It's morning, I've just had a breakfast of poached eggs banana and fresh bread, with tea, water and juice. It's no wonder I ain't losing any weight. The Subanya is outside by the gate and there are two empty bottles of beer on the wall. It's important to keep them, it means that if you swap them for full ones you pay half as much. It's a brilliant recycling system.
We take the bus to Piazza (Ethiopia was briefly invaded and ruled by Italy in the 1930's) then to Lideta where we meet the boys from the project. Because of a delay in materials from the government the project is not able to start till next week, but it is still possible to get the kids in for some workshops tomorrow. The prevailing attitude of Tesfahun seems to be, "everything is alright, anything you want to do we shall arrange, don't worry we'll sort it out tomorrow." Tesfahun, tells me he has loads of assignments to keep us busy for the stay. I am told later by Amanda that "busy" is a very relative term. What I might think of as busy (a full day, run off my feet, meeting deadlines with not enough time for lunch) is very different to what the general population of Addis Ababa think of as busy (arrive around 11, talk for a bit and have a meeting, maybe do a bit of work, then go out for lunch, come back late in the afternoon and maybe do another piece of work before going home). I am worried a little. I don't like not being busy, so I think I will just have to make my own work on the project. Don't get me wrong, they are doing wonderful things and they are great people with huge hearts but efficiency may not be a strong point. Having said that, Sha spent the morning calling the kids to get them to come in at 10am tomorrow to have an English workshop with Amanda (me assisting).
We talk a lot about the project in their tiny office and start planning how we can be involved. I would like to run some music workshops, body percussion, songwriting and singing with different groups. One of the aims is to work with the kids to write a song for the project. Tesfahun, Sha and Geditchw have asked me to send my proposals to them tomorrow.
Geditchw wants to start a special needs school but will need a lot of funding to do so. Children with special needs are often seen as a shame on the family and are usually kept hidden away in the recesses of the family home for many years, sometimes until they die. Those who do get sent to school are not allowed to progress past the 4th grade and so have no hope of gaining a proper education. There are special needs schools that do provide education but they are in the minority and there are none currently in Lideta. Geditchw hopes to change this. He is a very soft spoken fellow with kindly eyes and is very patient with me when it comes to explaining new words. He writes my name in Amharic, it is only three letters long.
We hear of some of the girls who are being sexually abused by their step fathers (approximately 5 out of the 218). Manda heard about some of them last time she was here. Apparently the number has now risen. The project does what they can in reporting any incidents to the police but more often than not it's difficult to successfully prosecute these men.
The project has done a lot over the summer, running a life skills course for the older boys and girls, teaching them about mutual respect, self esteem and moral values. Manda hopes to build further on this especially for the girls, by running self esteem workshops for the older ones.
At the end of the day we take the bus to Megananya, get some food and pop to the internet cafe before going home. A couple of people say "Welcome to Ethiopia" as we walk by, kids ask us for money, games, pens (in that order). A troupe of donkeys with no apparent owner are on the middle lane of the motorway and are slowing traffic considerably.
Amanda coins a new phrase: "I'm stuck like a Ferenge(White Person) at Bob Marley" meaning "I'm completely constipated".