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Queniborough Teachers Visit Yekatit 23

By 13th November 2013School Links

We recently blogged about a school link between Queniborough and Yekatit 23. Two teachers from Queniborough, Lindsay Jones and Helen Francis went out to visit their link school. What follows is blog about their trip from their point of view, providing a valuable insight into the benefits of visiting a link school. Yekatit 23 is situated in the town of Bahir Dar in northern Ethiopia.

“On arrival to Yekatit 23 we were immediately made welcome with a traditional coffee ceremony. The children danced and sang for us and the Kindergarten class welcomed us with a bunch of flowers each. We spent the day observing lessons in our link school. It was clear that there is a huge difference between our education systems. In Ethiopia, each child learns from the same textbook and lessons are based on rote learning with limited opportunities for children to be creative. The resources were very limited but each child has a pen and a pad of paper on which to write.

The children that we met at Yekatit 23 were so willing to learn and they greatly appreciate the education they are receiving. They aspire to be the best they can be and work really hard to achieve their goals. Observing the very basic lessons made us thoroughly appreciate the education system and resources our children have access to and made us really value our school ethos and aims.

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The next day was a national holiday so we went to visit the surrounding area with two of the teachers from Yekatit 23, Abundeje and Mullu. In the morning, we went on a boat trip on Lake Tana – the source of the Blue Nile. It is a beautiful and relaxing place to visit. We visited the monasteries and had an opportunity to visit a traditional village on one of the islands. We were treated to a traditional lunch at Abundeje’s house which consisted of injera with a variety of other foods and of course, a coffee ceremony. Later in the afternoon, we visited the picturesque Blue Nile Falls.

On the Wednesday we really ‘got stuck in’ with the teaching. In the morning, we spent a lot of time with the children in the Kindergarten class. We taught them some songs and some very simple number activities which they really seemed to enjoy. At the end of the morning, we gave each child a pack from the parents of our Foundation Stage and Year 1 children which included school supplies and a simple letter. It was very emotional watching the children beaming as they opened their packs and clung so tightly to them. Later that day, we taught English to two classes and shared letters from our Year 2 pupils.

The next day was our last full day and we completed a music project and our enterprise project. We taught a group of children at Yekatit 23 one of our children’s favourite songs and recorded the performance. Since visiting, we have shown this video to our children and they have sung along so that it sounds like they are all singing together, united as friends.

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Throughout our visit we also saw the difference that Link Ethiopia’s Child Sponsorship Programme makes. Link Ethiopia representatives visited to give out children’s sponsor packs which included shoes, uniform and school supplies. Spending a week in school has shown us how beneficial these basic packs are to each sponsor child.

Our enterprise project was one of the most rewarding parts of our visit. We spent some time sitting under the trees in their school compound teaching eight children how to make friendship bracelets. They listened so well and picked up how to make them easily and quickly. By the end of the session, more and more children kept sneaking in to the group so that they could help out with the friendship bracelets and our numbers had doubled! The teachers at Yekatit 23 are going to send over all of the friendship bracelets when they are finished so that our ‘Kids Who Care’ team can sell them back in Queniborough to raise money for their friends in Ethiopia.

We also had the opportunity to pass on gifts from families in our school to their sponsored children. This was very rewarding and we saw how grateful each child was for a simple gift such as a set of new clothes or a book.

On the Friday morning we said goodbye to our new friends at Yekatit 23 and headed off to the airport to catch our connecting flight to Addis. We had an amazing time and have learnt a lot from experiencing first hand how our link school operates and how we can best create positive and meaningful links.