Brass Band Aid - Update from Adet13-Aug-2008
Bob Thompson updates what has been going on with the Brass Band Aid project in Adet, Ethiopia.
Back in Adet: Briony Thompson returns to the BBA project
Over the course of the past three years, having sent thousands of e mails, travelled thousands of miles, made thousands of phone calls and thousands of pounds raised, the recent visit to Adet, Ethiopia was a trip which will remain firmly in our hearts forever.
Fruits of labour
Driving through countless villages on route to Adet, we eventually arrived and were surrounded by local children and adults, who, full of curiosity cheered and greeted us as if kings and queens. Ahead, peering above the collection of mud huts. which is the town of Adet, the fruits of everyone who has supported Brass Band Aid came into view, the new school.
It was somewhat surreal to see, given our experience from the previous visit in 2006, where the old school was literally falling down around the pupils and staff. The school was set for demolition and as a result of limited Government tax base to finance new schools, it was not be replaced, leaving thousands of pupils without an education or being forced to travel over 80 k to the nearest school.
But now, several new class room blocks, new science blocks, a library, admin department, guard house, toilet blocks, the list goes on and more class room blocks still under construction and near to completion. The contrast between the new school and the old is simply beyond words.
The new school became operational a little over two months ago, and where pupils had previously sat on poles or on the floor, text books resting upon their knees, they were now sat on new chairs behind real desks!
With only three days at the project, our time was fully occupied not only visiting the school but attending a series of meetings with relevant committees and officials, all of whom had a direct involvement with the project.
The new constructions at the Adet School
It was immediately apparent that the school had/has had a massive impact on a number of different levels:
In discussion with the local community group, whose membership ranges from peasant farmers to government officials and the town Elder, we were told of their joy and happiness following the opening of the school. Where previously, as the old school, which was to be condemned, was already over subscribed, children were forced to walk over 80 kilometres to the next nearest school.
Spending several nights living rough if they did not have friends or relatives to accommodate them. This attracted many dangers, particularly to female’s pupils who were frequently attacked, abducted, raped and sexually abused. Since the opening of the school there have been none, the children are safe.
Meaning so much
The Elder explained that the school represented so much to the community, safety for their children, a learning environment where pupils could study in relative comfort with more adequate resources to meet the needs of the pupils and teaching staff.
It must be said that good facilities are likely to trigger a virtuous circle of academic improvement, in contrast to the opposing cycle which often occurs when facilities are poor, teacher morale is low and community involvement and ownership is limited. Whilst Brass Band Aid has been instrumental in providing essential funds to undertake the building work, the key to the projects success rests firmly in the dedication, hard work and partnership fostered by the local community and their desperate need to maintain a school in the area.
What the Adet School was like...
Selling what little spare food they had, selling clothes, all but those they were wearing, in an attempt to contribute and ensure the provision of an education for their children is nothing short of miraculous given the levels of poverty and deprivation they experience.
The Area Development Manager, Anely from World Vision explained: “Thanks to the support of Brass Band Aid the new school has given us a renewed hope for the future, which was now full of aspiration; the school is the heart of the town, a source of great pride and happiness for everyone in the district both far and wide”.
Happy to attend
Whilst at the school our access to pupils was limited as this was National Examination week, and to give you an idea of the importance placed upon this, several guards armed with rifles patrolled the school to prevent any possible disruption to the pupils!
However we did manage to speak to one or two pupils who explained, “We are so happy to attend the new school, having seats and desks to work from are a real luxury and the class sizes are reduced from 90 - 100 pupils to an average of 60”. We no longer have to walk for a day to attend school so we have more time for study and to help out with work for our families.”
It is clear that the children and young people of Adet are desperately reaching out for learning as a lifeline from poverty and making the most of the opportunities presented to them, many of the pupils aspiring to be Doctors, teachers and lawyers and who knows, maybe future Education ministers!
Although their remains much to do, we would like to thank everyone who has and continues to support Brass Band Aid for this amazing achievement. BBA supporters should celebrate the fact that they have contributed significantly in changing a small part Africa’s educational landscape.
As Nelson Mandela said, "Education is the door to freedom, democracy and development", I am confident Brass Band Aid has opened one of those doors.
PS. There is still quite a lot of work to be undertaken and although the project is nearing the final stages, we still need your support, so get on board for the final push, we need to raise another 5-6 thousand pounds, buy the CD’s buy the book, arrange a concert, you are making a difference!
For more information google Brass Band Aid, or give me a call 07786 027209 or via e mail: email@example.com
Many thanks for your continued support
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