Life at Bingham Academy, Addis Ababa
The following is an excerpt from my journal written while visiting our daughter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last December.
Tuesday 6th December: Addis Ababa
At 6am we were all up so that we could go for a half hour walk around the school oval. During our walk I was able to get some close up views of a Hooded Vulture on the ground. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me (I did get good shots a few days later). We went back to Rose’s apartment just as the sun was rising. We had breakfast and then attended staff devotions at 7:45am.
The students started arriving at the end of devotions and the small car park became a conglomeration of cars, taxis and mini buses as well as students, not quite as crazy as outside on the streets but busy for a few minutes all the same. We accompanied Rose to her home classroom for notices, roll call and prayer time. They are a lively group of typical year 7s.
During the morning I did some reading, wrote in this journal, sent a few emails and wrote three poems. Later we joined the staff for morning tea, chatting with several during the break. In the late afternoon I went for a walk along the perimeter fence and managed several bird photos. I also saw and photographed one of the school tortoises, of which they have six. Later we both helped Rose with the Horizon Boys programme again.
Rose and Sylvia’s housekeeper cooked a lovely lasagne for our dinner. At 6pm we were driven by one of the teachers to St Matthew’s Anglican Church for a musical programme of songs, Christmas carols and excerpts from The Messiah. The programme was interesting and varied and very enjoyable. I estimated that the church could comfortably seat about 150, but over 300 crowded in, packed tightly, with standing room only for at least 50 latecomers. The programme went for about one and half hours.
St. Matt’s is Rose’s church of choice in Addis. She normally attends the Sunday evening service with usually 20 – 30 attending. The morning service sees about 50 attending. They provide breakfasts for up to 200 local school children daily. They also have a study library in their complex with up to 200 children using it daily and over 1000 contacts with students in the neighbourhood. Quite an outreach potential.
The trip back to Bingham Academy was far quicker than earlier in the evening as the traffic was moving more smoothly. Despite that, traffic is quite horrendous at all times with cars seemingly going in all directions and none keeping any semblance of staying in lanes. Most traffic is only travelling at 20kph so most incidents are minor. Of more concern is the vast number of pedestrians who largely ignore the traffic and use all parts of the road as a footpath. Like many developing countries, the car horn is an essential driving tool.
Most distressing on our return trip was the vast number of homeless people sleeping on the footpath. Most only had a single blanket and they were all sleeping on the ground. One person I spoke to claimed that the population of great Addis Ababa is about 7 million; one million of them are homeless. The problem is enormous; what can one person do? I know very little of local politics but the enormous waste of money and resources in places like Australia, America and elsewhere, is a moral and social catastrophe. What a difference some of that money would make in places like Ethiopia.