[This blog was written by Alyssa, one of our Spring/Summer 2012 superstar participants in our Cultural Awareness and Leadership program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She is spending time with street children at Onesimus Children Development Association. You can also follow her adventures on her personal blog.]
This week, I want to tell you a little about what typically goes on daily at Onesimus. Everyday is truly an adventure, even though we do have a schedule, you never know what is going to happen.
The majority of my time at Onesimus is spent with the drop-in center boys, the boys who are still sleeping on the streets at nighttime but come to the center Monday through Friday from about 8am to 3pm. I think of these boys, Amanuel, Befekadu, Besufekad, Endaweke, Abebe, Adonias, Yidenacachew and Esrael as my boys because I’ve spent so much time with them and have gotten to know them so well.
Before Onesimus had any foreign volunteers, which is pretty much up until this January, the staff each had their own scheduled activities with the drop-in center kids; one taught Amharic, one Math, one put on a film, one organized sport and so on and so forth. I think one of my biggest impacts has been that with me around to do English, art, first aid and games with the kids has helped give the staff more time to attend to their job responsibilities.
Abebe kicking the soccer ball
In January, about 34 street children were invited to attend the drop-center. When I first arrived there were not many more than 15 boys, and the number attending everyday fluctuated greatly. Now we have a pretty consistent number of 8 boys. I was very curious to know what happens to the boys that stop attending, or why they stopped attending. I found out that if the boys are reconnected with the organization again the next year, they are invited to come back to the center, and really as crazy as this sounds, some boys just aren’t ready to give up living on the streets.
My English class with the drop-in center boys has probably been the hardest to figure out because they range in age from about 7-17 and their levels are about as varied as well. To make matters more difficult, my qualifications for teaching English are basically that English is my native language. Once I realized that they love drawing, I made my own flashcards with pictures and words and I have them draw and write down the name. The most entertaining part of English class with the boys is getting them to scream the words at the top of their lungs, it is so funny! I really need to take a video of it very soon.
Abebe, Amare and Endaweke
On Monday afternoons I also teach English to the halfway home girls, the half way home boys on Wednesday and a few of the older safe project children on Thursday and Friday. Those English sessions are a little tamer as these kids are going to school, I try to just do fun stuff with them and get them to be creative and possibly write a few sentences. With the safe project kids, I try have had them do impromptu speeches or just speak with me in English. Everyone is different so I try to make sure to include everyone as much as possible because I think one of the biggest issues for Ethiopians to learn English is simply to have the confidence to speak, its just not always very easy to make sure I got everyone.
Esrael and Endaweke playing cards
Usually on Wednesdays, I get to play games with the drop-in center boys and it’s been fascinating to see them learn the games and become good at them. I taught them tic tac toe a few weeks ago and used to beat them every time, but now they give me a run for my money and really enjoy doing it too! J Just because they haven’t had the same opportunities as other children to go to school, doesn’t mean they aren’t smart, I am constantly being impressed by their intelligence. I am really hoping these boys will stay with the program so that they will be able to be returned either to their families or placed in the half way home and have the chance to go to school for the first time or again.
I’ve been reflecting a lot about how much I’ve grown and learned during the past few months here in Ethiopia and I’ve come to the conclusion that this was probably one of the best decisions of my life. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t found out about Cherokee and their work in Ethiopia. I am a happier and more positive person because of my time here and I’ve learned so much about so many things. I am so thankful for the opportunity Cherokee Gives Back gave me and also the wonderful experience I’ve had working with Onesimus Children Development Association.
The boys with Sodo, Onesimus Staff member
If you want to learn more about Cherokee Gives Back or what I’ve done with Onesimus Children Development Association or just more about the organization in general, feel free to ask me or visit their websites: http://www.facebook.com/OnesimusCDA and http://cherokeegivesback.org/
Until next time!