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.
4 Dec 2010
1 Dec 2010
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.
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…