Friday, November 13, 2009

Back From Ethiopia!

I made it back from yet another, heart wrenching, heart warming and inspiring trip. A colleague of mine from Italy joined me for part of the trip and I do hope the experience of Fresh and Green Academy was as special for him as it always is for me.
We took a 2 day trip into the country side to see a national park and some animals we don't see in the city of Addis Ababa. It is also so interesting to see the people who live in other parts of Ethiopia. They have very hard lives and many are trying to get to the big city of opportunity, Addis. The children we encountered way out in the country all asked for pens to do their school work, not money. Wow!

I was able to get to know some of the mothers and children better this trip. I got a brief history of all the students and interviewed 5 of the mothers/care takers. I did that the last day of the trip and it really affected me, their stories broke my heart. At least 2 of our students are products of rape, many are abused and some have had both parents die. One of the siblings of our students was "given away"to work as a maid for a wealthy older woman who makes her living as a fortune teller. Her mother could not take care of her properly so she felt this would give her a better life. The girl lived in a proper home and had daily meals, but she also was abused. and has the scars to show for it. The mother found out but could not get her out of the home right away. Finally after a year of abuse the police stepped in and removed the girl from the home. She now lives with her mother and 3 siblings in a small room with dirt floors, attends the government school and does not eat regularly, but at least she is not being abused.

I also found out that children (hopefully not ours), inhale gasoline to curb their hunger.
Muday told me she over heard one of the children talking to her friend about how hungry she was a night but did not want to ask her mother for food because she knew they had no money. This from a 5 year old.
We are hoping to add a third meal very soon. We would like to have the students stay until 5:00pm and maybe provide music, sport, art or more English classes between 3pm and 5pm, give them another a meal and then send them home.

The school really is doing well though. We have rented an extra space to build an addition for the new upper grades and Muday got a Government loan to start it. We will need to raise more money to complete it but we are on our way!

I really miss the kids and look forward to seeing them in April! Care to join me?