TEAM TRIP ETHIOPIA - POST 2
Tuesday - 22/10/2013
Tuesday - 22/10/2013
Well the work really starts here - all the preparation that had been done ahead of the trip was now about to be road tested. But before all that, after a working day wake up call at 7am (Simon back to normal - no lie ins here), it was time for a brief pause at breakfast to wish Taylor a happy birthday - beautiful singing from the team so early in the morning - I'm sure Harley sounded like Chloe from Pitch Perfect. All that done it was pack up the buses with all out gear and then it was off to the Kindergarten for the first sessions of work. Excitement mounted as the battered green gates swung open to let the buses in and then there was all the frantic activity to get the teams to their classes. 1 - 2 - 3 go and the well oiled machine swung into action - when Kirsty and Simon wandered round the classrooms 30 mins later it was fantastic - all the rooms were at work, activities were in full swing and the little ones in our care were already having great fun. The team were all smiles as they realised all their hard work ahead of the trip was paying off - confidence grows and the team are buzzing. Break time on this beautiful sunny morning was, you would think, a chance to rest up ahead of the next period of in class activity. Not a bit of it - the little ones all wanted the attention of someone from the team. There were games, there were chases, there was singing and dancing, there was roundabout spinning but the team were up for the task and ready to give their all for these lovely little people. The second part of the morning followed the same pattern with a huge variety of activities being delivered across the 6 classrooms to the 200+ eager little ones. Midday soon arrived and it was time for the lunch break. This is an extended affair at Kindergarten, some of the youngest ones need to have a sleep. The team then set off to the Institute for Urban Workers to have our well deserved lunch. As always Kebebe (Ani's Mum) and her team once again did us proud putting on a very tasty offering of pasta, vegetables and bread to refuel the team ready for the afternoon. The length of the lunch break gave the team a chance to rest and relax. The afternoon session was kicked off just before 2pm and the activities just kept on coming - sticking and cutting and drawing and building and running and jumping - I'm breathless just typing it all - and all too quickly the first day in Kindergarten was over. Quick goodbyes and then the short walk down to the youth centre to do the after school club.
When we arrived at the youth centre we had our first real "This is Africa" (TIA) moment. They've known we've been coming for months but as we walked into the main hall, where our activities are based, had in places a couple of centimetres of standing water on the floor. Quick bit of replanning and we opt for working in the outside spaces (apart from the raised up main hall stage which was dry!) to deliver the activities. The young people for the after school club came pouring in and once we had reached our designated 120 youngsters the next lot of activities begin. Teams games, dancing, painting, bracelet making, parachute games were all crammed into a very short space of time and in just a blink of an eye it was farewell to our new friends and see you tomorrow. Good work team - everyone a hero.
Now the biggest challenge of the day - Addis Ababa rush hour traffic. The carnage created by the railway line building work made what is normally a challenging journey painful in the extreme. But our team were in high-spirits after a great first day's work and were looking forward to the swimming pool at the Hilton Hotel - so the journey was tolerable.
Freshen up back at the Lido then off to the Hilton for swimming, chilling, blogging and of course the best ice creams in Ethiopia! So good in fact that certain people were seen to have seconds, one person was even contemplating thirds! I'll leave to you parents to find out who? That done it was time to go back to the Lido to have our diner and then have an early night after a great day's work - so proud.
Wednesday - 23/10/2013
Another brilliant African sunrise over Addis and soon 7am came around and the dreaded knock on the door. Orange juice, omelettes and bread and jam were consumed and then it was off to face the Addis traffic once more. The journey is always an interesting one particularly in one of the buses as our driver tries to see how close to the vehicle in front he can get before Kirsty squeals. The music on the bus is a good motivator of the day ahead and soon we were pushing our way through the green gates and into the playground. The children and staff were all lined up for their start of day ceremony - they do a few songs for fun to start with and then they all turn and face the flag pole in the middle of the playground and sing the national anthem as the Ethiopian flag is raised. It is a beautiful thing to see a 4 year old hand on their chest singing the national anthem with all their might - they all know it and sing it with real energy and soul. The flag raised there is then absolute silence as each child says their own prayers - a wonderful solemnity and control for some so young. That finished it was then time for the action to begin in earnest. The team split off to their respective classrooms and the day's work began. I never cease to be amazed at the ingenuity of the team in coming up with new ideas or great twists on old ideas to keep our charges, no matter how, young occupied and amused. The pictures below give just a hint of some of what they got up to. The tree that Team Monkey created with some of the youngest of the children in the school was a stunning example of this work. Bubbles, shaving foam and the trusty parachute made there appearance in a packed morning programme. Soon tummies were rumbling (some worse than others) and it was time to pack up for lunch.
