Monday, September 27, 2010

Life Goes On...

So if my life here in CT is suppose to be the setting of a novel....I'd advise everyone that this is going to be the most boring novel you have ever read lol. Sorry. Now, don't get be wrong, there is nothing wrong with my life here, except that it's pretty boring. My days consist of sleeping in, watching movies and tv on my laptop (they don't get any tv channels at all), getting ready and going to work, working for around 5-8 hours, coming home and watching more tv or movies on my laptop, and going to bed and doing it all over again the next day. And the next day. And the next. So yeah, really really boring novel. Sorry guys.

I've been spending the weekends at my grandparents house in Mendon, MA and working on sewing projects with my Gramma. I've gotten a pretty good head start on some Christmas gifts and not I'm tackling a huge, grueling project. Crochet. I'd forgotten how bad I am at crocheting until last night where I attempted to relearn. Grams had bought me a "Learn To" book, a hook and some yarn and I sat down and starting following the directions. It didn't work. If you know anything about crocheting you know that after you make your base chain, you then have to make stitches into the base. I fail at that. I can't tell where one chain starts and the other ends and which chain I've already went through and which one is the next one, and it just turns into a big mess. Unfortunately, I've gotten it into my head that I want to make an afghan, so I guess I'll have to keep at it. Maybe it's because I'm left handed and the directions aren't is the reason I'm messing up? I dunno.

Other interesting facts you should now. Did you know know that when the oil light flashes on a Volkswagen Jetta and you hear a beeping noise it means you are REALLY REALLY out of oil (as in it doesn't even read on the dip stick)? Did you know that said Jetta takes 5W-40 oil but if you don't have any of that available (because most places don't carry it) you can use 5W-30 instead? Also, did you know that the lever to pop the hood of said Jetta is camouflaged to look exactly like the interior so that you can't find it and is actually on the left side under the steering wheel by the door? I learned all of this on my way home last night. I ended up having to pull into a gas station, call my dad, and read through the owners manual in the glove box to A. figure out how to pop the stupid hood and B. figure out what type of oil I needed to buy. I would like to now proudly tell you I have checked a car's oil and added more all by myself.....with my dad making fun of me on the phone the entire time. So if anyone ever needs to check their oil in a Jetta, I know how.

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Connecticut Adveture!

So, I've started a new chapter of my life....the one called "After College", otherwise known as "I now have a degree, but I still have no idea what to do with my life". So as my new adventure unfolds, and my future plans seem to change quicker than I can keep up with, I've decided I need to start blogging again. Also, I've been told that my current situation is the perfect setting for a novel and that I better write down all that happens or else...

So to catch people up to speed in case you are not aware of all the constant change in my life, I graduated from Appalachian State University this past May with the plan being to intern with Camps Crusade for Christ in Apex for a year doing event planning. I spent the majority of my summer at home, working on support raising for my internship, just to get to the end of the summer and not be anywhere close to my goal. At this devastated point in my life I realized that God must not want me to intern with Crusade (because He did not bring in the funds I needed), but must have wanted me to go through the process of meeting and talking with people for a reason. Earlier in the summer, a friend of mine told me about an internship she was applying for with this group called Safe World Nexus, where they were trying to get a group of interns together to try and stop malaria, starting with a certain 9 villages in Uganda. These interns would travel the country talking to people making them aware and getting them involved in the fight against malaria, and then would actually bring groups of people over to Uganda to implement malaria preventing tools. When I first heard about it I thought it sounded really cool and like something I would love to be a part of (especially since they were looking for some people with photography skills), but I was currently committed to Crusade. Well, when the Crusade internship fell through, I asked my friend for more information about the Safe World Nexus internship and looked into it deeper and decided that this might be where God would have me go. So the plan as of right now is to apply for the Safe World Nexus internship and move to Bristol, TN (where they are located) in January and work for them for a year.

What am I doing until January? Good question. The first plan was to get a job (or two) in Raleigh, live at home, and save money for next year. But.....I couldn't find a job at home (at least not in a timely manner). My Aunt and Uncle who live in Putnam, CT own a cafe, and earlier in the summer had offered me a job there. I really didn't want to move to CT at first....it's so far away and none of my friends are there....but after thinking it over and talking to my Aunt and some other people, I decided to do it. Once the decision was made (a mere two weeks before I actually left) I started getting excited about it. So now, here I am, living with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins (girls ages 15 & 10), and working at their cafe 40 hours a week (I can now make you whatever type of coffee beverage you would like). I arrived this past Monday, worked a double shift of Tuesday (for which I had to be at the cafe at 5:30am), spent all day Wednesday working on web design for the cafe and the town, worked a shift on Thursday, and worked again today (I have been dubbed officially trained at the cafe). Nothing to exciting has happened so far, but like I said, apparently this is the perfect set up for a novel and something exciting always happens in a novel so we'll see what happens.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Kechene


The school is located in one of the poorest sections of Addis Ababa and the kids are all either orphans living with relatives in the community, from destitute families, or from families whose parents are HIV/AIDS positive. The kids are all in either K1, K2, or Grade 1, although some of the kids are a little young or a little old for the classes. They are still allowed to come because otherwise they wouldn’t have anywhere to go.


The kids are given two meals a day- breakfast of a banana and a roll, and then lunch of either injera and dorro wat, or rice with potatoes, carrots, and onion in it.

All the students' uniforms are ripped and torn and falling apart, but thankfully a former volunteer gave money for new uniforms. The school now has these new uniforms, but they are waiting until after the rainy season ( July-September ) to give them out.


