Friday, July 31, 2009

Final day of the road trip.

On the return drive from Lalibela a small boy ran up to our car to get us to stop. We were traveling with 3 locals, one being the driver so we had no problem with language, this boy of maybe 8 or 9 wanted a ride anywhere away from the country side he lived in. He had money and was willing to pay us to take him to a city or where ever we were going. He wanted a chance at an education and a better life. These villages or should I say small groups of huts are very remote, all be them many, and have no facilities. The people walk, who knows how many miles, to get water and supplies, and we only saw a hand full schools. Most of the children are shepherds or farmers. In fact, currently Muday has a 15 year old boy staying with her who did just what this young boy was trying to do. He left his life in the country, where he farmed, (and not with the farming tools and machines we know) and his family to live in the city to attend school. In exchange for a place to stay, he helps out at Fresh and Green Academy.
This country is in need of so much and I really think we should all support the organizations that bring water and education to the remote areas of the world. I have seen the need first hand. (Mmmm, maybe there is another project in my future) We did see some wells that had been obviously recently built by NGOs, but so many more are needed. The country side is so vast but so heavily populated and most just live off the land and if the land does not produce the people suffer greatly.

The children we saw often on the side of the roads with their animals or just walking and playing, always waved at the car as soon as they saw us coming. I am guessing that not too many automobiles travel through there. (the roads are terrible) The kids would also run to us saying "Highlander!", which is the name of a bottled water. They know that if someone is driving through they must have bottled water, and they were happy to get our empty bottles although I am sure they would have preferred a full one. We also gave out most of the food we had with us and they we all very appreciative.
I am so thankful to be fortunate enough to experience all that I have. I am constantly learning and having my eyes opened. The more this happens the more my heart is opened, though it does pain me often that I can not do more. But like I have said before if we all just do a tiny bit to help others and our world we will have a huge impact.
Tanks for reading.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Road Trip continued

Yesterday we traveled very far across Ethiopia. The land is so diverse. Up oneside down the other. Cold up top warm down below. We stoped on what felt like the top of the world, because the roads are so bad we must constantly check for flats (so far only 2) Some children came out to see what was going on and they just stood and stared. When we approached them they backed away. Usually children who see us are very friendly, I guess these particular children were not used to strange faces. We did give them sugar cane to break the ice only long enough to get some pictures. As we were leaving a woman approached us to say she needed a doctor. She was pregnant and had been so for over 10 months, she said she had had still births in the past. My heart was broken for there was nothing we could do but drive away the nearest hospital was days away and we were not going in that direction. How I wished I or someone with us was a doctor. This was my first big cry of the trip.

We did get to the churches at Lalibela and it was amazing. We were able to stay in a brand new hotel with flushing toilets and hot water ( would not have wanted to go near the shower at the first hotel even if the water was hot)

Had a great dinner of soup and grilled cheese. Even met some American tourists, very rare.
We awoke early this morning had a hot shower and headed back to the churches with our great guide. Today was the day of the cross so all the priests gathered to chant and dance at various churches. It was quite moving and I was brought to tears more than once.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ethiopia July 09

Ethiopia July 2009

Arrived on Sunday morning after traveling for 2 days to get here.  We left on Friday evening and then had a 12 hour connection time in Brussells Belgium.  We had to go that route because my mother is traveling with me and she does not get a discount on KLM which would have only given us 3 hours between flights.  We were able to spend the day in Brussells,  and got here at 6am local, Muday and Atenah were at the airport waiting.  It is always so wondeful to see them when we first arrrive.  We had a nap and then went to Salem's, Mudays cousin, house for coffee.  They are always so hospitable.  I must explain a bit about having coffee in Ethiopia.  It is quite special to be invited to someones home for coffee.  The coffee ceremony is an Ethiopian tradition and consists of food, in our case dinner, you must eat before you drink coffee, and the making of the coffee.  Being that Ethiopia is the birth place coffee, the preparation is quite elaborate.  The coffee must first be roasted over a small fire, then the beans are ground by hand while the water is boiling over that same small fire, which by the way usually has some incence burning in it as well.  The coffee is then added straight to the boiling water which is in a beautiful clay pot, and then poured into small cups with sugar in them.  We usally have about 3 cups each.  I take coffe home with me and try to add it to straight to the hot water but is some how is not the same.  Maybe drinking it with my Ethiopian friends just makes it taste better.

Things at the school are going relativly well.  The kids had their kindergarten graduation last week and were many people were there to enjoy the festivites.  The kids got their diplomas and report cards, did some traditional dancing and some dialogue in Engligh for all who attended.  There is a Saturday afternoon group of teenagers that Muday teaches values, morals and ethics to, who preformed as well.  The whole ceremony was video taped so we were able to see what we missed.  Their parents were so pruod and thankful to Muday and all the teachers for giving their children a chance at an education and better life.  

I am lying here awake at 4am listening to the rain. I can not stop thinking about all the children and their families sleeping in their home with roofs that leak, no electricity and not enough blankets to keep them warm.  I think of everything that needs to be accomplished
We stand to raise up to $60,000.00 from a festival we will be participating in this September.  I thought that would be the answer all of our needs.  

I will explain:

The school building and land is only rented.  The owner has quite a large area and rents to other businesses as well.  Muday has been operating in this space for almost nine years.  As recently as 6 months ago the space close to the school was rented by a brick maker.  The equipment used to make the bricks is quite loud nad when a government official was doing one of the many checks it does on the school he heard the noise and told Muday she can not operate a school next to the disturbance.  Muday relayed this information to the landlord and she was told that the she did not care who was there as long as she got her money, but she would not tell the brick maker to leave with no one to replace his rent and if the school had to move that was fine too, she would rent to someone else.  So we were able to talk the landlord into letting us rent the space and the brick maker was told about the government policy but for him to leave before his contract is up he wants $500.00.  The government says he must be gone by September but the contract is up in May.  Delimma number 1.

The government also does not alow upper grades (1st on) to be in the same building as the kindergarten and pre-K.  The school had first grade for this past school year so when the kids could continue to eat.  (Free education 1st-10th grade but no food available)  We are planning to add a grade every year so we can keep the current students fed and educated.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity.  We now have extra rented space to build a new building and we will have enough money to do this.  Problem is we don't want to build something nice because it is rented and it could be taken away or the rent raised.  We need to stay in the neighborhood because the children severd are here and we dont want to abandon them and the other problem is we do want to build something nice, with electricity and possibly plumbing.  There could be a solution:  The land and building right next to the school are for sale. For $50,000.00.  There goes all the money whe thought we would have to build a new building and run the school for a year without worries and invest for the future of the school.  If we could raise $100,000.00 we could be set for the time being.  Delimma number 2.

I have 3 more hours I can sleep but it has stopped raining and the dogs are now baeking and the religious chanting over the loud speaker has begun.  We will see.  Thank you ear plugs Good night!

Trish Hack-Rubinstein

President & Co Founder
Friends Of Fresh and Green Academy  

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Leaving tomorrow

We are leaving tomorrow for Ethiopia and I am far more optimistic! While we still don't have enough money to cover all the costs this month, I have received some very good news. We are going to be an official charity in the Eathdance Austin Festival! We stand to benefit greatly from this blessing from the Universe. Our future is looking bright, thanks to all of the wonderful people who believe that we really can make a difference.