Monday, October 29, 2012

A couple jobs for some familiar faces

The Future of Kembata-Tembaro Ethiopia Reads construction management rest largely in the hands of three proven Kololo community members.  Through visiting this blog you have most likely become acquainted with many of the 2011-2012 Kololo work-crew.  Although we hired over 60 different community members during the course of the build there was a small percentage that stood out due to their astounding work ethic, positive attitudes, and their natural abilities to lead.  Each of these individuals participated in my Skilled Labor certificate program, and in one case, earned the position of construction assistant manager during the Kololo school build.  I am elated to share that Temesgin Alamu and Salamnesh Lagessa will be hired to assist Ijigu and I with the implementation of the next two schools in Kembata-Tembaro.  

In the next week I will be posting bios on the two, as well as providing you with a little background on what exactly Tamesgin and Sallamanesh will be assisting us with. Here is a couple shots of them back on the Kololo build.

Tamesgin helping out with the roof supports

And modeling with Ijigu's famous war time canteen
Salamnesh and a few of the guys proud of their fresh cement work (Sallamnesh is the young lady in the back).

Sallamnesh making one of thousands of trips down the hill with the dirt that would become the schools walls.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Final Durame and Shinshicho Regional Assessment Trip

 On October 16, 2012 I traveled to Kembata-Tembaro to finalize the Ethiopia Reads need assessment process begun in May.  In addition to determining a recipient community, we used this trip to thoroughly train 3 Ethiopia Reads project officers in using an enhanced process in assessing and mapping potential beneficiary communities.  The entire trip lasted 4 full days, and at its conclusion I have determined that we have 1 definite and 3 prospective beneficiary communities. 

During this trip we worked with woreder , kebele , local finance and local education officials.  We also called on the expertise of local community leaders to discuss community needs in the region.  In total, we   visited three previously assessed communities, as well as one new.   The areas visited were located just outside of Durame and Shinshicho.  Each of the potential build community’s location was marked using a GPS apparatus.  I am currently in the process of uploading this data to create an online map of that will show the exact location of each of the sites.

Three of the four communities that were visited could greatly benefit from both an Ethiopia Reads sponsored library, or the construction of a school.  While it would be more appropriate to just offer Ethiopian Reads library sponsorship in one potential beneficiary community.   We are currently waiting to hear a few site related updates from a couple of the local officials to make our final decision on implementation time line.  So for the time being I can share photos from the trip, Ill share the big news of where and what by the end of this weekend.  

The AzeDabo School director, kebele, teachers and a couple ER staff

Potential KG land

Checking the library measurements

A bit ofWenko from the road

Tesfahoune taking down school and local community population numbers

Leaving Wenko

We had a few friends for our walk into the surrounding communities

The guys using the GPS to mark where exactly we were

Plenty of hyena holes to go around in Washo

A touching community meeting

Washo folks showing us around

Beautiful surroundings

Fundamo Children

A great example of the usual rural south school library, not much to look at...

Plenty of green pastures in our future

Monday, October 22, 2012

Kololo Re-cap

A foggy day in mid-May
On April 20th the Kololo community and Ethiopia Reads celebrated the completion of the Kololo school. After nearly six months of swinging, lifting, mixing and slathering mud, painting and cleaning, the school's construction was finished. The school's furniture for each the structure's eight rooms was delivered by the end of June. Teacher and librarian training began this summer, and with full support from the local government, so school could begin this fall.

For the last week of March and the first of April we lacked sufficient funding to pay workers their weekly salary. This was not an issue. The community trusted Ijigu and me at this point, and had no problem continuing work under an I.O.U. program. Hours were carefully noted, and when the final installment arrived we paid all of the workers in a lump sum. A really beautiful moment occurred when five of the workers told Ijigu and me that they were working as volunteers, because they cared about their community's future, not in hopes of being paid. Five workers felt so strong that they declined payment for their hard work. (It took some doing, but we found a way to get each of the five to accept.)

On April 20th the school was complete. There were a few unfinished projects (the bridges needed to dry and be hoisted into position, window putty was not fully complete, and the bathroom needed a small bit of work. The same five workers told Ijigu and I that they would relish the opportunity to finish the build in the next couple days on their own). That evening we held a sizable party to celebrate the community's hard work. Approximately 150 or so people showed up and we had a wonderful time. Community members shared funny stories and told jokes of their new ferenji family. The evening finished with a gift giving ceremony for the five standout workers, and drinks of local brew with village elders. The night's activities made for very pleasant last sleep over in Kololo.

The last month of work was an excellent showing on the part of project management, particularly regarding personnel management. Salamnesh, Gazan, and Temesgin assisted Ijigu and me in managing the workers as they put the finishing touches on the school. The final pours went well, the doors and window glass fit perfectly in all but 2 of the 43pieces (those have since been re-sized and installed), the last pit of touch up paint went well, as well as a variety of other tasks. The school came together beautifully, the community is very proud of themselves, as they should be for completing such a monumental task.
I will be visiting Kololo in the two weeks.  I will be able to take up-to-date photos of the school, learning in action, and of course many shots of the schools beneficiaries.  Should be posted in the next 2 weeks.

I'm Back... about time, huh.

Yea yea yea… believe me I know.  I did absolutely nothing this summer to let my readers know whats going on with me, or the organization’s I work with.  My sincere apologies go out to my readership, friends and family for leaving you all in the lurch.

Here’s a start

I had a busy summer back in the US.  I worked and played in New Orleans, Minneapolis, Chicago and DC.  And I even made some time to enjoy the great north woods.   On the days, when I wasn’t restoring homes or landscaping, I could usually be found in front of a computer catching up on ER project reports, emails, and spreadsheets.   While I made sure that at least half of my evenings were open to spend time with friends and family.  I happily gained over 15 pounds in in delicious “mom food,” shared innumerable laughs with great friends, cherished time with siblings, and spent as much time on a bicycle as possible.  Just as I miss Ethiopia when in the US, these are just a few of the reasons why I miss US living when I am not around.

When I last left Ethiopia, we were expecting that I would be able to return in late August; unfortunately that was not the case.  The prime ministers death and numerous bureaucratic bottle necks forced us to wait until recently for me to return.   I got back to Ethiopia nearly a week and a half ago, and have gotten right to work.  The first few days back were spent meeting Ethiopia Reads’ new staff, catching up on my Amharic, and preparing for my busiest year in Ethiopia yet.  I will be managing the construction of two schools in the Kembata-Tembaro region, as well as introducing ER’s first tier of its Kembata-Tembaro health outreach program.  We all are very excited to get started, and it seems that we will at the beginning of next month.

I spent much of last week with 3 ER program officers traveling on foot, motorcycle, and mini bus throughout Kembata.   We were preforming the final portion of ER’s needs assessments for the next two school builds as well as visiting 4 potential Ethiopia Reads library projects.   The trip was a success, we made excellent government contacts, and we are very confident that we found two outstanding sites for builds within the Durame and Shishicho areas.  Ethiopia Reads management, Dana Roskey and I are currently talking through potential project timelines.  I should be able to make a formal announcement of the school build recipient communities in the next couple days.

Internet is mighty slow these days.  Here is just a taste of summer activities.

Biking around Mpls river trails.

The last night out in Minneapolis.

Same... good ol' Hexagon 

Same... with the good folks of Boom Island Brewery 

Superior Hiking Trail