Look how lovely my small E is with her mother. They are all happy! Permanently smiling! I adore Abugida, passing the day receiving hugs and kisses from everyone. Her mother is very beautiful and strong. Who could imagine it has changed their lives. No, life has arrived for them at last! It is obvious that here ‘VIH’ (HIV positive) signifies ‘Vive Intensamente Happy’ (Live intensely happy).
The new babies cried when they arrived and for some time afterwards, especially the smallest. It is normal as they have spent all their lives stuck on their mothers backs all hours of the day and we are not able, nor should we, take them in our arms too much. Bit by bit they calm down and very slowly start to investigate some of the toys… soon they will master them. The carers handle them all very well with us following behind them helping them be the best they can be. We have already marked the tracksuits in order to form groups. Red group finished! The carers told me that last summers organisation was very helpful and they achieved some good results, so we will do the same this year. I still have to number them, put photos and names on their baskets, put lists on the walls… but we are interrupted by a group of mothers of my babies from last year. They have come to give thanks to the carers of their children. You cannot imagine how moving this is. In the patio of the kindergarten they have prepared a coffee ceremony with popcorn and bread for the carers. They have made a present for each carer and even the cleaners. For Kebebuch, Beza, Selemawi and Zinash a painting. For Mulu a luminous cross! The details made by one of the mothers who hardly has enough to live on. Each one of the carers said a few words thanking the mothers for their gestures. I loved it when Kebebuch said that it had been a long time since her heart had felt anything like this and that she wasn’t expecting anything like this and that this gave her a big surge of energy to carry on working well and even better. Well, all the girls said something very beautiful. Perhaps it was that all the teachers of the school were present applauding and saying that they had never seen anything like this before. Imagine how motivating this was for the carers. I told them that for me this was more valuable than a thousand emails telling me how good they are. Today I knew for sure that they work well, that the children in the kindergarten had been happy, healthy and cared for because if the mothers thanked them (even beyond what they could afford) it was because they excelled in their work. The girls were all delighted.
More positive things. Oh what a lovely day! After the classes we started with the training course for the carers of the kindergarten. What a dream this is! As I have already mentioned we are putting on an hours training each working day to help them learn and improve. I remembered from last year that spending only ten minutes together after classes to review performance wasn’t enough so this year we have made an hour obligatory. Well, they were not only happy to attend but we also had other carers and even cleaners attend. There are six carers in our classes but we had thirteen attend the training! It was particularly satisfying that the two carers from the older classes also attended. Today’s session was about the timetable. Carol and I explained and Zerihun translated into Amharic. The carers took notes in their workbooks and also made suggestions, offered ideas and asked questions. At the end they all decided to create their own versions of the timetables using cards and felt tip pens which they will put in the classrooms. In this way they make it their own and will respect it more. It has been great to see their desire to learn and their positive attitude towards their work. It made me very happy.
As for the rest of the day, it rained intensively but at least not for the whole of the day. When it stopped we were able to go to the market in order to buy some material. If any other volunteer is thinking of coming in July or August don’t forget to bring a kagool and wellington boots. The roads are covered in mud and to get to the market is a test of balance trying not to slip and also of strength in lifting boots clogged with mud. ‘Kiremt’ is what they call the rainy season. At the market we bought some milk for the babies, some paper for the new classroom, some buckets to fill the baths, some plate scrubbers and a washtub. All of these needing some intense and not always successful negotiation, starting with ‘Senteno?’ how much does it cost? And ending with ‘Mecherreso!’ is this the last price? In between yes Messi, yes Xavi, yes Iniesta. They love to talk about football and they love Barcelona and what we like to do is make conversation to arrive at a good price! Little more to say about today, except that they all look after us very well. At all hours checking to see if we are alright. Feeding us well, today we ate pasta and tomato with the little ones, it was delicious. Alem is a phenomenal cook.