The group arrived a little ahead, and had already spent some time getting supplies ready and organized. Monday when Deborah and Dr. Northcott arrived, some of the program had already begun!
Here they have packed up the beautiful backpacks given to Canadian Humanitarian to give to students.
They visited the KIRKOS center to complete the art program and give the students their own backpacks.
We had a great day last Saturday, with two of our Kid's Hope Education centers.
Kirkos Center hosted a celebration for us - with dancing, poems, dramas, and treats.
Ken and Audrey gave their wonderful presentation on realizing your dreams, by telling everyone about riding their bikes across Canada last summer to raise funds for Canadian Humanitarian.
Alemgena and Guelele Centers also put on a celebration for us - with musical performances, and acrobatics. They were amazing!
We have been busy here in Addis Ababa, and in the countryside.
We have done over 200 Echo-cariograms, seen 120 children for medical examinations, and over 100 adult medical examinations.
We have also had spirometry testing for those with asthma.
Here is Angie, teaching kids how to do the "blow test"
We traveled out to the Alemgena Education Center today and started giving medicals to the children and their guardians.
First, we get set up - exam rooms, and a place for our Pharmacy supplies.
We take their blood pressure, height and weight, and medical history, and then they meet with a doctor in one of the rooms set up as exam rooms for this visit.
A great big thanks to our diligent translators - this would be impossible without you!
Before we could go visit one our Education Centers, we had a lot of organizing to do!
We had donations of school supplies to sort through, and quilts and sweaters. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make these donations possible!
We also had to go through our Pharmacy Supplies - take stock of what we had and what had expired, and add in the new donations in preparation for doing medicals at the Education Centers. It was a lot of work, and our volunteers are awesome!
The children at the Gindo Center were so much fun to spend the day with! We were treated to several different short dramas that they had written themselves. They also love to sing and dance, and favoured us with a performance every day we were there.
They use an old empty jerry can for a drum, one student leads the singing, and everyone likes to dance!
We taught them a few silly songs ourselves, like "funky chicken" and "head, shoulders, knees and toes". They enjoyed getting to roar back at us when we pretended to be grizzly bears.
They also thought that "duck, duck, goose" was hilarious.
Every day we did some work with English, whether reading them stories, or using Alphabet flash cards. They were really good at recognizing the English alphabet!
Our last day there, they also showed us some of their soccer skills. There is an open field next to the Center, so they set up some impromptu goal markers, and went at it. Some of our volunteers, and even our drivers got involved in the game!
Overall, it was a lovely few days. We are excited to see the progress being made in all the programs going on in Gindo!
We had several crafty activities planned for the children in the Gindo Center. They made woven placemats
Wooden Spoon Puppets
Painted a long banner
and put their very own mural on the wall of one of the classrooms! It was a lot of fun to convince them that I did want them to put their hands in the tray of paint for this. And they squealed and laughed at the way it felt.
It is the wet season in Ethiopia right now, which means it is also planting season. We saw a lot of green countryside and ploughing teams as we passed the open fields on our way to Gindo.
We were out in Gindo for the past 4 days, doing classes and games with the children, and marveling at how much work has been done on the Education Center and the Garden!
There are 2 of these classrooms, and each one by itself is about as large as the entire building they were renting before! We held our classes here at the new Center, although they will not move into it full time until the electrical work is done.
There is a tiled pathway surrounding the building, and ramps leading up to each door.
The main hall if looking amazing! Even with a few construction materials left in it!
The Garden continues to produce, and looks wonderful. Because they are using better gardening practices, the produce from this garden is better quality than what used to be available in the local market. It is benefiting the whole community!
They call these green peppers, but they aren't sweet! These little guys are hot, and I've learned to watch out for them in the local cooking.
We always have lots of company from the local children when we take a tour of the garden, as it is a bit of a walk from the Center.
After lunch, it was time for some games!
The program managers had brought along a pinata, so the children lined up to take a swing at it.
