Friday - 25/10/2013
So the sun dawned over the Lido on our last working day. The 7am drew our intrepid crew from their beds although some had been up earlier sorting out the bags for the final day - lots of resources to do a final sort on and the need to get boxes and packages ready to donate to the little ones and to the project as a whole. Breakfast called an fall the industry stopped - a quick munch an then it was finish off the preparation for the last day in Kindergarten and the after school club. It seemed to take ages to get everything into the buses - just how do you pack 50 odd MacDonalds boxes into a mini-bus so that the contents won't fall out and end up all over the floor of the bus? Another tricky challenge overcome by the brilliant team and soon we were back knocking ton the door of the Kindergarten once more.
The days activities followed pretty much the same pattern as all of the week, bubbles proving to be so popular particularly with the really tiny ones and we've even managed to work out how to do shaving foam outside and it not turn into world war 3! As I walked around all of the classrooms the wonderful creativity of the team is displayed in all of the rooms - using such innovative ideas to create all kinds of things to leave behind to remind our hosts of our visit - I wonder what might remain if we go back next year?
Lunch time soon arrived and it was back for our last lunch with Kebebe and her lovely team. This was the queue for the first coffee ceremony of the day. It is such a lovely way to experience a cup of coffee rather than just drink one. The aromatic sweet, bitter cups of dark brown liquid downed it was time to head back to Kindergarten for the emotional farewells to the little ones who had become some much part of our lives over recent days. Gifts were given out, farewells were made, tears flowed and soon the little ones were disappearing out through the gates with their parents. Thank goodness for the person who invented water-proof mascara! Then it was time for the second coffee ceremony of the day - the teachers were gracious in offering us their hospitality - how much coffee and pop-corn can be consumed in one day?
After school club was its normal helter-skelter of activity - high-energy and lots of noise. But the wonderful thing is the young people who come really seem to appreciate the simplest of activities. They are a naturally hospitable people the Ethiopians and appreciate well when others offer them the same in return. The banana song faded away for the last time and it was time to say goodbye to them too. Lots of hugs and handshakes and the young people of AHISDO drifted away. It was then down to the elder people centre to say goodbye to our hosts.
Meseret and her team had put on a wonderful show for us - dancers, presents, speeches and yes you guessed it another coffee ceremony! Multiple cups of coffee, oodles of pop-corn and it was time to be on the buses back to the Lido.
Now it was time to get into our smarter clothes to go out for the evening at the Yod Abyssian cultural restaurant. Traditional Ethiopian food and traditional Ethiopian entertainment made for a truly memorable evening - some of the youngsters showed off their dancing prowess - throwing themselves fully into the strange steps and actions. The smile on some of the faces when we finally left said it all. It was starting to get late so back to the Lido for our beds at the end of a draining day!
Saturday - 26/10/2013
Work done it was time for a bit of a lie in! Then when the normal breakfast had been consumed it was time to go out and take of the shopping Addis style. There is a particular area we use to do the shopping where there aren't gazillions of people - all wanting to sell you chewing gum - but there were lots of them! Boundaries set the team swung into action - Birr in their pockets and bartering skills at the ready they set off in search of souvenirs and presents to take home. Some of the team displayed a superb knack at the skill of driving a hard bargain - but don't feel too bad for our Ethiopian sales person - I'm sure they still make a healthy profit! All that bargaining makes for a healthy appetite so we decided to head for Kaldi's look coffee shop (not dissimilar to Starbucks!) for a well earned lunchtime. The real difference between Kaldi's and Starbucks is speed - Starbucks you're in and out so rapidly your feet hardly touch to ground. Kaldi's service is the speed of glaciers and who knows you might get what you ordered. Oh well TIA! All that finally done it was off to take on the afternoon's activities.
First off was a chance for some to go and purchase some coffee to bring home - Ani knows the best place so off we went and the memory of those coffee ceremonies prompted a good level of purchasing - well with all those resources left behind bags were always going to be light on the way home - not anymore! then some opted for a bit more of the cut and thrust of bartering - grabbing those last minute presents. For others there was an invitation to coffee in an AHISDO home. This was a lovely experience - going into a real Ethiopian home to share the ceremony once more. Sat on higgledy-piggledy armchairs and sofas, with the coffee brewed over an open stove on the floor, with frankincense wafting through the air was a memorable experience. Again such wonderful Ethiopian hospitality.
