15 May 2011

We are Starting our Latest Adventure in Ethiopia

Today Debora leaves for Ethiopia, she’s travelling out to join Virginia in Addis Ababa.  As you know, both are teachers of the blind and are going to Sebeta School in the village of Sebeta (Oromia), some 20 km from Addis on the road to Jimma.  Once they have settled in they will be instructing the other teachers in how to best teach Braille to the children.  They’ll be teaching techniques for orientation and mobility using walking sticks for the blind and demonstrating some creative ways to teach the blind.

To assist with this (together with what other volunteers have already taken over) they will be taking a lot of Braille learning material.  These children like all children in the world love to play and this material is designed to help them learn through play.

The school has a classroom for music but has practically no instruments, so they will be bringing recorders, harmonicas and tambourines.  Virginia took out 40 walking sticks and Debora will take pointers.  Once there they will search out a local craftsman who can hopefully make them locally.  They are also taking footballs that make a noise and board games like chess, ludo, connect four and packs of cards, all of which were obtained from ONCE.  We want to build up a small library of learning materials that can be expanded with subsequent visits.  In total we will be delivering more than 140 kg of material especially for the blind boys, girls and children of this school.

Virginia and Debora will be the pioneers in this our first initiative with a blind school.  It is our intention to continue supporting this school with human and material resources during future visits.

Nearly 50% of the cases of blindness are unknown but of the 50% that are know the majority come from vitamin A deficiency, measles or infection during pregnancy, all of which are preventable.  Other causes are congenital or traumatic cataracts and damage to the optic nerve.

Sebeta School was founded in 1959 and was the first school for the blind in Ethiopia.  There are 143 children attending the school between primary grades 1 to 6.

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