.
                        Select amongst the supplies given to us, the articles that can be used as Christmas presents and birthday presents for the senior citizens attended in the "Help for senior citizens"

19 Aug 2010

AT LAST, ABUGIDA’S NURSERY SCHOOL IS NOW OPEN

06/26/10

Next Monday will see the kickoff of Abugida’s nursery school for children from the ages of 1 to 2, affectionately nicknamed “The Cutie Pies” by us and by Abugida’s workers.
We have 31 children starting out, 31 children with 31 histories – quite a few of them very difficult, and all of them, like the histories of their mothers, an example of survival.

"Even when children are valued, it seems their needs and rights are not.” This observation, which appears in a report that discusses the situation of Ethiopia’s children at www.omct.org/pdf/cc/ethiopie_esp.pdf, says so much.

It isn’t easy to be a child in Ethiopia, nor is it easy to be a child in other Third World countries, let alone our Fourth World.

And like the abovementioned report states, the poverty and ignorance in which Ethiopian society has sunk is even more clearly reflected in its children.

This alone we know for certain: by elevating the quality of life of Ethiopian children, we’ll achieve many things, in addition to the obvious, that they’ll grow up healthy and happy.
It will also ensure that no child will be left without an education when he or she leaves Abugida’s nursery, because their parents do not want them to stop going to school.  And those fathers and mothers who would not have taken their children to primary school if it weren’t for Abugida, will not hesitate to do so any more, once they see for themselves what their children are learning in preschool and once they see for themselves just how bright their children are.

In sum, just as we feel about our own children, they, too, have high hopes for their children’s future, and they are proud of them.

Elevating the quality of life of these children also helps advance the fight against discrimination, because no father or mother wants to miss out on getting their child in Abugida. And in living and interacting with one another on a daily basis, they see that their prejudices were caused by nothing more than ignorance.

This nursery school for 1- to 2-year-olds has sparked a revolution in the neighborhood. There are no other nursery schools of this kind where mothers can leave their children knowing that they will be properly fed and they can go to work at jobs that mostly consist of baking injera, washing laundry, working in construction. These jobs are vital to family economies, especially when the head of the household is a single mother, which is very frequent here.

These mothers can now go to work knowing that their children are well taken care of.

Three of the mothers at the nursery school will begin working at the Fitawrari School when its dining room, which we are going to build and maintain for 100 orphans attending the school and living alone, begins operating.
We have had to bring many things from here. We are advocates of developing the local economy, and we always do what we can; but in this case, the carpenter chose to take the Farengi for a ride, so we chose to buy many of the things we needed from a well-known Swedish store, which were cheap and easily transportable.

We’ve also brought swings, toboggans, seesaws, changing tables, waterproof mattresses, toys (which are very hard to find in Addis), baby care items ... it was a real challenge to transport it all, but it has been worth it.

We still have to install the cork flooring. The crisis in Greece has prevented contact glue from being available right now in Ethiopia.

Here are some photos of the day we had such a blast setting up and decorating the nursery school.

The next few photos will be of the kids inside the nursery.

26 Jul 2010

9 months of 4th World in Mallorca

Resume: 4th World Program, Mallorca. November 2009 to July 2010

During this period, a group of approximately 30 enthusiastic and energetic volunteers have worked hard to constantly provide food, clothing, medicines, toys and supplies for personal hygiene to unemployed north Africans, subsaharian Africans, south Americans, Spaniards, and east Europeans amongst others. During nearly all the winter food was handed out for over 1500 meals a day. Given the well know generosity of the subsaharian people with  their fellow countrymen the food was probably going to a bigger population than we estimated.
We maintained our collaboration with Zaqueo and Can Gaza. We have been working with them for many years and we plan to continue doing so. Our volunteers carried out a remarkable effort not just helping Can Gaza in becoming self sufficient but in improving the centre so as to better the quality of life of the residents.

In reference to the food handed out, over 26379 kg were distributed. Of these 6.5 tons were rice, and over 6180 litres  was milk.  975 kg were delivered to Zaqueo, 7000kg were distributed in Palma Nova, 18000 kg in Palma and approximately 400 kg were delivered to Can Gaza.
The foods handed out included: oil, rice, garlic, broad beans, meat cubes, chocolate powder, onions, pasta, tinned fruit, flower, milk, salt, pepper, canned tomatoes and bread. At the same time, soaps, detergent, bleach and nappies were distributed.

We also started two school where unemployed people were taught to read and write, Spanish, English and introduction to computering. This was very important as giving them these skill better their job opportunities and also will enable them to act as interpreters and guides when they return to their home land. Those of you who know the third world will know how good it is to find a guide or interpreter who speaks your language.

The Crisis, unfortunately has not disappeared, and this winter we will find ourselves once again with people eating out of the garbage bins, people struggling not to slip in to the world of crime or prostitution so as to subsist and people that because of many reasons can not access the Establishment's help channels.

Thank you to all the team.
Michael Stoma