The kids' school supplies are very skimpy. They all seem to have some tattered semblance of a notebook and then some form of writing utensil. Their writing utensil might be a stub of a pencil that is less than an inch long, or the inside of a pen- the part that actually holds the ink. They are very good at sharing erasers and pencil sharpeners with each other, which is good because otherwise there wouldn’t be enough. I brought a bunch of packages of pens and pencils with me for the school, and I am slowly seeing the kids and teachers start to use them. They will use a stub until you can’t possibly use it anymore, but then it is replaced with one of the brand new pencils I brought. That makes me glad and thankful that I brought these things.


Most of the time, the school does not have power, but even if it does, it is only used in the office for the computer and printer. There are never any lights on in the 3 classrooms, meaning they rely completely on natural light coming through the windows and doorways to see. This can make it extremely dark inside. The floors are dirt, the desks are little metal frames with wood seats, the chalk boards are old and chipped and broken in places making it difficult to write on them. The teaching style is to write information on the board and have the students copy it.


There is no running water inside the buildings. There are a few spigots outside where they get their drinking water and the kids wash their hands, but because of the lack of rain lately, they have been drying out. One day, the school had to bring water in from somewhere else, so that they could cook and so that the students wouldn’t go thirsty. The problem was the only method they have for carrying water is in old plastic oil jugs. This meant the water given to the kids to drink was tainted with oil.


But even though they have next to nothing, you’ve never seen such joyful, fun loving kids! They love to play and learn and their faces light up with joy when they see you. Their favorite games are futbol and susie (which is a long circle of rope the girls play with where 2 girls hold the rope tight and another jumps in and out of it doing tricks and such) and they all love being called on in class. You see kids fighting all the time , but if one kid is actually crying and hurt, the other kids try to take care of him, comforting him or getting a teacher to help. These children have some of the biggest smiles I have ever seen. And they all crave affection. They all want to give you a hug or a kiss (or multiple kisses), or to shake your hand. They love to come just sit next to you and pull your arm around them. Like all children everywhere, they just love to be loved and to give love.


Day 25: Summer school

June 25, 2009

Thursday


The kids got their grades back for their finals today. It kind of gave me a reality check for some of the kids. When I sat in their classes it always seemed like everyone was learning the material and understood, but so many of the kids failed their test, especially their English one. It surprised me. One of the teachers told me they would probably do tutorials with the weaker students during the summer. Even though classes are over, the kids will still come for a half day everyday so that they can still get fed breakfast and lunch and play and have some sort of class/tutorial.

Day 24: Stickers and Ziplocs

June 24, 2009

Wednesday


“We live by faith, not by sight.”

2 Corinthians 5:7


“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:21


Last day of exams at Kechene. I helped hand out the Art exam for Grade 1, which was a list of about 5 things they had learned to draw and they had to draw each one. The format is different than what you would think of for an Art exam back home. The items are bulleted like normal exam questions, all on one sheet of paper, so the kids have to use either their pen or pencil and draw each item in the little blank space given.


I also handed out stickers to the Grade 1 class, which almost turned into chaos, but I had Johannas tell the kids they had to sit down and wait for me to come to them. Plus, lunch was starting to be served so they didn’t have a choice but to sit. I let them each pick out the sticker they wanted and most of them put it on their forehead.


The ziplock bag I use to hold my PB&J (which is what I eat everyday now) has become a hot commodity in the Grade 1 class. Monday, one of the boys asked for the bag, so I gave it to him and he put his pencils and pens in it. Yesterday, Henock, another one of the boys, asked for the bag and I gave it to him too. I also had an extra one in my bag from the previous day, and since I was eating lunch with Mekdas, one of the girls, I gave her the extra one. Well, then everyone wanted one! I had purposely not given the bags out in front of everyone, but Henock went and made a big scene over it in front of everybody so they all came running to me. Once I got across that I didn’t have anymore, half the kids started telling me “tomorrow” and indicating that the bag from my lunch the next day should go to them. I tried to tell them no, that I could not promise who would or would not get the bag, but none of them really listened to me.


After school I sat in the Pink Café again, except they didn’t have power, so I had a Pepsi instead of a macchiato. Then when I go home, Blair and Allison and I headed over to the Uma Hotel to try and use their wireless (the hotel is within walking distance of the house), but their power was out so we sat there for a while and I read and then we headed back to the house. On the way back we found a little jewelry store that had a sign saying that all the jewelry was made by women trying to support their families. There was some really cool stuff there and I bought some bracelets and a keychain from them.


Day 23: More Exams

June 23, 2009

Tuesday


Exams were happening again today so I took pictures of the kids (which got a little frustrating because some of the kids are very pushy and grabby) and sat in on the KG1 science exam. The whole exam was written in Amharic and all the instructions were in Amharic too, so even though I was the “helper” for the class, I really didn’t help much. I kind of just sat there and helped pass out and collect the exams. The exam was very hard for the kids. For some reason a lot of them couldn't grasp the concept of multiple choice, so Azarat had to keep explaining it to them over and over again.


After lunch at Kechene, I headed back to Tor Highluch and went to the Pink Café down the street from the house and sat in there for a while drinking a macchiato and writing letters.


Day 22: Final Exams

June 22, 2009

Monday


“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9


“Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all- he is the greatest.”

Luke 9:48


Exams started today at Kechene, so it’s still half days. Each class has 2 finals a day for 3 days. I helped with the Grade 1 math exam, meaning I helped pass out the exams and collect them again at the end. After lunch, when everyone had left, I headed over to Asco again to hang out with Blair and Allison. All the kids there were resting in their dorms though, so we just sat around reading until it was time to go.