15 Aug 2011

Diary of Ale, Abugida 7, 19 July

The day got off to a terrible start! Carol didn’t sleep a wink all night long and got up feeling very down. She felt so low that she suddenly started crying whilst we were having breakfast. It rains day after day, the work is hard (if you are looking to do some charity work in your holidays then look elsewhere, this is no holiday), we haven’t had any internet access for days and it’s impossible to make phone calls (this makes us feel even more cut off than we already are), we seem to be going round and round in circles trying to get things done (people don’t fulfil deadlines or stick to the quoted prices, we have to negotiate everything…). She knew this wasn’t going to be easy but she is realising just how hard it really is now. We all have bad days and it’s good to be surrounded by friendly people when we are having a hard day.  Jonás, who is in charge of the storeroom always looks after us, the director is always joking around with us, Mrs Kedija is like a mother to us, Alem who prepares our food lovingly, the little ones who shower us with kisses….! So we had some group therapy! We talked about the country, the culture, the things we need to change in order to promote its development… we talked about all the things we HAVE managed to achieve up until now (lots) to cheer ourselves up and organised the things we still have to do. Jonás set us straight “but you are worried about such material things…! God is here and he is good!”. And with those words (without any cake) we went to the babies’ classroom to check how things were going.  Mrs Kebebuch had prepared them all a puree for their morning snack. You can’t imagine how hungrily they wolfed it down. Four hands giving out the food and that wasn’t enough! How many months had it been since they last had a decent meal? When will their hunger ever be satisfied? Today one of the mums told us that since her baby had been accepted by Mediterránea in Abugida, his weight had gone up from six to ten kilos. Even though this mother received milk from the school to feed her little one at home before the nursery class was started up, he still weighed less than the average child of his age. At this rate, they will soon weigh double!

Full tummies so then it was playtime! They love the xylophones (and all the other toys) that I bought with your donations. And the seesaw that Victoria brought. They are getting used to the classroom, the teachers, the mealtimes… The timetables are now being observed in the classrooms. Last week we put clocks in all the classrooms and as I told you, the carers prepared timetables out of card. This means that there is time to fit everything in, the children know what time to expect things and feel more secure and the whole team is well coordinated.  

In the “melons” class they are putting up the curtains we fetched yesterday. They couldn’t stop laughing at the noise of the electric drill! Siesta time is now much better than before as they can now block out the light. Tomorrow we will go to Addis to look for a CD player so they can listen to relaxing music whilst they rest.  Whilst the little ones were sleeping, I found the teachers preparing their own workbooks, making a note of the personal details of all the pupils so they always have them to hand, leaving space to write all the things we have asked them to write about each child. This means they will have better control and next year when they change teachers, the new one will have lots of background information on each child as it will all be noted down in the books.  What a great school we have set up! What’s more, it’s a bilingual school because the older children sing to me in Spanish!

As “Abugida is never boring”, we had some news today. This boy came and asked for help. He’s 15 years old and his parents died four years ago (I can guess what of). Since then he’s been living in this mud hut with the family of one of his father’s friends who took him in. This man already has 8 other children and it’s too much responsibility for him and wants the boy to start fending for himself. The boy wants to carry on studying and came to our paradise to ask for help. We helped him of course (not without checking out his situation first… we talked to him, with the man he’d been living with, we visited the house…). He will be given food at the school from now on and as requested, we will buy him a mattress, blanket, sheet and anything else he needs to be able to live with dignity without being a burden to his foster family. In exchange, he’s going to help out at the school, doing what he knows best: painting. He’s a really good artist! He’s so excited that he’s found help and kindness and that he can show people what he’s worth. I have already given him a little “telling off” for a start, I have warned him not to get too carried away with the painting and that he should concentrate on studying which is more important! As you can see in the photo, we have dressed him in new clothes just his size, that were given to me by my colleague Isabel and a tracksuit from the Puente Real de Badajoz school (the uniform shop gave me several and they have come in very handy!).

After class we had another meeting about the school year with the mums of two other groups of pupils (those from classrooms 1 and 2). Just like yesterday’s meeting with classes 3 and 4 we spoke about timetables, mealtimes, activities…… and the helpers introduced themselves to their pupils’ mums, reminding them that we are here to help them and are open to all suggestions. I made a point of telling the mums how lucky they are to have such wonderful teachers who will ensure that their children are more than well looked after. The mothers in the classroom left me with lovely pictures like these…..
I am delighted when I look out the window to see the grandmother of Mikiyas (one of my babies from last summer) arriving with the little boy so that he can give kisses to his teachers from the last school year. Even though Miki is happy with his new helpers, he still loves the people who showed him so much love. What a lovely scene of this reunion with the hardworking teachers of Abugida. 
We spent the remainder of the afternoon at the market. We bought more socks (we are now up to 142) and lots of other things and we treated ourselves to dinner at the petrol station.  
Our Carol soon got over her morning blues (these things don’t last long) and we all end up having a good laugh about how the day started as it seemed like it was doomed to be one of those really bad days when everything goes wrong but it turned out well in the end. THE SUN CAME OUT!
Sweet dreams and chocolate kisses. 

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