As for me, I know of nothing else but miracles. - Walt Whitman

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Our Trip to Ethiopia, Day 5

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What an awesome day this was! I awoke this morning at about 6:30 and got ready for the day (even though our room still had no water). We went downstairs and across the courtyard to another building to meet everyone else for breakfast. It was rather interesting trying to figure out what all the different foods were on the buffet; Richard was a little more adventurous than the rest of us. Chris led devotions this morning, and everyone took turns giving their thoughts. We then loaded into the taxi bus and headed to Kisanet Primary School.

The streets of Mekelle:

The gate of Kisanet school:

Our first impressions of Kisanet:

We walked down a hill, and there was the library spread out before us...Kelsi and Tiffany's dream come true! The girls worked so hard on their "Bookin' It to Ethiopia" project, and here was the culmination right in front of us!

The workmen had not quite finished in time, and were still working on the floors and ceilings.

Kelsi and Tiffany standing in the doorway of their library:

The contractors that built the library:

And then.....we met the children. Oh my! There were so many of them, and they appeared from all directions. They stole our hearts immediately! We were like celebrities...the kids crowded around us every chance they got. They loved hugging us, kissing us, shaking our hands, asking our names, and making sure we knew theirs. They adored having their pictures taken. Every time the teachers came near, they would shoo the kiddos away from us, but it didn't take long for them to be right back at our sides. I think the teachers finally sort of gave up expecting any semblance of order to the school day. 

Alem and Tomas. These two boys knew English fairly well, and loved playing with Ashton. They became so special to all of us over the next few days.

It amazed me how happy and friendly these kids were. Most of them were very poor and had shredded uniforms, but it didn't seem to affect their attitudes.

Staci, surrounded:

Teaching "Ring Around the Rosie" to the kiddos. The Kisanet girls taught some of us their dances and games.

Since the workers were finishing up the library, it was decided that we would paint 4 classrooms today instead of the library walls. We got to work removing posters and chalkboards off the walls of two different classrooms, which were very dusty and dirty. The floors were packed earth with rocks all over...I tripped several times and tried to imagine what people would have to say if there were such conditions in American schools.

We began painting the dusty walls. After awhile, some of the Ethiopian workers came in and told us that we could not just use straight paint on the walls...we had to mix it with water to make the paint go further. This made sense, as they're used to saving as much money as they can, so we dutifully mixed the paint with water. The new thinned paint splattered all over the place, and most of us were soon covered in yellow "freckles."

This photo is of the "steps" leading up to the door of a classroom.

Weldie and Ashton. Weldie is the medical student who took Tom to Thailand for his surgery. He also works part-time for AGCI and teaches English in the evenings. He is an all-around awesome guy, and wants to come to America to start his medical practice. 

Kels and Tiff with some of the teachers:

The people here were so amazed by our paint rollers! They normally just use paintbrushes, which make for slow progress. Some of the teachers and other workers showed up to try their hand at paint-rolling.

Mid-morning, we were asked to take a break and attend a coffee ceremony that the women had prepared. It was the best coffee I have ever tasted.

The woman in the white shirt is the Vice Director of the school. She told me that there are 1363 children that attend school at Kisanet. There are 34 teachers and 25 class sections from K-8th grade.

The Vice Director, Yohannes (who works for AGCI and is originally from Mekelle), and Chris:

Mathewos, the director of HH in Addis, takes a buna break:

Almost done!

Putting a room back together.

We ate a lunch of pizza, which Kiersten and some of the guys picked up.

After lunch, some of the kiddos crowded in around us again.

They decided to show us some of their gymnastic moves.

So Richard decided to join them.

Then it was back to work painting 2 more rooms. Several of the kiddos escaped from their teachers over and over again to help us paint, and I was so worried that they would get paint all over their uniforms. Finally, the Ethiopian painter that was helping us tried locking them out, so instead they peered in the windows. Some of them laid on the ground to watch us from under the door, all the while reaching in to touch our feet and yell, "Good morning!" even though it was afternoon!

We brought some soccer balls in our tubs of donations, but had left them at the hotel. The kids were thrilled when we told them that we would bring balls tomorrow...they kept reminding us over and over to bring them. They have no balls here...they play with rocks, which are everywhere! The kids also did some amazing flips for us...they hooked their arms around the bars, kicked off with their feet, and went round and round, faster and faster each time. Then Yohannes tried it and got stuck!

In the late afternoon, I went back to check out the progress being made on the library. It looked great!

When we were finishing up our job for the day, Chris left with Kiersten and some of the men to buy the paint that we will need for the library tomorrow. The rest of us gathered our supplies, put them in the director's office for the night, and headed back to the hotel. We still had no water in our room, and I was covered from head to toe in paint, so we switched to a different room across the hall from Chris's. And lo and behold, the water worked! Even though it was very cold, it felt wonderful after a hot and sweaty day. 

We met back downstairs and then walked to a tibs house for dinner. 

Ethiopian-style construction:

This is where our tibs came from! Tibs are small pieces of meat that are absolutely delicious.

Yohannes, Weldie, and Chris:


 After dinner, we walked to a coffee house and had some more awesome buna.

Staci and Kelsi decided that they want to move to Ethiopia. Their dad wasn't too sure about the idea.

We walked back to the hotel. We saw a man urinating on the street (which is common here), and Uncle Les said he was just using the "big outhouse." Yohannes thought it was hilarious and laughed and laughed.

Some of us ordered dessert back in the hotel restaurant. Chris and I shared a crepe flambe, which was amazing. Afterward, we went to Uncle Les's room to sort through the tubs of donations we had brought from Addis, and then went to bed. Tomorrow we will work on the library!

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