Following is a blog post written by Nathan on New Year’s Day. We are a little late posting but this is definitely worth reading. We are so blessed to have Nathan as part of our network of volunteers. He is terrific and so dedicated to the children at CCC.
2014 in Review
This is not New Year’s Day in Ethiopia, and it hasn’t just rolled over to 2015. Because Ethiopia functions on a unique Ethiopian Orthodox calendar, today is actually the 23rd day of the 4th month (Tahsas) in 2007. However, the New Year holiday still feels like a great time to reflect back on the last year at the CCC Children’s Home. As we close out 2014, I must say that since I’ve been a part of Aerie Africa and CCC, I have never been more pleased with the accomplishments at the home. Below are just a small list of the highlights:
- We currently have 6 students succeeding in government university programs. This is the most we’ve ever had.
- For the first time for Aerie Africa / CCC, two of these 6 government university students are female. We count this as a tremendous accomplishment given the social-cultural obstacles to education that exist for girls.
- One reason for the improved success of our university students has been because of generous sponsors willing to help provide laptops for our university students. For the first time ever, each of our government university students has a functional laptop computer to help in his or her studies.
- Also related to girls’ education, we were excited that 2014 saw CCC with two of our girls accepted at the Liqa School in Soddo, considered an elite academic school for Soddo since it only accepts those who can succeed on its rigorous entrance exam.
- In addition to government university students, we also had 6 students in private higher education programs in 2014, two of which recently finished diplomas in nursing.
- Fall 2014 also involved two CCC students starting government vocational programs in skill fields with promising jobs for the future (auto mechanics and construction management).
- Five new boys joined the CCC home in 2014 (Abi, Mamo, Paster, Tege and Wondimu). Though the circumstances that bring children to the CCC home are not usually reasons to celebrate, in the case of these 5 boys, who came to us from another orphanage, we are confident the CCC home can provide them with a more stable and healthier home, and we do celebrate that they are all strong and thriving.
- This year finally (huge sign of relief personally from me) saw the completion of our deep borehole well project. We were able to get it functional last spring with the installation and some repairs to an old diesel generator. We were able to get it fully operational this fall after finally receiving and installing our 3 phase electric transformer, and setting up some additional water storage capacity. The CCC home in 2015 will be completely self reliant for water.
- With the completion of the well project, our next priority was to overhaul the home’s plumbing. With the help of the head plumber at the International Community School in Addis, we were able to replace all toilets, showers, sinks, fixtures, drains (including installing smell-traps for the first time) and pipes in the dormitory house at the end of 2014.
- We had 6 new students transition into our 3 year transitional program in 2014, bringing our total number in this program (including those away at university) to 17, our largest number yet. We are very proud of this program, which involves kids transitioning out of the CCC home around age 18 to live in pairs in rented rooms in town. They are provided with money for rent, food, clothing and school, while they develop the skills to live as independent adults.
- Some students and teachers of Renewable Energy Engineering at John Brown University in Arkansas recently reached out to us about partnering around some energy related projects at the home. This fall a group of students completed a solar power assessment and proposal for the home. Though at this point, it’s just a proposal, we’re hoping it may lead to some future innovations that could reduce CCC’s dependence the costly and unreliable electric grid.
We have many things to look forward to in 2015. Just to name a few…
- We have high hopes for our three 12th grade students who will be taking the 12th grade national exams in 2015.
- We are eagerly anticipating the graduation of our first government university student, who will graduate in June with a health officer (public health) degree.
- We are looking forward to another wedding in 2015, the third of our CCC kids to grow up and get married. Though we are clear that marriage is not a goal in itself, because of the high cultural value of marriage in Wolaita, we see these weddings as successful examples of the social and cultural integration of our kids; this is important given the institutional nature of their childhoods. Until the date is formally set, we’ll keep the name a mystery.
- Now that we have the CCC home completely water self-reliant, we hope to extend the privilege of our abundant and clean water source out to some of the immediate community around CCC. The final step of our vision will be to install one last pipe and a tap for public access to the water. We plan to set up a controlled distribution schedule that will allow local households to get water a couple of times per week.
- March 2015 will see the fulfillment of a partnership that has been developing between the 8th grade class at the International Community School in Addis and the CCC home. The school in Addis will make a trip with about forty-five 8th graders to spend a week with the kids at CCC. This week will involve lots of projects and activities together, including the making of some really cool solar powered lamps, using some re-purposed electronic waste and reused plastic water bottles.
- The students in Renewable Energy Engineering at John Brown University are planning to develop a proposal for the CCC home during the 2015 spring semester for a biofuel digester that could provide biogas for cooking at the home. This could be a great means to reduce our reliance on cooking with charcoal and firewood, which have both negative health and environmental consequences.
Of course, nothing in 2014 could have been possible without the help of donors and sponsors through Aerie Africa. 2014 saw the on-going commitment of long-time sponsors; it also brought in new sponsors to the Aerie Africa family, and included a successful fall fund-raising campaign, putting Aerie Africa in a strong position for the new 2015 budget. It’s been a great year for Aerie Africa and CCC, and we are looking forward to another great year in 2015. Thanks again for all your support. Happy New Year and blessings to you in 2015.
– Nathan Haines