This winter, we don't travel somewhere "just for fun", but dedicate our winter holiday to about 100 boys and girls from the poorest Ethiopian families, who get the chance to go to a kindergarden organised and financed by the Ethiopian/German NGO Adigrat Vision e.V.
Our flights are booked and on the 20th December we'll leave home, first take the ferry, then go to Bremen by car and then fly to Mekele in the Tigray province in northern Ethiopia (via Frankfurt, Jeddah and Addis Abeba). These flights will be the first for our two girls and they are really excited about it - that's also a great test for South America next year! From Mekele, we are taken to the city of Adigrat by car.
Adigrat is the last important Ethiopian city south of the border to Eritrea, lies 2457 metres above sea level and has about 60,000 inhabitants.
For the time we're in Adigrat, we are going to live in the volunteers' room of the kindergarten.
What will our jobs be in the kindergarten? Juliane will help the nursery school teachers establishing a program to teach the children how to actually learn by playing. The plan is to establish a structure with rituals, games, communication cards et cetera, which can be used and enlarged by other volunteers and thus make the volunteer work more sustainable. Mischa will do regular English-conversation meetings with the staff and both of us are planning to help in with the English lessons the older children get. Our two daughters, Anouk and Sóley, will attend the kindergarten just like all the other children. We'll see what they learn from the Ethiopian kids and what they are going to teach them (Anouk is learning some German and English children's songs at the moment, because she wants to sing them with the kids in Ethiopia; she also wants to draw with them ...).
How come that we go there, anyway? Friends of us in Munich belong to the group of people who initiated the project and built and run the kindergarten in Adigrat. For some years now, the students at our school on Spiekeroog/Germany have supported this registered society and last year, in addition to the annual membership fee, they raised enough money to pay the kindergarten fees for two kids for the complete three years they stay in the kindergarten (so, they are our school's "godchildren"). This spring, the people from Adigrat Vision e.V. asked us whether we could imagine going there and help on site.
We are really looking forward to our stay in Adigrat. It's going to be interesting to be probably the only Europeans in a city of 60,000 inhabitants. We are really looking forward to all the personal encounters and to simply being part of the community there for a while.
Apart from the kindergarten, the stay will be really exciting. Certainly, from the cultural perspective, as we are there when the Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas (on the 6th January). Expecially for our children, this will be very enriching. This Christmas will be totally different: instead of consumerism and taking, we are giving.
What we still have to do in the next two months: a visit to the paediatrist, vaccinations, inquiries concerning Malaria prophylaxis ... If you have any ideas concerning the region, general behavior in Ethiopia ("dos and no-dos"), feel free to let us know.
From Ethiopia, the idea is to blog more regularly writing about our experiences, but there is no wifi at the kindergarten, so for posting and answering mails, we have to go downtown to a hotel to use the free wifi there.