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Archive for the ‘Ethiopia’ Category

Day Two

Today we drove from Debre Berhan to Dessie.  We left at 7:00 a.m., and it took five hours.  Because a tunnel on the road was under repair, we had to take a very narrow road up the side of a mountain.  Not fun!

Dessie is a city of 170,000 inhabitants.  It is in a woreda, or administrative district, of 400,000 inhabitants.  The number of school-aged children in the woreda is 50,000.

When I first visited the city three years ago, only one school offered the 11th and 12th grades.  This was a major problem.  There wasn’t enough room for all of the children who wanted to graduate from high school and pursue higher education.

That’s why Bill Doty, working through CNEWA, decided to expand a Catholic high school called Kidane Mehret.  We built three new buildings to house four 11th and 12th grade classrooms, a science lab, a computer room, a library and office for teachers.  Construction started in 2008.  Now the buildings are fully operational and the classrooms are full.

As I mentioned yesterday, Bill is in Ethiopia with me.  This is the first time he has seen the fruits of his charity.

We had an incredible ceremony with all the students, their parents, government officials and the Capuchin priests who run the school.  The Capuchin provincial gave a wonderful speech.  Bill asked the children to raise their hands and pledge to be good students and good citizens and to put their schools to good use.  It was very moving.  Then, he cut an inaugural ribbon and we toured the school.

The visit ended, as it always does when I got to Kidane Mehret, with a soccer game with the kids.  Bill played on one team and I played on the other.  The score was tied 1-1 when we went into overtime.  Bill’s team won.

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I’m in Ethiopia!

We arrived this morning in Addis Ababa.  After taking a little break and eating something, we hit the road.

Tomorrow, we will see a Catholic school in the city of Dessie that was expanded with the support our benefactor Bill Doty.  Bill here is in Ethiopia with me.  Because of his support, the school recently added an 11th and 12th grade, which means that graduates can apply to a university or vocational school and continue their studies after high school.

At the moment, we are in the city of Debre Berhan.  It is a ten-hour drive from Addis Ababa to Dessie, so we are spending the night along the way.  The city is just small stores and homes made of corrugated metal.  It is dinnertime and dark now.

We are all very tired from the trip, but tomorrow is a big day and we are all very excited.  Bill will get to see how his money was put to work in Dessie and there will be a celebration.

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Child in Africa,

Gabriel bonds with a child. Africa, 2009.

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I can’t wait to go home–Beatrice is already there, getting ready for our party tonight! And I know the commute will be a little insane with today’s unexpected snow storm!

A Time Magazine article I read this week got me thinking.  “The Worst Decade”–that’s what they claim 2000-2009 is. Apparently, we’re more disillusioned now that ever. Wars, refugees, natural disasters…

They do have a point–we entered and exited this decade in a recession. And it seems like the weather is against us these days–doesn’t it?

But wonderful things have happened for me in the last decade. My son was born in 2000. I moved to the United States with my family and I love living here. Even the last year hasn’t been all bad.

Twice this year, I was able to travel to Ethiopia to see the child I’m sponsoring through our program at work. Her name is Haymanot; she’s so lovely! I feel inspired by her optimism in the face of great obstacles. Here is a slideshow from my trip in March, 2009: slideshow.

I’m inspired, too, by the donors of CNEWA. As I mentioned in our year-end newsletter, I was prepared for the worst in 2009. But the donors’ generosity exceeded our goals! There is still a lot to do in the countries we serve. But we are still alive and kicking and willing to light more candles instead of cursing the darkness. I’m going into 2010 optimistic. And, provided the traffic isn’t terrible, I’ll start that celebration soon!

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