It took a few tries, but they eventually beat that box open!
After that, we had races - egg races, where they had to carry an egg on a spoon, held in their mouth,
and potato sack races!
After that, the day was almost gone, so we hopped back on the bus and drove back to Kirkos Center.
There was still lots of singing and laughter, but just as many sleeping children as awake ones on the drive back home.
Today we took the kids from the Kirkos Center out of town on a fun activity day.
We started off the excitement with the bus getting stuck on some overhead power lines, so the bus driver's assistant had to climb up and get us untangled.
The drive out to Debre Ziet is almost 2 hours from Kirkos Center (due to traffic and construction) but the kids were singing and laughing and have a wonderful time all the way out.
Once in Debre Ziet, we went to a swimming pool! This is a big deal for 50 kids who never get a chance to go swimming, or leave the city! They squealed and laughed, and played in the water for hours.
After we could convince them to get out and dry off, we all had lunch together.
After lunch, we played games! Check out the next post for pictures!
The last couple of days have been packed with fun!
We spent each morning at the Kirkos Center. The children have just finished their school year, so they are available all day to come and have fun with us!
In the afternoons, we returned to the Guelele Center.
At each of the centers we did reading groups,
read stories aloud and acted them out,
and had the children write their own stories.
We did art projects,
and fun activities like making the best paper airplane and learning how to bowl!
We used water bottles for pins, and a soccer ball to knock them down.
The kids at the Guelele Center were also excited to show off some of their circus skills.
To finish off our activities today, we had each center work on a banner with a painting from every child.
It sure was a lot of fun!
We arrived to the Addis Ababa airport early this morning, met our wonderful taxi driver Ketema, and headed to the Guest House.
We had the morning off to relax, rest, and unpack, and then this afternoon we went to the Guelele Center.
It was so much fun! We read stories (in English) to the kids who were there, and then had them participate in an art project, and a science project!
The art project involved a lot of paint by the end of it.
The science project was to try and fold the best paper airplane. They held races with their crafts until a winner was announced victorious.
A short day today, but we don't mind. We are looking forward to sleeping on a real bed tonight!
Only a few more days and I will be back in Ethiopia with another team of volunteers. I have been looking forward to this since I got home in February!
We have an amazing schedule planned; visits to the programs, art and science classes with the kids, and a party planned with each center to celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of our summer programs!
I'm excited to go inside the Education Center in Gindo, and see the progress in person! And to see the garden full of growing vegetables.
Last time I was there, we were only beginning to see little green sprouts,
and now they are harvesting daily!
I leave in 3 days, so expect to be hearing from me again soon!
We also spent a couple days working in the Medical Clinics in Gindo and in Kota, a smaller community even farther into the countryside. We took quite a few supplies with us!
We portioned out bags of iodized salt to give out to community members who have goiter (which is caused by an iodine deficiencies).
The doctors provided a free clinic day to each community, and saw many people from those communities.
We also had a box of prescription and reading glasses donated, and were able to give out many pairs to community members who needed them.
There were a lot of happy faces as they tried the glasses on and found that they could see!
At Kota, our group of volunteers was quite the unusual spectacle, and we got a bit of an audience gathered outside the clinic compound watching us work.
The ForeSight Fathers were busy as well, building beds, planting garlic, and learning about how to protect themselves as they administer pest control in homes in the community.
The beds turned out quite successfully, and are really comfortable!
A few of us couldn’t resist trying them out.
We were able to present the first bed to a guardian of one of the children in the program while we were there.
The children at BEKA Gindo greeted us with huge smiles, and singing songs.
We were able to complete all the medical check-ups in one full day.
The art project was very well received by the children at Gindo, and when we came back the next day, the classroom was decorated with streamers made of the chain-linked strips of paper the children had written and drawn on as part of the art project.
They also were thrilled to be introduced to playdough!
We have spent the last 5 days out in the Amaya region visiting the BEKA Gindo Program in Gindo-town, and doing some work at a couple of local clinics.