It was during lunch that a strange thing happened. As we eat this grey fluffy stuff filled the sky then all of a sudden strange wet stuff came falling from the heavens - it was raining! This just shouldn't happen at this time of year in Addis but rain it did, not only did it rain, it chucked it down and just kept going. As we drove back to the Kindergarten the rain formed rivers in the road and everywhere was awash. When we arrived back at Kindergarten the playground was criss-crossed with mini rivers and the children were all shut in behind closed doors. But our gallant team were not deterred. Minor tweaks to the order of events took place where necessary and we ploughed on with the afternoon's programme. Soon the rain stopped and the sun came back out and started to dry the ground and then very quickly it was time to say goodbye again and head off for the after school club.
The outside spaces were a bit soggy in places but fine work by Destra and his willing (press-ganged) volunteers swept all the worst of the water away. The session was then able to swing into full action. Ani's version of the Haka (apologies to the All Blacks), the individual team chants and the banana song got it going and then it was off into the various team activities. High energy stuff, punctuated by some more creative stuff sped us through another session.
The day concluded with a nice meal out in an Italian restaurant - pizzas, pasta and nile perch were all on the menu - remind me next time I'm in Pizza Hut to ask for nile perch? Back to the hotel and into bed.
Thursday - 24/10/2013
Crickey we've only two more days left in Kindergarten and after school club! So much stuff we still want to do, so many resources still to use up. New offering for breakfast today - porridge! Moira, our host at the hotel, had made it in two different ways - for those who liked it thick and gooey and for those who prefer it runny. With the team fuelled and ready for action it was off in the buses to make our way through the traffic to Kindergarten. Tari and his team are developing brilliant ways of dodging their way through the chaos and getting us to school on time. Again we arrive just in time to be able to share the day's opening ceremonials and it is still just as moving. With that completed the children head of to their classes and the day's lessons. The morning session was highlighted by a couple of huge successes - Team Panda all turned into kangaroos for their Australia Day - tall ears on the head-dresses looked very impressive and when they got jumping around they all looked very realistic - interestingly it was all led by a man who has very strong ties with New Zealand - he must have felt very conflicted. The second highlight was Team Buzzin' Bees' take on bubble blowing - pots of soapy water with food colouring, insert straw and blow (don't suck it tastes foul!) and out of the plastic cup erupts a volcano of bubbles - so much fun from such meagre resources. Another great morning done and it was off for lunch at the Institute and when we get there we find that Kebebe has got chips on the menu!
After our rest and relax it was back for our penultimate afternoon in Kindergarten - how can it have gone so quick? Bubbles can be so fascinating - out in the fresh air they fly everywhere and no matter how hard you try when you're only 4 they are particularly tricky to catch. The afternoon's activities were quickly spent and very soon the gates were opened to let in the mums and dads and brothers and sisters to come and collect there little ones. The buses started up and it was the short hop down to the youth centre. Our older friends come in very quickly now and in no time at all they were ready to start with our haka, chants and the increasingly popular banana song. All that complete and the afternoon's agenda unfolded. Some serious dance coaching was delivered in both directions, western dance from us and a great mix of traditional Ethiopian dance and more western moves from our Ethiopian friends. Another great success was formation paper plane making and flying - I hope our plane has a better sense of direction on Monday! Another after school club flew by and it was time to say goodbye once more.
Then it was back to the hotel for a quick turnaround to be back out for another swim and more ice creams at the Hilton - who is going to be the most tempted tonight by those delectable cones? It really is the perfect place for the team to unwind and enjoy themselves - the pool is sheer bliss and it just allows everyone to relax at the end of a very busy and hardworking day. Then it is back to the Lido for dinner and bed - last day's work tomorrow and then all those goodbyes!
Watch this space - more to come soon (Saturday or Sunday).