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Jess' Blog No.11 - Day 5

By Jessica Wilkes-Reading

Jess' Blog No.11 - Day 5

Wesleyan's CR and Charity Coordinator Jessica Wilkes-Reading, and retired dentist and Wesleyan customer Jane Innes-Rees have been in Ethiopia visiting various projects to see what support people from the UK are providing - and what more can be done.

Previously, Jess received an emotional welcome at Elshadai Children's Village and took a tour of the school. But the days of travelling and experiencing both heart warming, and heartbreaking, sights, have begun to take their toll...


This visit to Ethiopia has been an incredible experience. But it has also been tough. Nothing could have prepared me for the sights, the sounds and, yes, even the smells of this amazing country.

Which goes someway to explaining why I woke up on Friday morning with a killer of a migraine. The emotion, the 13 hour days, the altitude and struggling to acclimatise to the 27 degree weather in November, was taking its toll and I hit the wall. Jane and the team set off to the Ayder Hospital, while I was sent back to bed for a rest.

Jane eventually came back to collect me at lunchtime and we went for a walk down to the covered market where in between the imported goods, there were some really lovely authentic Ethiopian goods. A trip is planned to the proper market later in the week.

Fresh air and a coffee did me the world of good and we spent the afternoon pottering around town. In the evening we met up with our friend Tesfai to talk about the Elshadai Children's Village, our visit and what we could do to help in the UK.

He took us to a great pizza place (I have lived mostly on pizza and pasta this week!) that was on the rooftop. There was a HUGE TV screen showing English Premier League football attached to the side of the building. This country is football mad! There is a whole channel just for football matches, chat and insight. Sadly there is no such channel for my favourite, rugby...

Tesfai talked about the children's village with such energy and it made Colleen, Chris and me more excited about the trip back there on Sunday.

We then went to an Ethiopian club/bar called Stockholm where we met a couple of Tesfai's friends, including one man who was injured in the fighting in the early 80s and was sent to the UK for treatment.

He was then granted asylum and attended Edinburgh University. He is now an accountant living and working in London with two grown up children at university. He then told us how he wanted to give something back to the UK for the support we had given him so he now fosters two children. He is an incredibly inspiring man.

I have met many people over here all who have a story to tell and have an ambition to be the best they can be. Everyone has a skill or a trade, and most teenagers who work in the day in jobs such as retail and hospitality attend evening classes to make the most of the education that is on offer. It is so inspiring to see so many young people wanting to take every opportunity that is available.

Tomorrow, it's another early start. We need to get up and out at 6am to meet Mulbrahan and his cyclists of the future and hear all about his career as a pro-cyclist and what he now does to support children, including those who are homeless and just need that bit of support.

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