Friday, February 18, 2011

Ethiopia: From Nazret to Addis, Part 1

TMy last day at the English Alive Academy. I wanted to say goodbye at both campuses. Stephanie, Dawit, and I tooled to the Grade 1-4 campus in their cute blue minivan. I said thank you and goodbye to each teacher and administrator --Adenech, Eshet, Chibarey, Lema, Helina, Birkutan, and Bekolech. I received many child hugs and kisses and "I love yous!"

Bogalech, English Alive Academy
This morning, I saw that the creation of the "computer room" via the insertion of a new wall in the grade 2 classroom was almost complete. (It was started yesterday.)

[It's really pretty amazing what Stephanie and Dawit have created and maintained for the past five years. The maintenance of such an ambitious endeavor as this school being remarkable in itself.]

Next week, the grade school's two computers (one bought used and one donated by a previous volunteer teacher, Frazier) should be up and running.

Back to the present - Dawit became involved in the partition completion, and as the morning began sliding away from us, Stephanie and I walked to the KG campus.

Eshetu, English Alive Academy
More bittersweet goodbyes to the teachers and other staff there - Mekdes, Seble, Freiwot, Sennot, Membre, Kidust, Belynesh, and (I'm forgetting one of the teachers). I felt touched when the teachers said they wanted to have a coffee ceremony for me, and sad that I didn't have time to do so, as I needed to get to the immigration office in Addis before it closed today, to extend my visa.

When I told Sennot (KG2 teacher that my next visits would be to Awassa and the Bale Mountains, she said her hometown was in the Bale Mountains, and how beautiful it is there.

With no sign of Dawit joining us, Stephanie and I walked to Azeb's to finish pulling our gear together for the drive to Addis. We piddled about, still awaiting Dawit, who phoned three times to say he was "on his way". An hour or so later... Well, it had turned out that a very difficult administrative problem had manifested itself, which required Dawit's immediate, full attention, and which will require additional action in the coming days.

Helina, English Alive Academy
At any rate, once Dawit arrived, we all moved quickly -- and Azeb decided to join us on the trip to Addis. I was very happy about this, as I knew she wanted to spend more time with her visiting brother and other family members this weekend, but she had originally thought the partition wouldn't go up til Saturday, and she'd have to stay and oversee that operation. (Azeb, like Stephanie and Dawit, receives NO financial compensation - other than food money from volunteer teachers - for all the work she does at and for the school. I'm hoping that with the realistic student sponsorship amount, at least Stephanie and Dawit will, in the near future, actually get paid for the work they do. Currently, they worry every month about meeting payroll, and it is not uncommon for Dawit to make a trip to the bank to withdraw funds from their meager personal account to pay the teachers' salaries.)

Chibarey, English Alive Academy
So we all piled in the vehicle and were on our way. In Debre Zeit, we stopped at the Genesis Farm market and bought yogurt and cheese (delicious!). We stopped at the Ankober Guest House long enough for me to drop my luggage, and then they dropped me off at the Immigration compound so I could extend my visa. This was a huge help to me, and I didn't have to trouble about finding my way there on my own.

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