Friends of Fresh and Green Academy board members Trish Hack-Rubinstein, Gregg Rubinstein, Lyuba Halkyn, and International Foodie and Writer, Elyse Pasquale spent the week of April 24, 2011 with the amazing children at Fresh and Green Academy. The group arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia the evening before Easter, an important holiday for the Ethiopian Orthodox population. Orthodox ceremonies and festivities took place throughout the night and into the day of Easter.
At the start of the school week the board consulted with Ms. Muday Mitiku, director of Fresh and Green Academy, about the immediate needs of the school and its students. Construction of a new bathroom facility, which includes a separate boys and girls restroom, was a top priority and approved. The former bathroom facility was substandard and dilapidated. New facility construction began immediately after board approval. A team of eight to ten donkeys brought supplies to the school mounted on their backs lead by their herder. “It was such an unusual sight for us, as Westerners, to see how a construction project is actually implemented in a developing nation in a local community of a capital city,” stated Lyuba Halkyn. The new bathroom facility was complete by the end of the week.
Throughout the week, Dr. Gregg Rubinstein, Chiropractor, spent time with the children, their mothers, Fresh and Green Academy staff, and other locals who heard of his expertise. He performed Chiropractic Adjustments in addition to explaining aspects of overall health and wellness.
The children at Fresh and Green Academy continue to develop and demonstrate that they love to learn and flourish in their school environment. They enjoy playing games with the volunteers and are always eager to show off their written assignments and their verbal knowledge of educational and creative material. The visiting group joined in and participated in Ethiopian children’s games and taught the children some common games played in the U.S. By the end of the week the children of Fresh and Green Academy requested Western games, such as the Hokey Pokey and Follow the Leader, during times of free play.
The second and third graders attend a music class several times a week, in which a very talented music instructor teaches them how to play keyboards in addition to a more technical aspect of music theory. The music teacher assists the children to demonstrate their knowledge of the material presented, and inspires their musical creativity.
The visiting volunteers took pictures of each child with a Polaroid sticker camera and made cards for each of them to take home. The children were excited to be able to have a photo of themselves, as school photos and cameras are a luxury.
At the end of the week, when it was time to return to New York, the group regretted saying goodbye to the children. “It is always difficult for us, as volunteers, to explain to the kids that we have been here all week and now must return to our own realities. On the flip side, knowing that I will return and visit the kids sometime later this year, makes parting a little bit easier. The children’s growth and development, thanks to an excellent educational facility and three nutritious meals provided daily by the school, aids in their overall well being,” shares Lyuba Halkyn of her experiences at Fresh and Green Academy.