The first major excitement of the trip was seeing the amazing progress on the new education center.
The roof is on!!
And while we were there for a few days, the windows and the doors arrived and started to be installed.
There will be 2 kitchens, one modern style kitchen indoors, as well as a more traditional fire kitchen in this building, separate from the main hall.
We also got a tour of the gardens, which are growing!
There are green sprouts growing under the canopies of dried grass built over the garden beds to protect the seeds and small plants from the sun.
The well is full of water and they haul up a bucket at a time to water the gardens.
The ForeSight Fathers were there, working the soil into more garden beds to prepare for the planting of a large bag of garlic that we had brought for them.
Today we spent the entire day at YTH Kids Hope Alemgena. Like Guelele, this is an after school program where the children get to participate in student clubs, tutoring, and are fed a hot meal every day.
Alemgena is on the outskirts of the city of Addis Ababa, in the countryside.
Again we put our doctors to work doing medical check-ups on all of the 45 children who were able to come to the center on a Saturday. There are 50 children in total in this program.
We had lunch under a canopy that the children kindly put up for us, slung between trees and fence posts to provide shade in the front yard. Watching them get it set up was impressive!
One boy spent several minutes up a tree, working to secure the tarp so it didn’t hang too low in the middle.
In the afternoon one of our volunteers put on an Art activity for the kids, helping them to express through Art how they would bring peace to their lives and their community.
They love drawing and painting, and were very happy with the resulting decorations for a tree on the grounds.
They also love to sing and dance – they put on some music, grabbed some drums, and had a wonderful time!
It has been a busy few days! We have visited several of the programs, and met many of the children who attend them.
We spent an afternoon at YTH Kids Hope Guelele, where the kids got to build bridges and structures out of popsicle sticks!
They looked like they were having a great time!
While they were busy building, we would pull a few at a time out of the class and send them to one of our four doctors for their yearly medical check-up.
We had a lot of fun weighing, measuring height, and getting photos of the children on their way to see a doctor!
At the same time, a session for the guardians of the children was going on, to help them understand how to deal with grief and loss - both their own, and that of the children they are raising. Many of the guardians are the grandmothers of the children in the program.
The children are fed a hot meal every day when they come to the center, and are very good about helping to clean up afterwards.
And that was the end of Friday!
Today was our last day in Gindo. It was hard to leave other than the promise of a softer bed and hot water in our guesthouse in Addis.
We wanted to leave the BEKA Center with a bang. So we cut right to heart of any kid in Ethiopia - a new soccer jersey and a soccer game! (a big thanks to the Okotoks soccer association and the CUC Lacombe Charity Triathlon for your donations)
The soccer game was beyond amazing. By the time we had the kids split up into two team and rocks set out for posts about 300 people had gathered to form the sidelines and watch these young kids play with all their might.
The boys played against the boys and girls played the girls.
After we said our goodbyes to these bright children we headed towards Addis. But before we got back into town there was one more adventure in store...a volcano!
Ok well the volcano was extinct but it was still pretty amazing. As you cane see we were clearly excited.
The day ended driving home in the dark after a extremely fantastic time in the countryside!
We started today with another beautiful drive from Woliso to Gindo. This 45 min -1 hour drive gave me time to reflect as we whipped by the countryside of this beautiful country.
What are we doing here in Ethiopia? And is it really making a difference? Are we well-intentioned but missing the mark? or is lasting, positive change taking place? These are questions that I have oftened asked and that I think are questions that should continually be asked. An honest and constant evaulations of our projects and our methods is the best way to help our beneficiaries.
Today my questions were answered in a big way as we arrived in Gindo and Steve and I headed down a little hill and down towards a small creek. We were greeted by this sign
Here in the center of Gindo about a 5 min walk from the BEKA construction site is a large garden, operated by the female guardians of the children at the BEKA Center. These women have formed a savings group to begin a garden in the neighbour. As the sign states in Oromifa, Amharic and English the vision the women have for the garden is
"To be a model of personal and community development by creating a rewarding business that will allow us to live a better life and confidently move to a bright future."