With the busy day around Addis drawing to a close it was back to the Lido for dinner and a chance to share our reflections on the week behind us and to think about the impacts it would have for us when we get home. Oh and one other thing - the site and our section of the city was without water! TIA!
Early night tonight up earl tomorrow for street football!
Sunday - 27/10/2013
6AM!!!!!! Who plays football at 6 o'clock in the morning? Well the guys in Addis do. They don't have football pitches so they play out in the street - i.e. the dual carriageway outside the Lido hotel. But what if a car comes or a bus or a taxi or something I hear you cry? Well they beep a bit and we just stop for a few moments while they go through and then just carry on where we were. Hardly Old Trafford or the Emirates but fun was had by all participants. Some good tight games played against the local guys, the hill and the altitude - no wonder the Ethiopian runners are so good! The matches were tight and closely fought but the England team put up a creditable performance. What is always greta on these Sunday morning sessions is the further chance to interact with the locals who appear from nowhere and join in with our morning. Story telling, dancing and the fun of bubbles. The football over it was time for breakfast before we set off for our day out south of the city.
Hmmm - what's that funny smell -still no water!!
Picnic bought it was down the main road south from the city to Debre Zeit - a small town with an Ethiopian Airforce base and a beautiful lake in an old volcano crater. It was probably our hottest day of the trip so now was a chance to just lay in the shade or sun and simply relax. This is a truly idyllic place waving eucalyptus trees, rids twittering overhead and the a waiter at hand to take our drink orders - perfect. Mid-afternoon and the was a rumour circulating that there was a place back in Addis where we might be able to grab a hot shower. That was enough to drag us away from our lakeside spot and to take on the traffic and the dust on the road back to the city. As the this is being typed we are rocking from side to side as we negotiate various bits of roadworks along the way - not to easy!
So you'll have to wait until we get home to find out whether we grabbed that illusive shower - if we didn't you might smell us coming somewhere down the M3!
This evening the plan is for us to get all our packing done and then to go out for a nice Chinese as our last meal together. Then early to bed - we have to be at the airport at 6:30am to check in for our 9:30 flight from Addis to Heathrow. The flight is due in at 14:35 UK time so with decent motorway experience we should be back about 6pm-ish (but by then it won't be Addis traffic to contend with but he dreaded M25, M3, M27, A31 combination.
I'll leave the last word to two of the team to share a few words on what their take has been on our trip.
Written by Harley - My second time back in Addis has certainly been an experience for everyone. By the end of tuesday, I think the whole team were slightly exhausted and absolutely gobsmacked by what they had seen the few days prior. Stood on the kindergarten steps and hearing my name called, turning around to the friend I made last year with her arms in the air and a massive grin on her face was definitely my highlight of the week. For most of the team, it must have been around the same. Seeing how Addis Ababa changes people and encourages them to become themselves is definitely one of the best things about Addis. To think I didn't even know half of the team before our flight and now seeing how close we all are and how so many people have come out of their shells rather than being shy, is one of the best things about Addis. My week has been absolutely amazing, exactly like the first time and I have no doubt that the next time I return will not have a different influence on my character.
Written by Issy - I really can't put into words how amazing this trip has been for the 2nd time. To come back and create so many more memories with new people who I didn't know or hardly knew before I left Heathrow is incredible. The highlight of the whole trip for me has to be seeing familiar faces from the last time I came and the fact they remembered me even though they are so young. This shows what an big impact we all have on the children we work with and how happy we really do make them. One thing I will take back to the UK with me is how much appreciation the people in Addis have for us and the work we do, I will definitely not stop doing what I have been this past week. The community spirit these people have is so uplifting and that is another thing I will bring back with me, I wish there was more of a community where I live. It's so lovely seeing how happy the children and adults in Addis are for how little they actually have, it teaches you that there are always people worse off than you. I am going to find it so hard getting on the plane tomorrow and leaving a lot of people I have grown extremely fond of behind.