Summary of our trip:
We had a meeting with NADDE's office the same afternoon we landed in Asmara. Along with our coordinators of AaronK Foundation. We met the president, the coordinator and board members at NADDE.
AaronKfoundation Doanted 16 book on different kinds of disability .Nadde expressed gratitude for enriching their mini library at their small office, and thanked AaronKFoundation for our dedication and for what we stand for.
The next day, the office arranged for us to go visit a special education class room in Medeber, Asmara. There, we met three parents of special needs, and about 50 Students and their teachers. The teachers introduced us to the students, showed us the programs, they use to educate the students and we met with some of the students who are athletes and showed us the trophy they won for their running achievements. They were so proud as we were of them.
Before this class room opened, there were no schools for special needs in Eritrea: Nadde has fought for the right of special needs and advocated for inclusion of children in the school system since 2013. The kids were so excited and we really had a great time connecting with them, they even challenged us to compete running and play soccer with them after our visit in the class room was over. Of course we all failed our running races with them miserably and had a lot of fun trying!
After talking with the teachers and the parents committee, we found out some of the many needs the students have. The class room is small and at the far back corner of the school. the materials used to build the classroom didn't look durable and strong enough to withstand wear and tear and it’s not accessible.
The one small rest room they share is a squat toilet which is so difficult for some of the kids to use, while a commode chair would make such a big difference for the kids.
On the following days, NADDE arranged a home visit for us to meet three parents of the most severely disabled children who don't go to school. It was amazing to meet those strong parents who were really trying to help their Children with special needs with the limited resources that they have. It was a very humbling experience for us. It really makes one grateful of what we have here in USA for our children with special needs. And it helped us see in a new light the importance and maginitude , AaronK foundation and donors, contribute to those kids and families.
We finally had to say good bye to the parents and members of NADDE that were there with us the whole time. We decided to keep in touch in order for NADDE to follow up with the most urgent needs they have as an organization, so that we can start our next project in 2020.
Status of "The Promise" project:
On March 10, 2019, We finally shipped 5 wheelchairs, the remaining books(10) and 5 therapy mats to Eritrea via ship. It took about 5 months to deliver. And all package we sent arrived in Eritrea in June, 2018.
We received a thank you letter from NADDE that we’re sharing at the end of this blog because without our Donors this would have not been possible.
NADDE distributed the wheelchairs to the children that most need them. They also gave the therapy mats to the class room we visited back in December 2017. It was really amazing to receive pictures where people were very excited and to know that we have made a difference no matter how small and no matter how many more needs they have.
We had set out to accomplish something and we have done it as a non-profit organization. We thank our board members:
Senait Abraha: CEO/Chair of Board
Marco Piccigallo: President
Yoseph Yemane: Vice Excutive Director
lamiae mghari kralj: Secretary
David Driesbach: Treasurer
And Catherine Ford: A consultant for project managment.
For their courage, giving their time from their busy work scheduel and their family to make this happen. I am incredibly proud of every one for the gift that they are to these children and the valuable asset they are to AaaronKfoundation. We’re also very proud of NADDE for their relentless dedication to the children with special needs and for being a voice to the voiceless.
The journey is hard for parents of Children with special needs, and with very limited resources and a harsh economical environment, they persevere. They brought tears to our eyes when we met them , we saw their love, tenacity and dedication no matter what the circumstances. And Its our promise to continue to do our part in their journey.