These women are doing it, and they are bringing the men along.
While the garden is entirely run by the women, and funded with Canadian Humanitarian's help from their savings, this does not prevent the recruiting of some of the local men to do some heavy work.
Along with women in the community men have also been formed into a group call the Foresight Fathers. These fathers have formed a group that is based on hard work, service to others, knowledge, and self-sufficiency.
Recently becoming a father myself I thought I would give the first principle (hard work) a try.
Being on the end of a 8 foot pole with a sharp metal spade with a far more fit Ethiopian man on the other end quickly turned form exciting into a few blisters. The earth here is unforgiving but these men and women are resilient, creating growth out of seemingly nothing. That is all for today.
Today we decided that we would all wear our Canadian Humanitarian T-Shirts! What a great looking bunch of people as we took off in the vans this morning!
We began the work of gathering updates photos, completing medical examinations, and having the children begin to work on their cards for their sponsors in Canada. kids are so much fun to be with!
writing for our sponsors:
The guardians of the children, and the farmers from the Foresight Fathers program attended a session on business management taught by one of our volunteers while all this was going on.
The fact that we did not always have someone to translate did not interfere with being able to communicate with one another. Playing is playing, no matter how you talk about it!
The kids loved learning how to sing itsy bitsy spider with actions!
The kids loved getting their photos taken and wanted us to take lots!
Friends, in many different combinations, were the photo results.
You could feel their love and friendship for one another as we did these photos.
It is hard to describe how it feels to be swept into that circle of love so quickly by these children. Maybe this photo will help. They allowed us to belong in their circle of love!
On the road between Woliso and Gindo there are many immense Warka trees!
They symbolize to the local people connection between past generations, the present, and the future. Important meetings, festivals, and celebrations are held underneath the Warka tree. Often markets are held under these immense trees.
We decided to catch a group photo beside one of these trees on the way home to Woliso. We found one close to the road, and stopped the vans to get out and set up. As we did, people came from fields to see what we were doing. To our surprise, a bus stopped and people got out to watch us!
Then another vehicle stopped and a man stepped out and joined our photo. He said hello, made himself comfortable at the right end of the group, just as the cameras caught images of the group. He smiled, waved, and then returned to his vehicle and drove away. We all marveled that this had just happened!
So here is our photo of the group, leaning on the trunk of a Warka Tree, with the "unknown man". We will always wonder who he was, but appreciate that he wanted to be part of our photo.
Our day ended with the most spectacular sunset. Another unforgettable day!
Today we travelled to the rural community of Gindo, about 3 hours south west of Addis. The road from Addis to Woliso was pretty good, the improvements they have made are apparent. We stopped for a quick drink at our hotel in Woliso and dropped a few things off. After Woliso we turned off the main road and headed to Gindo. My back quickly recognized that we were no longer on the main road. However, when we finally got to Woliso any thought of my back quickly faded away as we anxiously approached the construction site of the new BEKA Center.
BEKA Construction site July 2011
BEKA Construction site Oct 2011
The progress is amazing. I could scarcley believe what I was seeing. Where there was once an open field there was now a completed foundation, the start of walls and a very deep latrine.
The start of a 4 meter deep latrine.
Dick and I were lucky to have Michale, the engineer/contractor of the project, travel with us to the project. We were able discussed the project, inspect the quality and learn about the impact the projects is already having on the community.
We were very pleased to hear from Michale that at any one time the site was employing between 10 - 40 workers from the local community! The BEKA Center is not even complete yet and it is already improving lives in Gindo. The building is exceeding all of our expectations in its quality and impact.
While we were at the construction site we were pleased to meet up with representatives from LDS Charities. Canadian Humanitarian has partnered with this group to further upgrade the water distribution system in Gindo. LDS Charities are providign all the infrastructure for new water distribution points in the communty, while we partner to provide sanitation training and ongoing monitoring and maintinence. WE visited several water poitnts that are being constructed around town.
