This post was written by Nathan Haines.
This week on Tuesday, January 7 was the celebration of the birth of Christ in the Ethiopian calendar; it’s the Ethiopian equivalent of Christmas. The actual date here in Ethiopian today is Tahsus 29. The difference between the date for Ethiopian Genna (Christmas) and the date in the “western” (Gregorian) calendar, is a combination of two factors: first, Ethiopia follows a different calendar, similar to the Coptic Christian calendar, and somewhat based on the old Julian calendar (12 months of 30 days and 1 “month” of 5 days); second, traditionally Ethiopian Christianity has been Orthodox Christianity, and many Eastern Orthodox Christians around the world celebrate Christmas on January 7.
Though Ethiopians don’t celebrate the New Year on January 1, I thought, since it is a holiday here in Soddo, and since it’s now a new year for our sponsors in the US, I’d take a few minutes today, while in Soddo, to reflect back on 2013.
2013 was a good year for Aerie Africa and the Children’s Home. Here are a just a few of the highlights for the year:
- We were able to admit little Inatu to the Children’s Home after the closure of the orphanage where she was living, uniting her with 6 of her older siblings.
- Terri Sebree and Suzanne Hanlon from the Aerie Africa board of directors visited with some sponsors and friends of Aerie in March. The group was able to apply some fresh paint to the kids’ dorm rooms, replace some mattresses, pillows, and mosquito nets, do some medical checkups, and put in a new fence for the kids’ soccer field.
- With the help of many generous donors and our partners, Water of Life International and Myungsung Christian Development, we were able to drill, case and test a beautiful new well that will soon be providing abundant and clean water to the Children’s Home (see below for explanation of “soon”).
- Over the summer, we followed up on the new well by purchasing a submersible deep borehole pump and motor system, installing the necessary pipes from the well to our water tank, and building a small storage shed as our pump control shed.
- All of our kids finished a good year in school in June; 17 of the kids ranked in the top 10 in their respective grade levels.
- We had all 5 of our 8th grade students pass their 8th grade national exams in June.
- We had 3 students qualify for university preparatory school based on their 10th grade national exam results in June.
- We had two lovely volunteers (Megan and Laura) spend the summer at the Children’s Home. Among other things, they did some academic enrichment and led some book groups with the kids.
- All the children enjoyed an annual summer trip; this year we went swimming in some hot spring pools in Wendo Genet, followed by lunch next to the lake in Hawassa.
- We were able to admit 3 new boys in August. They had been living in temporary conditions at another facility in Soddo. We are able to provide them with a better long-term home environment.
- We welcomed a couple of new staff members to the Children’s Home. Almaz took the position of Head Nurse after Eden moved to Addis, and Addisalem is our new store-keeper and librarian, replacing Mesgana who took another job in Hawassa.
- In September we had one student (Helen F.) graduate out of the Children’s Home into the Aerie transitional program.
- Also in September we had one student (Tesfaun P.) graduate out of the transitional program; he was accepted to Aerie to receive some higher education support to help him finish his surveying vocational program.
- In September we had two students (Yodit and Domenech) graduate from nursing college. They are now completing their national exams and nursing practice.
- We had one student (Omodar) accepted for 6th grade in September into the elite Liqa school (Liqa accepts, by invitation only, students in the top 5% in Soddo and surrounding area).
- In September, we celebrated the birth of baby Nazrawi, born to Meaza Gizaw. Meaza grew up at the Children’s Home, graduated from the transitional program 3 years ago, was married two years ago, and now works in the kitchen at the home.
- In October, Dr. Cynthia from the Aerie board of directors visited the Children’s Home. She was able to complete some medical checks and do some follow up on some medical issues with the kids.
- In December, the Children’s Home played host to the wedding of Afework Tekele (aka Binyam). Afework also grew up at the Children’s Home, graduated from the transitional program 3 years ago, and now works making eye glasses at an eye clinic in Soddo.
- In December, after many months of frustration trying to get a 3 phase transformer from the electric power utility, we were finally able to find an affordable pre-owned 3 phase diesel generator. This generator has now been installed and properly connected to the submersible pump / motor control panel. Unfortunately, because of holidays, we were not able to get the pump / motor installed before the end of 2013, but it’s scheduled for next week, after which we’ll be able to pump and use the water from our well.
Overall, it has been a very good year. Despite some frustration about delays beyond our control, in getting the well up and running, we are greatly relieved and excited, to finally be nearing the completion of this project. After the pump installation next week, beautiful, clean water will be flowing. We hope, through persistence on the utility corporation, to still acquire the 3-phase transformer. In the meantime, though, we’re very happy with our generator set up. I tested it with the electrician just this morning and it’s working perfectly for us.
I’d like to express a big thank you to all the supporters and sponsors who supported the Aerie Africa project, financial or otherwise. From this side of the world, it is obvious that your support is making a difference in some lives.
Happy 2014 and, once again, Melkam Genna!