Now it is school holiday time for the children. We have holiday time activities including a newspaper being developed by the children, who will inform us of how many litres of milk have been sold, do staff interviews, tells us who has travel where for what and learn simple journalist skills!
The new school year will bring about more changes for us – grades 1 through 2 and grades 3-4 will continue as before; however grades 5-8 will be done through distance learning. This has been approved by the local education authority and due to the size of our classes being together with their friends in a class of nine even though different levels with be more conducive to learning.
We plan to integrate blind children into our Grade 1 class and Teacher Mengesha is currently learning how to teach blind children and learning Braille reading and writing. We have assessed the area and there is nothing available for the blind in the immediate area. So due to the size of our school and classes we are easily able to incorporate such a plan.
Since last sending out our Splash we have added one more little boy aged nine months. His mother had died and his father is in prison. A little darling called Temesgen (May He be praised), he stayed briefly with Karin and while Karin’s mother was here along with Karin’s cousin they cared for him. They also helped Ruth in caring for Lukas who needed night feeds. Both these babies have been transferred into the village family.
The Big Sisters / Brother
Tsega we already knew could manage caring for children, the others we were not so sure but we thought it would be worthwhile trying. A childcare manual was drafted and translated into Tigrinha and Ato Mehari our health coordinator started classes with these older teen daughters of the village. Now Rehwa, Gidey, Martha and Tsega and Awash the only male (caring for four boys) are doing well. We have daily workers coming in to help the Big Siblings with the work load especially as we had to increase their workload after Alemnish decided to leave us. (See below)
In the midst of this transition when we had five houses all doing well, when we had a situation whereby we had to exclude one of our teenagers, his sister Alemnish, who had been selected to lead a house decided to go and provide a home for him. We offered her a daily job in laundry. We see her every day and that is good!
The community care activities has been increased due to the government edict mentioning the value of family reunifications whenever possible; so as we were able to locate parents of two of our other children, and they have now returned to live their parents and will be followed through the community care project. The Women’s Affairs Ministry edict means we will try as much as possible working alongside the Social Affairs Offices, to keep children close to their place of origin and extended family. Where this is impossible or where family cannot care for the child, they will be admitted to Grace Village.
We are pleased to note several new sponsors coming from US and Australia for the community orphan projects. We would like to increase the sponsorship for the children in Kelakil where the unknown liver disease decimated so many fathers, mothers and in some cases both. We have intimated to the Social Affairs of Tahtay Koraro that once we have the sponsors for these children we will let them know.
Refugee Child Protection
The number continue to increase, we have been given a tin shed shelter that has been divided into ten rooms where the floor is lined mattresses and the teenage lads sleep two to a mattresses twenty to a room. Tents were supplies but given the very stormy weather and the fact that even tin roves have flown off houses, these are judged unsafe. We now await the government agency responsible to build more shelters to house the new incoming unaccompanied minors.
Given this rapid increase of incoming refugee children, our workload has increased exponentially, there was no way our lone great worker could handle all this. Last Splash we mentioned Semhar to whom we have given 1,000 children living with their direct, extended or foster families. She has started well and we have engaged two holiday time university students to help her record each child’s social status.
We have also developed a minimum package for every 600 unaccompanied minor refugee children, where there will be one Child Protection Officer in charge, working with the refugee incentive workers, for this we have employed Sintayehu and Elsa both holding 1st degrees; drama and psychology respectively. The one will help develop art skills in the camp and the other assist with the troubled children as well as monitor their eventual 600 children.
Maternal Health and Gender Awareness
Mehari is carrying out training session in Asgede Tsimbla a Woreda that is to the west of us with many very vulnerable areas, where early marriage remains a problem and maternal health coverage is very rudimentary. It is a little better than Tselemti Woreda but all these area are very remote and inaccessible especially during the rainy season, hence the problem. The use of delivery kits is much appreciated though, the refresher courses given, the gender awareness campaigns have brought much to light and is helping guides us to the way forward.
Our children as a whole are well, some malaria and cough and colds. Our Berhane, fourteen year husky lad developed right flank pain which was rapidly diagnosed by Mehari our health coordinator as appendicitis, he was taken to hospital and after a few anxious days wait he was eventually operated on and he is now home and doing very well. Two of our girls have had appointments and will have surgery this month at the Cure Hospital in Addis Ababa. Rehwa will have lengthening of the left Achilles tendon to straighten her foot, and Hewan will have revision of her arm stump, we hope to be able to provide her with an artificial arm at some point. Our Berihu needs his second ear operated on so he too will go to Addis Ababa to and see if the surgeon is back from abroad and he can be operated on. Eden needs surgery for her eye but the waiting list is long, so we wait.
The rains have come with a rush, the lock to the lake is opened and the water is filling this up. The fields have taken a soaking, the Emnet Cooperative run by our bigger lads is working away, corn is in, zucchini is goring and being sold, the animal fodder is growing. Fruit trees have been planted and this year we have added coffee trees to our trees with a few well placed (away from fruit trees) eucalyptus trees as wind breaks along areas of excessive wind.
Sadly the man employed to help the lads with their project has not been well and then has simply not turned up to work! So we have had to release him. Our faithful Gebre Mehdin is still here and happy to help the lads so we are all set!
The women have now rented two more small huts, one is for stool making and one for a tea shop as Kelakil has nothing like that. The women have started now to sell their crafts and merchandise and you can sense the satisfaction of money earned instead of just another handout!
These last two months we have had a donor who helped with the multipurpose hall, who has given both Karin and Ruth computers, and has helped in many ways here in the village these last two weeks. Thank you Laura Bobrowski!
It is our pleasure to be the hands that help, it is our great team who provide the fingers that reach out and touch and you dear friends around the world stretch your arm across the miles with your generous donations, your packages, your kind words, your sponsorship contributions, your cards to the children, your letters of encouragement. We are richly blessed and thank God for each and every one of you!
Thank you for caring! God bless you all,
Karin v /d Bosch & Ruth C. Kennedy