Becky Fleming's Trip to Ethiopia to Save the Children
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Volunteer Becky Fleming, second from the left above, recently returned from Ethiopia where she had a rare opportunity to see the projects run by Save the Children in the mountainous central Amhara region. Becky is the chair of Maybole’s Save the Children branch, a partner in an architect firm in Ayr and mother of 4 children. Save the Children has had a record amount of donations for their East Africa appeal. Anyone wishing to see what is going on or donate can do so online at 

In Jarre village, the place where Bob Geldof first made his LiveAid appeal in 1985, we met community health workers and local mothers - we met some of their children and they wanted to hear about ours and see photos too. The health visitor, Jamilla (with white headscarf), trained by Save the Children, took us to visit Zodi whose 10 month old baby girl, Hyat, had suffered pneumonia in August and been successfully treated. Her little nephew Osin is about 4. They were very pleased to welcome Save the Children visitors and talked about the benefits of the local health workers who had delivered baby Hyat for her at home in her traditional round hut. Dr Beyene based at Kelala health clinic delivers babies in a maternity unit provided by save the children, one of 10 units in the south Wollo district of Amhara region. He had safely delivered a baby that morning and was thrilled to have a selection of newborn baby hats (knitted in Ayrshire!) and blankets to give to the mothers he helps. We met a new father, Ata Hussein, and his wife Freyhara who had an 8 day old baby girl in Desse Referral Hospital, and they were very happy to receive a blanket and hat for her (no name for baby yet)

We took some games, paper, pencils etc for the school, including a football. There are 500 children in the school and not one had ever physically seen a football! After a hesitant start they were off and the whole school chased the ball around the field. We visited Endodi Elementary school in the remote rural area of Kelala to see a village sanitation project by Save the Children providing separate latrines for boys and girls. The children have been involved in the technical design and a local builder employed to build the structures so that they can now build more for the village which has minimal sanitation facilities. We met the children of grades 1 (5 & 6 yrs old) and 2 (7 & 8 yrs old) in their classrooms where they were learning Maths, English, their own language Amharic and Environmental studies which teaches them about their own lifestyle / agriculture etc. School is half a day so they can help on family farms caring for animals, fetching water and in the fields. Younger children go to school in morning and older classes in the afternoon.

All children are expected to go to school for at least 2 years, but encouraged to do 8 years. Save the Children have been involved with government projects setting up village schools. Our group of Save the Children volunteers set off from Addis Ababa on the main road North for an 8 hour journey to the town of Dessie in the mountainous Amhara region. This gave us an excellent way to see the countryside and lifestyle of central Ethiopia where they have just had their rainy season, crops are growing and being harvested and it is an area where hunger is described as stressed and people need supplementary food for some months, provided by their government. In Jarre village we had fun chatting with children walking home from school and they showed us how to manage a camel! The children everywhere recognise the Save the Children logo on vehicles and are very welcoming. Young boys of about 7 and 8 may have an important role to play protecting their family sorghum crops as a scarecrow for about three weeks as the crop ripens. They live and sleep in a crow's-nest in the middle of the field, only allowed a few hours relief to go to school. I gave this boy a Save the children balloon to keep him amused.

                                                                                        Becky Fleming, December 2011

See also the article about Becky Fleming's preparations before her visit to Ethiopia and  interview afterward