We first met Lemma’s family back in 2007. They remain the most hospitable and generous family that I have ever met. Lemma created a school within his property for children local to his neighbourhood. This has stood the test of time. My friend Clare has been visiting Lemma’s school every Saturday to teach two English language classes. I had the privilege of going with her this weekend. We chose a vehicle with good clearance from the ground to cope with a particularly bad pothole that we knew must be crossed, and travelled out of Addis into Oromo country.
There were around 35-40 children in the first class squashed 3 or 4 to a desk made for 2. The classroom was bare except for the blackboard, so lessons were possible in the same manner as my teaching in the UK began 30 years ago. The children already knew some of the fruit and vegetable names, and these they put into a sentence such as ‘I like …’ or ‘I don’t like …’ Apple is not easily available here and quite expensive, so was not popular with the class, however banana was enjoyed by all. The children spoke Oromo as their first language but were learning both English and Amharic.
However my real reason for going today was a very happy one. Clare has been sharing the care of two young boys that stay with her at weekends. Both had been brought to Lemma’s family to care for, as home circumstances were difficult. Clare has decided to foster both boys and the foster care paperwork for the oldest boy required signing in the presence of witnesses today. The boy’s father had travelled to Lemma’s for the purpose.
We sat in Lemma’s lounge and were served a selection of carbonated drinks. Then the meal of pasta with a spicy paste and bread arrived. The quantities were generous and the meal unhurried. The house-worker (who also lives on Lemma’s property with her cute two year old) prepared coffee in the traditional way. This was served with popcorn. Following the meal Lemma indicated he was ready for the paperwork. Our school Amharic teacher, who also speaks Oromo was with us and she ensured that everyone understood the content of the documents which were duly signed. Photographs were taken and all parties were obviously happy.
We all wish Clare well in her new family life.