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Jess' Blog No.9 - Day4: Part 1

By Jessica Wilkes-Reading

Jess' Blog No.9 - Day4: Part 1

Elshadai Children's Village

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

Today, Jess visits Elshadai Children's Village to meet volunteers changing the lives of orphaned children.

Another busy today, with the first stop being a return to Ayder Referral Hospital in Mekelle to finish decorating the playroom on the children's ward.

We were asked to carry the rainbow around the wall, which we were more than happy to do as we know it will bring so much happiness to the children and their families. In fact, the Tigray Health Bureau were so impress with the designed and the images from Wesleyan's children's book, 'The Unstoppable Maggie McGee', that they want to roll it out across all of their clinics. Maggie has gone international!!

Elizabeth, a second year medical student, who helped us paint the playroom, has been tasked with leading the decorating project at the rest of the clinics. I am so, SO proud of the team for pulling this all together.

After lunch (which included my first ever avocado. Yes, really!) we set off to Elshadai. The winding road took us through some amazing scenery. We saw goats, cattle and sheep sharing the road with cars and huge lorries. There was even a camel train on the way back!

Six years ago, the Swiss built a suspension bridge across the gorge. In European terms, it's not the most spectacular of bridges, but out here it has changed the locals' way of life, cutting nearly two hours off their journey across the valley.

Again, getting the right infrastructure in place makes a world of difference to the people of Africa, and this was another brilliant example of it in action.

A welcome to remember

Arriving in the town of Wukro we turned down the track to Elshadai Children's Village and were greeted by a sight I'm going to remember for the rest of my life and is undoubtedly the highlight of my career.

All the children were there ready to meet us, dressed in their finest clothes, singing, chanting, clapping and ready to welcome us into their home.

Some of the smaller children had bouquets of flowers and signs welcoming us. I was handed my flowers by five-year-old Farna. She guided me through the village to the school buildings and never once let go of my hand - she was just beaming from ear to ear.

We were all humbled and incredibly emotional at this amazing welcome. Thank goodness for sunglasses, because there were more than a few tears being shed!

Walking in a huge group, the teenage girls, wearing traditional Ethiopian dress, laid down grass on the floor for us to all walk along and threw popcorn in the air. This was followed by a huge group of children all singing in unison.

There are simply not enough words to describe it...

In Part 2, Jess spends an afternoon at the school, and learns about the British influence in their lessons.

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