Children are special to all of us. The fact that some are born into an environment of absolute poverty makes them no less special. While ACTS efforts are aimed at improving the welfare of communities at large, our focus is on children. In the communities in which we work, there are no orphanages. Instead, relatives or sometimes neighbors, take in those children who have lost their parents. In an area of the world where so much effort is expended just to maintain a subsistence level, extra mouths to feed can be a substantial burden. Providing a daily hot meal for these impoverished youngsters is one of the most important things those involved with ACTS can do. For most, it is life changing, for some it is life giving.
For those who are severely malnourished, the school day begins with a supplemental meal. For the rest, it begins with an hour of instruction in reading Amharic, the native language of Ethiopia. During this first hour, several students will straggle in after the appointed start time. Some of these little ones are walking from several miles away, unaccompanied by parents who have already begun their daily chores like fetching water for the family, tending to the animals or tilling the soil. Time spent eking out an existence is too precious to be spent walking a child to school.
As the day progresses, lessons in math and English are taught. There is always time for singing. It is a pleasure to see a room full of kids enthusiastically belting out songs in their native language and in English! Time playing outside with their classmates, especially when a soccer ball is available, is a time of great fun and laughter.
Providing these children with a positive environment outside of the confines of their dark mud huts brings much joy to both the ACTS donors and to the recipients including both the children and their parents or caregivers. The day that visitors arrive or the distribution of shoes or “new uniform” day are highlights. So is the day of the annual field trip when ACTS take the children away from the school area to expose them to new and different surroundings.
When ACTS children leave the school program and go on to government school, they are healthier, more intellectually curious and more prepared to thrive in a learning environment.