After an eventful afternoon we finally made it to the BEKA Center where the children were waiting. The smiles on their faces and their excitment was palatable. We were treated to some great dancing, drumming and drama.
I can't wait to go back and see the kids again tomorrow!
A new day began with the group ready for another day of adventure and new experiences.
Today we were able to deliver the items we purchased at Merkato yesterday.
When we arrived at the PATH center, many of the guardians were already there waiting for us.
As each family signed for their items, we helped to put their packages together, and got to meet the guardians. After some time, everything was distributed and complete.
After a break for lunch again- we were off to meet new youth and children at the YTH Alemgena Center. This group also enthusiasically tried to learn our names, and were fun to interview, play soccer, and spend time with.
The group at YTH Alemgena!
Tonight we went out for traditional food and dance for supper. Doing this not only feeds your body! The energetic traditional music and dancing really brought Ethiopian culture into our souls... another day to remember!
Today our last volunteer arrived! After being in transit for over 48 hours, she was amazingly awake!
We all went together to Merkato Market this morning. It was amazing. It is one of the largest open markets in Africa.
We were there to purchase wheat flour, cooking oil, and laundry soap for the PATH program guardians.
There is so much activity in Merkato. You can buy just about anything IF you can find your way around in the maze of streets, vendors and items.
Mesfin was wonderful, and we located what we needed within a short time.
We were able to purchase it all, put it into the back of his van, and depart the market.
Once we had this task done, we took a break for lunch.
We got ready to head to YTH Guelele to begin interviews with the children there, and for getting updated photos. It was so much fun!
We played a game where the children had to remember our names, and then we tried to remember a grouping of 6 children's names. I think the kids did better at learning our names than we did theirs! But what fun to see whose memory was best!
The kids loved getting their photos taken, and for some it became like a photo-shoot.
After a wonderful couple of hours, we left with promises of returning later in our expedition.
What a wonderful day! Can hardly wait til tomorrow.
Another expedition is officially underway! After meeting up in Calgary and London and finally flying to Addis we are healthy, excited to get to work and very tired.
We arrived early this morning and after checking into our guesthouse some quick breakfast, and a little rest we were ready to take on Addis. We exchanged some funds into Ethiopian Birr and then headed to the National Soccer Stadium for an afternoon soccer match. St.George (the team we were cheering for) was victorious.
It is off to bed now after a really long few days. Work starts tomorrow and I can't wait to start visiting and working with our projects.
Pictures of the group to come!
Some favourite images that I will keep forever from my time in Ethiopia:
Our day doing medicals on new children for the BEKA center.. and how happy the children seemed despite their poverty.
How the children loved being taught with a child centered focus!
How they love to play games!
That the guardians and children work so hard, and want to learn!
We visit the YTH Centers, play games, teach, learn some new games, and cannot believe our time in Addis is almost over! I have loved being with the children at each of the centers.
They are amazing people!
We visit the PATH Center, some to teach, some to play with the kids.
We love their art work!
We love our tour of SSCM Vocational Training Center. Here the students learn wood working, metal work and hair dressing! Some of us even got our nails done so the hairdressing students could practice!
We come back to Addis and spend our first day with the children of LIGA School!
We play games, learn new songs, and have a wonderful time!
We finally have to say goodbye to our friends in Gindo Town!
The children are beautiful!
As our days pass working in Gindo Town we accomplish a lot:
The children LOVE their craft and painting activities!
The children sing at the ground breaking ceremony for over 500 people from local government and community members!
We are part of the ground breaking ceremony for the new education center. The sign is put up!
The garden planting is begun!
The children are so excited to see us!
After some prelimary organizing, we begin our activities: teaching, ...
helping Clinic staff to clean the maternity and labour suite...
Our first stop once in Gindo is to visit the market garden site of the guardians.
