Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day 5

While not nearly as emotional as yesterday, it was still an event filled, and touching day. Lots of kids, lots of needs.

Our first visit was to an orphanage in Woliso, two hours south of Addis Ababa. It was founded by a man named Job, who became inspired after meeting two small children in a church whose mother could not care for them. He petitioned the government for some land, and has accumulated funding over the years to build a primary building consisting of a kitchen, dining room, and dormitories, a church, an office/library, a bathroom facility, a water tank, and several other smaller structures. The dormitories have multiple bunk beds, each with a mosquito net to protect the kids from malaria. Unfortunately, many of the nets are torn, providing little protection. The church is open to the community, and is called Emmanuel Baptist Church. Job is very resourceful, and although the orphanage does not have a steady income, he has managed to continue to provide a refuge for these children who have lost both of their parents. The staff is paid only when money comes in, and the local pharmacy runs a tab for him for any medicine the kids need.

While the orphanage is at capacity, and has had to turn children away, in recent months, three infants have been abandoned at his orphanage. At least one of them was left outside the gate to his compound. Since they typically don’t have the resources to care for infants, Job had to scramble to provide the care for these babies. They don’t have formula, didn’t have cribs, and needed to hire someone to specifically care for them.

The highlight of the visit was hearing the kids sing several songs for us. I recorded them, so will try to upload the video when I get back to the U.S. We also had fun playing volleyball and soccer with the kids. (The three boys I was kicking the ball with had some amazing moves!)

As has been done with the other orphanages, our group pooled almost $900 for food. Children’s Hopechest will purchase the food and deliver it later.

The second visit was to a school geared towards helping kids who have lost at least one of their parents, or are living in extreme poverty. Currently run completely by volunteers, including a reporter for the local television station and an executive for Ethiopian Airlines, they provide uniforms, school supplies, tuition (even the government schools here have tuition), and tutoring for the kids. During the summer, they train the kids on the computer. Currently these activities are performed in a government school (the classroom we were in did not have working lights, had a rudimentary chalkboard, and was filthy).

The volunteers have a grand vision of renting a house where they can also provide meals to the children (it’s hard to teach kids when they have an empty stomach), expand their tutoring efforts, and provide ongoing computer training.

Finally, we went to watch some children participate in a soccer practice that is part of a mission to help get kids active and off of the streets. It's organized by Ephrem, a friend of Robel our guide last year for the adoption. (We're having breakfast with Robel tomorrow.) Many of the kids playing soccer know Robel. The kids play soccer on an asphalt square in the middle of Addis Ababa. Ephrem is trying to find a grass field for the soccer. It was fun talking to the kids after practice, but a little intimidating as we were on a public square with all of the other citizenry hanging around. One child came up to me and asked me if I was America, and if I like Obama. After I responded that yes, I do like Obama, he pointed to himself and said, “I like Bush!”

Until tomorrow!

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