20 Feb 2010

A letter

This is an e:mail that I am including on our blog with the permission of Conchi, a member of Mediterranea, and her husband José Luis who are just back after their second trip to Abugida.

Dear Victoria,
My goodness, our first trip to Abugida a year and a half ago was incredible but this time I barely have the words to describe our second visit.
Perhaps this e:mail will sound a bit over the top and ever so twee, but we admire these children and people so much in their struggle against such adversity, that we don't mind if you think we are sugary-sweet in our descriptions, ha! ha!

First, I would like to talk to you about Dr Zerinhu, one of Mediterranea's representatives. Congratulations on having found this wonderful man! His passion, dedication, enthusiasm, committment and total devotion to this project brings tears to your eyes.

The same as when we came the first time, we were welcomed magificently with the children singing and bearing bunches of flowers. We were invited to "injera" (absolutely delicious) and then the tea ceremony. The atmosphere was charged with kindness, hospitality, joy and, of course, lots of music and dancing.

It's just as well that I am not self-conscious, because I must have looked totally ridiculous, the clumsiest "faranji" trying to dance in Abugida.

I admit that I was red-faced with embarrassment but how could anyone posssibly not join in with such a well-planned and heart-felt welcome party. It was a celebration that we will never forget as long as we live.

The rejoicing at our arrival was overwhelming. These people truly appreciate our work. Mediterranea is a small NGO but, my goodness it has a very big heart and is well-loved!

The changes since a year and a half ago are enormous. The building is making great progress; the new classrooms, the dining room, the nursery which even has a place to wash clothes, (you have thought of everything). And the good news is that , according to Zeri, everything will be ready in about 6 weeks.

The number of children being educated this year has increased to 175.

We met all of the children who are being sponsored and we hope that there will be many more children involved in this project in the future.

I really take my hat off to the Mediterranea charity for everything that you have achieved in such a short time. You don't just talk you act and you get results.

The " little sweeties" ha! ha! between 2 and 3 years old are tremendous! What a fantastic achievement, allowing these children to attend nursey school and at the same time, giving the mothers the opportunity and time to go out to work in order to improve their economic situation. These people are so grateful and happy to find a way of improving their lot. Their thanks is palpable.

We visited the State school and they too are very grateful to Mediterranea for their help.
We visited the girls toilets which are almost finished and we saw the path that leads to the entrance and which becomes a mudbath during the rainy period. It will make a big difference to everyone once this path has been paved and pupils and staff can reach the maindoor safely especially when it rains.

This State school has very few resources and the money that they receive from the State just about pays the wages of the staff.

You can't compare this type of school to the private ones which only 1% of families can aspire to. The remaining 99% haven't got a chance.

The staff need and would like lots of materials including texts in English.
They have an obsolete library, the books are extremely dated so new material is much needed and would be considered a luxury by teachers and pupìls alike.

They told us that their dream is to have, at least, one computer per class and access to internet. This would improve the quality of education and would solve the problem of not having up-to-date books. An NGO had provided them with 3 computers but they were old and didn't work. This is a typical case of only given old, useless materials to charity.
For this reason they thanked us repeatedly for Mediterranea's useful help and hope to continue to work with us. Their gratitude made me feel very small.

After such an emotionally-charged day, I felt the urgent need to write this e:mail and to communicate to you, Mediterranea, this NGO, or I should say, this great, big family, that so many people hold you close in their hearts for giving so much so that they can have a better life.

We witnessed children's smiling faces, a general feeling of happiness in the knowledge that a better future awaits them, all thanks to Mediterranea's efforts.

 We also thank you for allowing us to experience life in Abugida first hand and to be able to inform you that our work there really makes a difference.

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