12 Jul 2010

My first visit to the Abugida school in Ethiopia

Three weeks ago,  Victoria, Stefi and I returned from Ethiopia. It was my first visit to the Abugida school we have in the outskirts of Addis Ababa.
After driving south for about half an hour we took a left hand turn and drove up a very bumpy muddy  road which made me doubt that the car would reach the school in one piece. After driving approximately 350 meters up this lane, flanked by small houses made of bits of wood and tin, we arrived at a gate and there behind it stood majestically the Abugida school. The parents had painted it the two Mediterranea blues and it was like finding an oasis.
Little faces with big smiles came running out to meet us. They were all wearing their blue uniforms and looked very healthy and bubbly.

The main reasons for our trip were :
-to deliver all the supplies we travelled with to the nursery we had just built
-to set up the nursery and decorate it
-to deliver the computers we took with us to the Fitawrari school
-to give an introduction to computering lesson to all the teachers of the Abugoda school and the Fitawrari
-to meet and check out the situation of the senior citizens we have been asked to help
-to be present in the inauguration of the new classes and other  rooms (dining room, nursery, etc) we built in the school

I could write a long story about all that happened, about the people that came to the inauguration, about the speeches, the tears, the singing and dancing, the Ethiopian television, the clothes the women wore, the typical Ethiopian food, the religious leaders of different religions and how they were clearly friends and respected each other, the way they blessed each and every new space we had created,  but what really impressed me was something else.

When our volunteers return from Ethiopia we have a debrief, and then I study all the pictures and videos as I utilise them for the web and presentations. This procedure gives me a certain amount of knowledge about the school but these things I now noticed, were things this information did not transmit to me, and I only understood them when I was there. What really struck me was the feeling of deep rooted  happiness and confidence the children had. They were overflowing with happiness and humour. They looked healthy, strong, secure, wanting to make friends and were  always willing to sing and laugh. Children bought up in a happy surrounding tend to grow up to be happy, stable, healthy and friendly adults.

I was very impressed by the importance of this program in the lives of so many children.
I realised that the effort we make to enable this program to exist is very little compared to the good it does, and at the same time I understood the fear our team that runs this project has in reference to the sustainability of it.
It is actually a very complex program. The distance does not help, the lack of supplies in the country, and the idiosyncrasy of the people make it all the more difficult to run.
Often they do not understand us and more often we do not understand them. But summing up we went there to help  little people  have an education, be healthy and happy and we are clearly succeeding.
The Abugida model is so good we should export it to another school. If we had more members we probably could, but till then that is a dream and Abugida is a reality.

Victoria and her team of helpers have created a school, but probably what is more important than that, they have created happiness.

Thank you for being a part of Mediterranea, this success is also yours.

To see the video:http://www.youtube.com/ongmediterranea

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