The President of Tigray visited us this month. He walked all around the village and met and spoke to the children. We were also honoured to have the Federal Minister of Health to spend time with us and see at close range the work we are doing. We are grateful to the Ethiopian government for their on-going support of our activities. On both occasions the request was that we expand to 'other areas'.
These last two months have seen some children with chicken pox and various infections, cough and colds that are now largely resolved.
School has shown great leaps in progress among the children. The teachers have taken on the valuable role of tutors and are spending more time with the students to prepare them for examinations. They are strengthening the children who have learning disabilities with skills that enable them to better understand the subject matter.
The older students are taking mock examinations in preparation for the big final examinations that will permit them to go on to a higher grade; in the case of the 12th graders they will take their exams that will permit them to move on to University. Needless to say this is a stressful time for them.
Water remains our number one challenge for farming. We have been able to support a local community with repairing their pump that will also enable us to obtain water for the village until the long continuous rains arrive.
We have now sold all the cows and invested that money into savings for the purchase of sheep. We plan to start with seventy five Begait Sheep – long-tailed, short-haired sheep found north and northwest from Shire. These are hardy animals able to survive the conditions of the immediate location. The sheep fold is being prepared.
The local Agricultural College is to send up to ten of their students to 'help' us with grass burning and other activities. We look forward to an on-going excellent relationship with them in the future.
Community Orphans & Vulnerable Children
Self Help Groups are in the pipeline for the community orphans, we have found there is strength in numbers and that the children will be able to work together to help each other and their communities,
We are collaborating with other agencies to highlight the nightmare that is 'human trafficking', sadly this occurs in impoverished countries where hope for rapid financial gain exposes young men and women to travel far away to find work that may or may not be exactly what they are looking for but often morally bad. Encouraging them to struggle through their school takes great persistance and patience.
Elementary School Support (ESS)
Degana School has a new School Director who is not familiar with the ESS project. Our experts have seen him and explained the work. The director told our experts that they opened a separate bank account expressly for this project and the current savings expenditure is Ethiopian Birr 3,000 (US$ 170).
We are hopeful that he will carry this valuable effort forward for the good of the school and the community.
We are working with Health Offices and Health Centres in very remote areas of north-western Tigray Region and this is so worth-while. Health professionals work against all odds to help poor women to monitor pregnancies and assist with deliveries.
We help all mothers… in one area, Tselemti, the Health Office has stated that some four hundred (400) women with prolapsed uteri; it is hard for us to even imagine the dreadful plight of these women who have lived their lives, born their children and are now ostracized simply because their wombs are causing loss of body waste similar to those of women with obstetric fistula.
We would like to help these women too by doing a campaign perhaps twice a year where up to forty could be operated on. We are now working with the Tselemti Maternal Child Health Officer to strengthen the local hospital and fill the gaps with a view to help in this area.
Assembly / Dissemination of CDK
Ato (Mr.) Mehari has disseminated over one thousand Clean Delivery Kits and Sr. Letish has been very busy assembling them with help of one of our vulnerable women who assists her in the afternoons.
This has amazing potential for the future and the Health Bureau Head who visited us with the Minister of Health, was interested in the use of these for the whole region. We explained that for now we will distribute them in Northwestern Zone only, but maybe later we can expand further.
We are deeply grateful to Australian AID and the
Simple Delivery Kit Foundation who have made this possible now for the second year running!
Women with Childbirth Injuries
Our resident cooks, baby sitters and cleaners attend school in the afternoon, they are in third grade and able to read relatively well; this has led to a more positive outlook on life in general and happier staff too.
Our former obstetric fistula women are doing so well and happy to work, attend school and be part of the Grace Village all at the same time.
There are a number of agencies that are busy identifying obsteric fistula around the area making our job much lighter. This is a great initiative on the part of the non-governmental agencies. Initially Abraham's Oasis was the only organisation helping these women in this area and now there are others helping in this important work!
Gender Based Violence Awareness
Working with women throughout the area has led us to meet women who have suffered untold trauma. But how to choose who to help and for how long; and how to leave an advisor in these remote communities to help when we cannot be present concerned us deeply.
Berihu, the psychologist has made a plan to train Community Based Counsellors in June, women from eight Woredas will come and be taught how to counsel and who to counsel. This is new territory for us and indeed in Ethiopia, so we are treading slowly and carefully.
Thank you for all you send in packages, in donations, in child support, in encouragement, in books, in clothing, in blankets, in time, in visits and your loving care for orphans and vulnerable children and women in northwestern zone of Tigray, Ethiopia!
Triplets have just arrived... Tigiste (yellow bonnet), Tabitha white bonnet) [females] and Timothy, the only male...
God bless you all!
Karin van den Bosch &
Ruth C. Kennedy