19 Aug 2010
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.