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 FUN AND GAMES: Parachute games featured regularly during the activity week the students ran for special needs children

FUN AND GAMES: Parachute games featured regularly during the activity week the students ran for special needs children 

10:00am Thursday 25th November 2010

By Richard Crease »

FROM the minute we entered the classroom greeted by hugs and kisses, we knew we’d never see life the same way again.

We had been in Ethiopia for just 24 hours and were still trying to adjust to the shocking conditions in one of the world’s poorest countries.

In hindsight, I don’t think that any of us were quite prepared for the huge impact the week was going to have on us.

As a member of the local community I was accompanying a group of 17 students from Oakmead College of Technology in Bournemouth, who together with The Cred Foundation were running The Zone, an activity week for special needs children in the slums of the capital Addis Ababa.

Hosted by the Integrated Holistic Approach Urban Development Project, they work with the poorest communities to identify, prioritise and then put into action sustainable programmes in housing upgrading, community development and primary healthcare.

The children we were working with had a range of autism-related disorders, resulting in them being relegated to the bottom of the pecking order.

And when it comes to living on the equivalent of a few pounds a month, their families have a tough choice to make.

Thanks to the work at this much-needed project, which provides schooling and a hot meal, there is some hope.

But these children need so much more.

The Zone week not only provides them with some fun and the luxury of one-to-one attention but also some respite and support for the few overstretched staff.

On a more practical level we were also able to re-stock their cupboards with resources, equipment and toys donated by family and friends at home.

It was an emotional week for all of the team but the way the students rose to the task was admirable.

The word I’d use to describe the trip is “challenging”, both physically and mentally.

We were immersed in the overwhelming needs of this beautiful country and its amazingly friendly and generous people.

We experienced what true community spirit is in the face of such adversity.

It’s what you have when you have nothing but you still want to share that.

Source:  http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/8686131.Giving_hope_to_special_needs_children_in_Ethiopia/



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