After a whirlwind 48 hours of traveling from Austin to Washington D.C. then to Addis Ababa and Awassa, we were finally on our way to Arbegona.
Driving through the beautiful Ethiopian countryside I sat quietly for a while contemplating how I could be the most helpful during the next 3 days. The Davis Moon Project had shown their confidence in bringing me here and I wanted to do my best.
Helping with the children and infants in the orphanage in Addis the day before left me feeling every emotion imaginable, what would I be facing at the school in Arbegona? Turns out I was about to have one of the most joyous moments of my life.
After getting off the bus, we passed under a beautiful arched doorway decorated with flowers and a sign that said “All of you Welcome”. As the first of our group passed through the doorway, the sound of over 400 children singing their hearts out greeted us; the voices combined with their beautiful faces took my breath away. I was frozen, unable to move, wanting to absorb each second of this amazing moment.
As soon as their song was through they rushed to greet us with the most sincere and loving hugs I’ve ever had from someone other than my own children. As much as I tried I couldn’t keep from sobbing and smiling at the same time. Some of the children, seeing my tears, hugged me even tighter. As I looked around me, this same scene was being experienced by each of my fellow team members.
The next moments were filled with welcome speeches and more singing. Now it was time for us to give back. We unloaded about 1000lb of books, school supplies, sports balls and 450 brand new uniforms. Our hope was to dig in and begin our work on the new school. The contractor had dropped off the supplies but the school administrator and the local leaders wanted us to spend time with the children and get to work on Monday instead. The entire dmp group enjoyed many special moments with “our” children. Looking on as we enjoyed their children were many parents whose timid smiles let us know they too were overjoyed we were there.
As our day was wrapping up, I took a moment to take some pictures and walk the perimeter of the beautiful school grounds. In one of the classrooms, I was taken aback once again when I saw signs on the primitive student desks that said: “We win Poverty By Education” “With Out Education No Development No Change” “Education Is Base For Development” It dawned on me that even though our lives are so vastly different, we believe the same thing, education and literacy changes lives.