First experiences in Addis Ababa

Gaby is a fleabag. Shiny red dots are proof of the fleas getting adjusted to our presence in the house. But we get more used to our new environment too. After 10 days of constant fatigue and yawning, we have adjusted to living and working on 2’400 m above sea level, as well as to our daily sports activities and a lot of dust on the streets. The air is thin up here, which does not only affect our Western bodies, but most of the car engines in the city as well. The steep road we have to take to get home is lying under a constant layer of dark smoke, because of the many buses and cars which have to go full throttle in first gear to make it up the hill.
It’s usually more a black clowd with a mini-bus attached, really.

Our welcome was excellent. The staff greeted us with open arms, warm hearts and funny jokes. We were taught the local handshake and the Ethiopian food was explained to us. Speaking of food: another thing that makes arriving easy. The local specialty „Injera“ (Flat Sourbread with stew, varying from lentils over potatoes to meat) is so good, we cannot wait for the next plate. So far the Ethiopian kitchen, combined with the leftovers of the former oppressors (Italy, who left us Pasta and Pizza as „local food“) is spoiling our stomaches.
So far there are no signs of the famine (which strikes the country’s south) on the markets and surprisingly in the media neither.

The Sport-the-Bridge (STB) concept gets clearer to us every day. In our second week, the „recruitement“ of street kids marked the beginning of a one-year process. Soon, the kids won’t only get food, medical care, psychological attention and daily football matches, but also literacy classes and most of all the life-skills training through sport pedagogy. Additionally, the staff (of the family-integration department) will discuss the kids personal goals and and ask about their reasons for which they left their homes. This is only the start of a lot of measures and support that the kids and their families can profit from over the next years, always with the main goal in focus: to reintegrate the children in their families (or with relatives) and in school.

Already a few days after the recruitment, a first case of integration can be conducted with a „runaway kid“: This particular boy has only been on the streets of Addis Ababa for about a month, after leaving his home 350km outside of the city. The separation of his parents, combined with drinking problems of his father and the „glorious promises of the city“ that his friends had told him, lead him to the decision to take the bus to the city. Of course the streets of Addis didn’t turn out to be as shiny and fun like he thought and since the first day that the STB-staff met him on the street, he repeatedly expressed his wish to go home. He was able to tell his mothers phone number and thereafter an agreement could be reached. STB enabled the mother to come to the city and discuss the problems of the boy while they were reunified. Moving scenes took part in the STB office at an unusually early stage of the programme. But this case was not only exceptional for the fast reunification; in other cases, the staff members travel hundreds of kilometers to reach the childrens families. They were happy that the mother could be reached by phone and agreed to come to Addis herself.
Like any other reintegrated child, the „follow up“ of the reintegration starts as soon as the child has left the compound. The follow-up includes regular phone calls and checks, if the child is still with his family, if he goes to school, if there is enough food and so on…
This is conducted up to 4 years after reintegration (in special cases even longer).

For most of the new kids (around 60) however a long process of reintegration has just started, by teaching them life skills and values through sport pedagogy (including awareness of their body {health}, following of rules, acceptance of the other, fairness and team spirit). For many of the kids can be found a way back into their families, through the attention of the teachers and the efforts of the family integration staff.

Gaby has washed most of her clothes (with Dettol), changed the bed and even the room. Her itchy life starts to get better. The extensive cleaning we did (Dettol again) also brought a change for the better, although there seem to be even more of little creatures around now.
Anyways, the first days have been intense but also brought a lot of interesting and fun experiences in our new everyday life.

If you are interested to know, how we keep up with the pace of the children and about our stay in Ethiopia, check our blog regularly!

Yours sincerely,
Gabrielle and Jonathan
Trainees of Sport The Bridge

Gesucht: Occasion-Videokamera

Das Team in Äthiopien braucht dringend eine Videokamera! Optimal wäre es, wenn sie bereits gebraucht, gut bedienbar, klein und handlich ist.

Falls es eine Person gibt, die über ein solches Gerät verfügt oder jemanden kennt, der dies tut – und bereit wäre, uns die Kamera zu spenden oder günstig zu verkaufen – sind wir froh über jedes Angebot oder jeden Hinweis.

Herzlichen Dank!


Idee/Hinweis/Angebot an:

Betreff: Videokamera