This is new land the town has given to be developed as an income generating program.
Food grown will help with the hot lunch program of the education center, as well as all the guardians of the children who attend the center every day.
We will be helping to begin planting while here this week! It is exciting to see the land being prepared for this as we arrive.
We head out of the city of Woliso on foot to the road to Gindo Town.
We get to see the people of this region as we walk towards our day's site.
Along the way, we stop by this enormous Warka Tree to take a photo - with one brave volunteer climbing the tree limb for her pose!
After a short time in Addis to prepare for our departure to the country side, we all load on our bus to head to the Amaya region to work for 5 days.
We are excited and can hardly wait for the week, and trip to the country!
I can't believe that I have been in Ethiopia for almost two weeks! During my time here in Ethiopia I am again impressed with the resiliance of the Ethiopian people. Their lives are hard, often really hard. Yet, inspite of it all or maybe because of it all they always welcome you with a smile. I am grateful for the individuals that I have met in Ethiopia and the lessons they teach me.
We have been back in Addis for a few days now and we have been busy. The group has been divided up and given assignments each day at the three educationa support centers (Kid's Hope Gullele, Kid's Hope Alemgena, and PATH) and our vocational training center SSCM. Some of us helped with art classes, other volunteers helped witht the medical team as they did medials on the children in our prgram and others provided business traiing to aspiring entrepreneurs. Here are a few pictures of our work.
Demitrios from YTH Gullele
Merkato (Africa's largest outdoor market)
More kids from LiGA School
The last few days have been extremely busy. While working in Gindo the group divided up in to three groups. One group ran an open clinic in Gindo for anyone who wanted to see a doctor or dentist. Volunteers worked alongside local clinic staff as doctors, nurses, pharmacists etc. Many, many people saw a doctor for first tiem in their lives. Here in Ethiopia there is one doctor for every 50,000 people. Another group spent time with the children at the BEKA- Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Center. This center provides educational, nutritional, emotional and sanitation support for 20 children and their families/guardians.
I was with the third group. We were responsible for constructing a fence around a piece of land that was donated to our local project partner by the government. Once the land is fenced, Canadian Humanitarian will work with BEKA to build a education support center. This new center will give us the space to expand out program in Gindo Town to include 50-75 orphaned and vulnerable children. If there is one thing that I learned very quickly while building the fence it is that Ethiopians are tough. Not knowing the prpoportions or technique for mixing cement, we hired some locals to help mix cement while others volunteered hauling it to secure the fence posts.
After 4 days of work, a lot of sweat and a little blood (from the barbed wire) we had a 2 meter high barbed wire fence, a total of 200 meters long. I sure am glad that someone else will be building the BEKA Center.
After a few days in Addis to get over jetlagg, exchange money and work at LiGA School, we travelled to Gindo Town, about 3 hours south west of Addis. During the bus ride down to Gindo the group really started to gel. We have a TON of work to do when we arrive so it is great that everyone is working well together.
Along the way we were able to see the huge contrast between urban and rural Ethiopia. I thought it would be nice to get away from all the traffic in Addis. Little did I know...
The first project we visited is LiGA Primary School. Over 100 children atttend pre-school and kindergarden here. Our goal to help the two physicians and the one dentist do medical and dental check-ups on all the kids. Easier said than done.
Volunteers helped take height and weight of each child. The kids were all quite healthy with only minor interventions needed.
I am finally in Ethiopia. From Calgary we flew to London and from London on to Addis. Yes, the over 24 hours of straight travelling was worth it. The whole team, staff and volunteers are now together. As we drove from the airport to what will operate as home base for the next two weeks, the Weygoss Guest House, this is the scene before me. It is good to be back.
I am off to Ethiopia again. I can't wait to be back in that beautiful country. It has been over a year since I was last there in Oct 2010. The projects have grown and I look forward to seeing all the kids and how they are doing. I am also anxious to meet the volunteers they seem like a pretty committed group.