I come from a very large family in Debre Zeyt. Being one of the oldest child among my brothers and sisters, I took care of them very early, starting from my childhood, proud to support my mother. Since then I have always loved to work with and care for children of all ages. I learned from my mother and I realized myself later that correct feeding is of tremendous importance for the development of children and their abilities in the future. I believe also that if a child is well fed and feels loved, he can accomplish whatever he wants and show love to his brothers and sisters and most importantly to God.
I took nutrition studies at Addis Ababa university, participated into literacy campaigns for children and worked during five years in harsh conditions such as refugee camp on the Somali border, caring for malnourished children. Then, I devoted my time to my own children and husband, continuing my university courses in Belgium where we settled. One of my life goal has always been to open a cantine in my neighborhood in Debre Zeyt to care for children in need.
I was thus so amazed and delighted to hear that an organization like BCI Academy was already in place while I was planning to stay a few months in Debre Zeyt for family purpose. I contacted “Bless the Children” to offer to volunteer as nutritionist to monitor the children, give health and nutrition advice to the mothers, etc. They responded quickly, we have discussed the matter and I have been warmly welcomed, feeling a sense of family!
My first concern has been how to deal with and get added value from the kitchen’s waste disposal. Especially the organic waste. We have started to produce compost with the children so they can learn about the environment and sustainability by diminishing waste and re-use it in other ways. They will also learn how to grow plants from that compost.
Then, we have worked on the kitchen arrangement and diet plan. We want to increase the fish intake of the children because it is a great source of proteins and other important nutrients for growth. Arrangements are needed with local fishermen to carry quickly the fish in frozen bags from the numerous lakes surrounding Debre Zeyt to our freezer to avoid waste. Furthermore, it is good to teach the children the importance of local products and markets. We will introduce fish at least once a week in the children’s diet.
A few days after my arrival, we greeted 13 young volunteers from abroad. Our young students welcomed them and prepared our traditional coffee. Afterwards, they all discussed together and exchanged ideas, read texts from the bible and sang songs. It was really so pleasing to see them all together. Among all the activities planned, the distribution of school material an equipment to the families in need was the most interesting one for me. During home visits, we are asking a lot of questions to understand the situation in order to donate some material according to their real needs. We can see people in their own environment.
It is always moving our heart because the poorest people are usually the kindest people and they are offering us their only asset, love and respect. By being in their home we realize what is appropriate or not. For example, what is the use to provide cereal in grain to a single mother if she cannot buy charcoal for cooking? We have to find other solutions.
The newcomer volunteers also did a really good job painting the walls, chairs and the doors. The night before their departure, our young students showed great kindness by cleaning the feet of the group to show them love and politeness. It was really moving to see them do that with genuine love. It really shows their love of God and to one another.
The social workers organized everything efficiently and in a very correct way. At the beginning of the school year, they started the distribution of school material for the university students who also received transportation money to go to school. The fresh students also received money for their transportation as well as school material. The little girls were also being taken care of, they received uniforms as well as bras and hygiene kits. It is important to teach them proper hygiene to avoid any kind of health problem.
This morning I stumbled by chance on my return plane ticket. I got emotion and tears welled up my eyes. It was a mixture of joy – the perspective to be reunited soon with my husband and children – and sadness – leaving all those children who gave me a thousand time more than what I could ever give them. They made me strong, they raised up my soul and spirit. They raised up my faith in God. They made me better for my family. I would like to thank “Bless the Children” very sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, for trusting me and for giving me the chance to go through this spiritual journey.