I cant believe we are now half way through our time in this wonderful country of Ethiopia and town of Mekelle. We feel we have been here a long time in some respects but it also feels as if the time is going quickly. This week we have become more adventurous and will go out in the town every day on our own, without either Sr Marena and Sr Wubeyu. They are great fun and love their trips with us so we still do the occasional errand. When we came back from a difficult morning yesterday visiting families of some of the students in the project we went for coffee with Marena. It was naturally emotional to see their circumstances. The families do really have to be the poorest of the poor to get accepted on the Programme. They were all women led households. One of the men had died of ill health resulting in the family descending into poverty. The second died while working on a building . He was a carpenter. The third died of HIV/AIDS and his wife was positive.
We are getting a bit more used to being stared at everywhere we go! Little children shout ‘faranji’ which means foreigner. Paula is good at making sure we don’t get charged ‘faranji’ prices! We are now much more familiar with the geography of the town, the animals on the road and the street sellers. I had my shoes cleaned this week . Young boys are all along the streets trying to get business. Weighing scales are the other main way the young boys make their ‘birr’. Yesterday Paula and I decided to go the he Johannes Museum…the original Palace of Johannes…and the impressive Monument at the other end of town, dedicated to the freedom fighters who freed Ethiopia from a very painful period in their history, the ‘Derg’, the Communist period. On the way we bumped in to ‘Dani’ one of the older boys on the project. He is a great success story of the project and an indication of the transformation that goes on through the work of the Daughters of Charity here. He was found on the streets as a very young boy and spent time living on the project. He is at school and hoping to pass his 10th grade. He has attended the Summer programme that we are involved in for several years now. He shares a small rented home with a few other youngsters. Anyway Dani escorted us to the Museum and then up the long hill to the monument. It began to rain and it really does rain here! We stopped on the way as one of the girls in my class Sesen was selling ‘belas’ prickly fruit. We bought some and began running to get shelter in the lodge of the monument. It stopped enough to climb the endless steps to see the enormous structure with 4 main ‘feet’ and a gold ball at the top. There are also some wonderful sculptures of people and then down more steps to a new visitor centre where we had a personal guide. Exhibits are mainly photographs. The guide was very proud to tell us of the struggle. When we emerged the rain had begun again. It is now Sunday and it has continued to rain since even through the night, but this is unusual, it has been very sunny with occasional burst most days. So we started the walk back and were getting really soaked when Dani decided we should get a ‘taxi’. They are called ‘bajaj’. Basically they are scooters with a roof and a little seat. Despite my responsibilty for first aid and security I made an instant decision that we should get in! Happily we arrived back at the Convent safely.
The teaching this week was Manchester/Mekelle mainly! Thanks Angela (Taylor) for Manchester in a bag! Was great with the map for directions! Thanks Bernie for suggestions on how to maximise use of parachute with different games.
So we begin a new week. Please keep us in your prayers that it will be a good one and our efforts will be right for the children. We will be preparing them for an excursion next Saturday which we are sponsoring. We will be going to Africas highest Hydro Electric Dam. About 3 hours drive away. Should be fun! I think of everyone while Im here and feel happy that you are praying and that i am keeping you all with me in my heart.
Mary and all here.xxxxx