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Thursday, December 23, 2010

I realized how careful and frugal they are ...

"We would like to have a special meal for ALL the children and the staff," I explained to Simret, the director at Trees of Glory.  "With goats and vegetables and injera and fruit ... everything ... a complete meal!"  Her beautiful smile lit up and she rushed off to bring back a calculator and notebook so she could put together a grocery list.  She would need to walk into town that afternoon to purchase all the ingredients so that we could feed over 100 children and about 25 adults the next day.

Simret and Fikre worried over the numbers and I saw Simret pause with concern, and then glance at me.  "What?", I asked.  "Is something wrong?"  Fikre explained, "She's not sure that two goats will be enough."  "Please get FOUR goats then," I replied.  She smiled and bent back over the numbers as I said, "And please make sure to get lots of fruit and vegetables too."  Simret quietly asked a question and I looked at Fikre to interpret.  "She is wondering about Coca-Cola??"  "Oh yes," I laughed.  "We definitely have to have Coca-Cola for ALL the kids!"  Simret blew me a kiss and went back to totaling her numbers.

I watched as she finalized her list and then totaled the numbers and with hesitation she presented me with the bill ... for $221.00.  "This is good,"  I told her, and reassured her that the team was prepared to purchase the entire meal for the kids, because this was such a special occasion!

In hindsight, I look back on this moment with appreciation because I realize how careful and frugal they are with the funding provided by the sponsor families.  Every dime is carefully considered as they stretch the funds to provide as much as they can for the children in their care.

When we arrived the next day, the kitchen was taking shape (our construction team had been working for a few days to build a kitchen, along with replacing several tin roofs, windows, light fixtures and door locks and painting several building interiors in preparation for a dormitory). 

This was the original kitchen structure.  Our construction team expanded the kitchen
by constructing an addition on the existing concrete pad.

As soon as the tin roof went over the "kitchen" the cooks moved into the shade and meal preparations began in earnest.

We watched in fascination as they made the injera.  Pouring a thin stream of batter from the pitcher, covering it with the lid until it started to bubble, and then carefully lifting the edge to slide a woven mat beneath it to lift it off the injera pan. 

This selfless and dedicated woman stood inside a hot, smoky, enclosed building all morning, wiping her sweating forehead on her shoulder, and smiling brilliantly as we watched in fascination.  She made hundreds of injera "pancakes" that day, rolling them into large napkin-size servings that the children would use to scoop the delicious stew that was boiling in a kettle nearby.

Several of the older children helped carry the large platters of food into the classroom, where over 100 children were sitting quietly and waiting patiently.  The teachers then helped to serve the kids, making sure they had seconds and even third helpings if they wanted.

One of the big jugs that are used to collect and carry water was placed outside the door - and the kids washed their hands at the spigot before and after they ate.  At the moment, there is no working well at Trees of Glory, and the big jugs of water are carried on the backs of donkeys every day so that they have water at the care-point.  Care-point staff members walk to town and carry the water back each day.  (We will be fund-raising for a well at Trees of Glory as soon as the survey and budget requirements are finalized.)

Simret (left) is the director of the care-point and Girma (right) is the manager. 
Simret is not married and dedicates her entire life to the love and care of
these children.  Girma is married and has one daughter.  Simret and
Girma both live at the care-point and they each have a small 10x10
room in one of the buildings.

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