Dear Family, Friends and Supporters!
Three months have passed since my last report, three very busy months that I will try my very best to narrate to you.
The beginning of 2014 brought the opportunity for Yawenta to receive a lot of new equipment in response to our request made in December, which was answered by our supporters in France, Italy and Germany. Thanks to everyone’s efforts, we received school supplies such as pencils, crayons, markers, rulers etc., as well as clothes, hygiene and medical supplies, and some games and toys. All these little things are of a great help because they not only allow us to avoid expenses, but also to equip our classrooms with essential objects that we did not have, or had in too small quantities. Now our children are equipped with rulers, triangles, pens etc., and the art classes have been diversified with the arrival of water colours and other materials; in short, this initiative was a success, and we hope to renew it next year.
From January to April, the secretary of Yawenta France visited; as during his previous visit, he greatly invested his time and energy in the school. He particularly used his skills as an electrician to redo and secure the electrical circuits of the school. He did not hesitate to replace the cook during her wedding leave, meeting the challenge of preparing food for about 80 children every day! His presence was also essential in the preparation of school events, planning and gardening, and many other small jobs that we could not have achieved without his physical and material assistance. Thank you for all the efforts!
On January 30, we held an “All Children’s Day”, as a way to celebrate all the children’s birthdays at the same time, those of the few who know their date of birth and those of the many children who don’t know it. After lunch, all the children gathered in the Grade 2 classroom, and each hooked his or her gift with a fishing rod. Thanks to donations from France and Italy, everyone received a small gift: balloons, lollipops, toy cars and planes, and dolls were all received happily, accompanied by cake, juice, music, and pictures from a
projector. It was an unforgettable and cheerful day at Yawenta, both for the children and the staff; everyone was happy and motivated to make it an annual event.
Two weeks later we handed over the report cards for the first semester. All parents were invited and received, as a special souvenir, school pictures of their child individually, with his or her class and with the entire school, which the secretary of Yawenta France had taken and printed. We also took this opportunity to discuss with the parents the importance of the gardening workshops for the project, for their own relationship to our school, and for the self-esteem and determination of persons who have lost the energy and motivation to work. Although we still have some difficulty in engaging some families in the gardening, from this day on they have gradually come more often, which is a great help for the garden and for the maintenance of the school. With the end of the dry season and the coming of the early rains, sowing starts again, so in order to maintain this large garden, this workforce is very much welcome!
In March, Solomon, our psychologist, with the help of a volunteer specializing in reproductive health who had worked in the United States and Jamaica, held information workshops with the parents, addressing several topics such as family planning, sexually transmitted diseases etc. These workshops have been so successful that the parents have asked to continue them on a weekly basis. It is not easy for us to organize them at such a rate, but as we did not want to disappoint them, we have maintained a sustained pace of three workshops in four weeks. These activities both strengthen our relationship with the children’s families, and address topics that are unfamiliar to them. Many parents have a very limited level of education, and in a country such as Ethiopia where public information structures hardly exist, it is crucial that Yawenta becomes a place where they can learn things that will be useful to the well-being of their families.
But back to the children: I would like to acknowledge the exceptional work done by Beverley Stewart, our Health, Nutrition and Hygiene Manager. Although her budget is very limited, she uses ingenuity to maintain our beneficiaries’ health at its best. Through her daily follow-up of small infections (ringworm, abscesses etc.) and other minor health problems, which she cures mainly with essential oils and natural remedies, we have succeeded in reducing our medical budget by more than 50% in 2013. The children love to come see her for treatment because she restores their self-confidence through simple actions, like having them look in the mirror or play doctor with dolls. A good example for the impact of her work is Anteneh, our newest beneficiary, a nine year old boy who joined us in early January. HIV positive from birth, the child had never been to school and was covered with ringworm to the point of becoming bald when he joined our project. He also had abscesses in his mouth, all of which made him very reluctant and anxious to connect with other children. Through the work of “Sista Bev”, in less than two months his hair grew back; he could then take off his hat and face the gaze of others, and now is a healthy and radiant boy.
Since January, thanks to a large donation, we introduced moringa in our children’s diet. This plant, which also grows in many other equatorial countries, has very interesting properties: it contains more vitamin C than oranges, more vitamin A than carrots, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, and the list goes on… In short, it is a concentrate of good things, and ever since the children eat it several times a week with their vegetable sauce or tea, they are healthier than ever! Especially Jony, one of our very first beneficiaries, who is usually a very fragile boy, now seems a lot stronger. Although this is probably due not only to the moringa, we are delighted to see them beaming and we continue to give the very best every day.
In March, our school was evaluated by local representatives of the Ministry of Education. Private schools (as NGO we belong to this category) are evaluated on very rigorous criteria in Ethiopia, and we used the opportunity to push the educational team to develop new things in order to improve the quality of our support. Thus, in a few weeks, elections of student delegates were organized, a gardening club and an AIDS information club were put in place, and an information board and a beautiful library were installed. The evaluation team really appreciated our school and gave us a high mark. They also requested that teachers from the public system come and observe our classes for inspiration. We are proud to have been recognized in this way, as we have always striven to be an innovative and exemplary project for education in Ethiopia. We are doing our best to give our young beneficiaries an interactive education and to make them love learning. In February, the primary classes have created and colored their own masks in the arts class: the students were proud of their creations and gladly took them home afterwards. The older children meanwhile discovered water-based paint and the use of the brush! They also received courses in making their own electrical circuits during science class.
In the months January, February and March 2014, we received a total of 95,712.12 birr (approximately 4,200 € or 4,800 US$) birr in donations. Our total expenses in that period were 157,222.91 birr (approximately 6,800 € or 7,900 US$), and this money was spent on the following items:
All these activities empower and open new horizons for our children, whose socioeconomic and health conditions otherwise might have limited their future prospects. Our goal is for Yawenta to be a springboard that will lead them further than they can themselves imagine and positively shape the future of Ethiopia. Thank you again for your valuable support, without which all this would be impossible, thank you for going forward with us!
Yawenta Children’s Center