Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday

Another great day in Ethiopia!!!  We visited "Kind Heart", south of Addis and spent time with children (ages 4-6) at a pre-kindergarten school for extremely destitute kids.  There were 56 kids there within a large compound in a farming community.  As soon as we started interacting with the kids, we could tell they were very hungry and had no energy.  The school teaches a pre-K curriculum and takes care of the children while their parent or parents are working (day laborers).  The children are among the neediest in the area and the school is able to feed them one meal of rice on Wednesdays (ONE meal, ONE day a week).  Otherwise, they have to bring a lunch and for many, that is not possible and they go hungry.  Again, at this location, many children were chewing on grass to have something in their bellies.

Several from our group went into town and bought 17 kilos of rice along with oil, seasoning, onions and bananas.  We just could not bear the thought of playing actively with them when they were so weak from hunger.  As we spoke to the director, he explained their number one need is FOOD!  So basic, so simple, so plentiful in the USA - and the number one need here.  As soon as the food arrived from the market, a cook sprang into action over an open fire and the children were fed a nutritional and flavorful meal!!

I was very impressed with the potential at this location.  Their director is very well organized and well connected, they just simply lack funding.  They have ample land in which to farm small plots for tef, and they have plans to use the land to fatten cattle, plant seedlings to sell to local farmers,and a chicken coop for eggs and chicken meat.  They want to expand to provide education for more school grades and they have a vision to teach destitute women and widows a micro-business.  They currently help 56 children but they have space for double that amount.  They also have a building on their land that used to be a vocational school for woodworking.  The equipment (saws, routers, clamps, etc.) is all standing idle in the building but could be put to good use with a little training.  A lot of opportunities here to make a big impact with a sponsorship program and program to develop income and self-sufficiency.

We are in the coffee capital of the world, and today we finally had a chance to stop at an outdoor cafe and enjoy an incredibly delicious machiatto.  We also stopped and purchased bags of coffee beans to bring home!

From there, we stopped at the AWAA transition home to see Duni, Furtuna, Robel and the nannies.  The TH looks fantastic and they have implemented a lot of hygiene rules that will help stop the spread of illnesses.  They have 90 children at the home right now!!!!  Several of the nannies recognized me and came up to ask "Dagum mommy?" or "Tariku mommy?" (the boys' ethiopian names).  They remembered the boys well and loved to see pictures.  The school teacher asked if she could keep one of Jayden and she kept kissing it.  I finally got to meet Duni face to face.  To everyone who has children at the TH - know that the nannies are loving them and taking wonderful care of them and they look healthy and happy!

Tonight - coffee ceremony at the guest home and then we will de-brief as a group and make some decisions about sponsorship coordinators for each location.

I'll try to post pictures from today a little later tonight.

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