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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

different day, different school



Our new friend Abera took Rick and I for a walk outside the compound walls one day. He's from the area, and knows everyone, so as we wandered down the road, people were constantly calling out and waving and wanting their pictures taken. It's a different world outside those walls. Much more primitive and rural. Much poorer. Much more Muslim. Looking at some of the tukles, set so prettily under the eucalyptus trees, we had odd thoughts of Disneyland. Those Imagineers really do their homework.







Rather than going "around the block" and back to the compound, we took a left someplace, and headed down the narrow dirt road to the government school. Nothing like the Project Mercy school, this place is as rural as it gets, and as crowded as a place can be without bursting. There was no electricity. The only light in the dark, mud walled rooms came from the small windows and open doors. The younger kids sat elbow to elbow on benches, with rough planks balanced across their knees as desks. Still, the kids were excited about learning, and the teachers seemed dedicated to their work. We had to visit every classroom, so no one would feel left out. Visitors, especially firengees (foreigners), are most welcome.







This group was learning English. They repeated after the teacher, as loud as they could, I love my brother. My brother loves me...





My big fat social blunder was to try to get the kids to pose making a "peace sign"... they looked at me so funny, and really didn't want to do it. Later I learned that the simple V we flash as a sign of peace is not as international as we arrogantly imagine. In Ethiopia it's the symbol of the "Resistance" - a rebel group opposed to the government. I don't know much about the politics, but local kids did not want to be associated with them... I think I'd better do some research. Dumb Firengees...
They finally went along with me after I repeated "Salam, salam, peace" about a hundred times...




Look at this little girl. Or more specifically, look at her earrings. Gold. Real gold. I was close enough to be sure. What I can't figure out is where she got them and why she was allowed to wear them. People are so dang poor in that region. Those earrings could feed her family for a year. Maybe it's a sign that the crops are doing well, and things are improving for people. I hope so.



After visiting all the classrooms, we went outside to take a picture of the teachers. We thought it was just going to be a group shot, but then we were asked to take individual photos of each of them. Not a lot of cameras come through there I guess. Abera had prints made, and brought them back the following week. I think if we'd known they wanted "school picture day", we might have spent the time to take shots of all the kids too. They don't have these things. Families don't have records of childhood and holidays and birthday parties. Memories are all in their heads, but they really appreciate having something they can pin to the mud wall.



The rock they're standing here with is some sort of memorial. No one could tell me who it was for, but it was important to have a photo taken with it. Then we moved to get a picture with the mountains. The men were so nice. The women scared me. But maybe I scared them too...



And this was funny... Everyone looked to be of average height, and the one guy looked pretty tall. But when we posed with them, we looked like giants...




On the way home we did a little more visiting. It was nice to have that different perspective outside the safety of the compound. Out there in the "hood" you can rent a house for about $20 a month. It will not have electricity, indoor plumbing, phone or internet. Water comes from the public supply, brought down from the mountains by Project Mercy. Every day, people gather here with jugs and buckets.




Outside the compound, there's also the threat of hyenas. We never saw any, but we sure heard them. Creepy. We also didn't see the baboons. I guess we'll have to get out more next time. Yes, we want to go back. Of course we want to go back. There are more questions than answers now. And one thing seems almost unavoidable - Ethiopia steals hearts. There's a song, isn't there? I left my heart... in Ethiopia...



3 comments:

Diosa Domestica De La Locura said...

I'm throughly enjoying reading of your adventures abroad :). I also love love love your new pic there at the top of your blog. I miss the mountains soooo much.

Take care,
Penny \IiiI
Texan Landed In Michigan

Michelle in the UK said...

Kim, this very interesting.
Also I love the photo at the top of Greetings from Taos, it looks lovely !

PA said...

I'm curious. Why did the women scare you? In what way? Oh, and I love the new Taos picture too.
Polly Anna