Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Teach a man (or a kid) to fish...

We're back in Addis after an absolutely stunning and amazing time in Asebe Teferi. I have much, much to write on what we saw - my head's exploded once again. The drive out was close to 5 hours due east from Addis towards Somalia. The landscape is breathtaking at times and at others totally desolate and empty.

From Africa 2007

The photo above is from an alternative basic (AB) school designed to get kids who were not in school at all and who suffered from the worst forms of child labor basic education. These children were forced to work in the fields, carry water or hunt for firewood in lieu of an education. In other areas of Ethiopia, girls are forced to work in gold mines, many of which are unstable and can collapse at any time.

We arrived and were treated to 2 songs (one was the ABC's, the other a song about Child Labor) and were really impressed by the classroom and the entire feel of the place. The school has 160 children from the surrounding communities. Kids attend either a morning or afternoon shift, and each class is about 40 children. Connected to the school is an exerimental gardening project run by the local community. The children also learn to work the garden, and the community benefits further by making money from selling the carrots, tomatos and other veggies.

The recurring and important theme in seeing these programs in Ethiopia is self-efficacy. All the IRC programming is designed around long term solutions. Cliche as it may be, we are teaching them to fish. It's incredible work and when we saw how IRC water programs are connected (this school's water and the garden is supplied via IRC water taps and reservoirs) the big picture finally starts to come into focus (much more on that later).

I have so much more to blog about, but for now, it's shower and dinner time.

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