As I type this blog, I have two of the house mother’s sewing away and children’s voices in the background. What a great sound!! I have so much enjoyed this mission experience. What a great team!!
I wondered how my time would be spent here at Project Mercy…but that has not been a problem. Everyone on this team has been working very hard either at the hospital or here at the school site. I’m so proud of how we represent Gundersen Global Partners and this will hopefully be a long lasting mission. I feel there is so much more that we could accomplish and certainly the needs are here and the sharing of our skills and learning experience by the people are so important.
As it was told a couple of days ago, I am working in this building that has two electric sewing machines and a couple of treadle machines (of which Deme, Rosie and I tried to get to work, but I’m not coordinated enough to make my feet pump it fast enough to work) so once I had power (transformers) I was in business…or at least if we have electricity. So know I realize why I should learn how to use the treadle sewing machines!! On Monday when was setting up shop and getting organized, all the Children’s Home children came with their mending to be done. Certainly I now realize how much we are a disposable society in the US and how much they recycle and reuse here in Ethiopia. I‘m so thankful that I brought scraps of denim and fabric to mend with along with pins, scissors, and lots of thread. Project Mercy wanted curtains sewn for the school rooms so once I received the fabric, we were in business. The house mothers watched me with mending and the next day I received the fabric was able to teach the ladies how to use the machines, from threading the machines to winding bobbins, etc. I measured the windows (in centimeters), cut the panels and started showing the ladies how to fold and finger press for the hemming of these curtains. They are heavy on the foot pedals causing them of run off the fabric and would get a speeding ticket if they were driving on the road. My only issue is communication, since I don’t speak Amharic and they don’t understand too much English, the demonstration and good positive words work along with lots of smiles! They are doing a fantastic job of sewing with semi-straight seams. Deme, Marta and the head schoolmaster will be proud. I just hope that they won’t use cooking oil again to oil the machines, and that they will keep them going since I know there are lots of projects that could keep these ladies busy while the children are in school. My next project with them could be cross-stitch and or knitting.
I enjoyed helping with the vision screening for the children here at the school, which means a lot of students and teachers. It was interesting to hear how they pronounced the English alphabet. Some of the children were very proud to read the letters while others were very quiet and shy. Hopefully with those that might have a vision problems they can be helped and for sure they were told to sit closer up front.
I walked to the kindergarten school up the road from the main campus area and was joined by other children along the way, almost like the Pied Piper leading the way. Upon entering the gates I heard the sounds of singing. The students were all lined up in rows and the teacher would say the phrases and the children would repeat it. They were very good with their English alphabet song, itsy bitsy spider, and the wheels of the bus songs plus others. They then enjoyed their morning porridge, getting in line and I was able to help serve. Again they sat in rows and once they were finished, came outside and washed their cups and hands and proceeded to their classrooms. Seeing and hearing the American teacher, Katie, was also a delight.
The food has been wonderful! Homemade bread, lentil soup, fresh salads, and really good fresh roasted coffee every day has been a delight for all. Most of the food has come from gardens here at Project Mercy. A great organic garden filled with avocado trees, but the team still has not had any avocados. The Come for Supper team would be proud of all the home cooked foods.
HOUSING: The tukels (AKA CONDOS) are very nice, at least we are not sleeping on the ground and have running water and beds to sleep on, sometimes electricity. Certainly these CONDOS are very accommodating for other groups that come to help as well. The landscaping around Project Mercy is beautiful!
As with other comments by our team members, some of the frequent things I remember are to be on ISH time, children asking- WHAT IS YOUR NAME? & HOW OLD ARE YOU? There are no stop, road or streets signs, and especially how wonderful Ethiopian people are—a friendly greeting, hand wave and SMILE are priceless.
So certainly, I wish that Project Mercy was just around the corner and I could teach every day.