VLM Ethiopia AMBO trip
In late June 2011 Eoin Hanlon, David Baigel, James Carroll, Ruadhan O’Riordan, Paul Maher and myself Cormac Fagan set out from Dublin Airport with three of our teachers; Shane Cassidy, James O’ Loughlin and Oisín O’Cuinnegáin. Following a flight change in Schipol, an unplanned stop in Cairo and a refuelling stop in Khartoum we arrived in Addis Ababa. Having spent over 18 hours travelling we were eager to get some food and sleep at the Vincentian Community School in Addis Ababa before setting out for Ambo the following morning.
Ambo is a couple of hours drive west of the capital. Upon arriving at the Vincentian Community School in Ambo we were greeted by Fr. Gemechu, our excellent host and a singing group of some of the children we would be teaching over the next two weeks. Over the two weeks we split into 3 groups taking three classes a day each. We taught English and some Maths. It was extremely enjoyable to teach and see how eager the students were to learn. We would spend each day teaching from 9am until 2pm, and the afternoon playing with the students. We had a few football matches between Castleknock and Ambo United FC, we were well beaten each time. Myself, James and Oisín taught a group of students ranging in age from 12-18 years old. It was very much a learning experience for us too, to teach students whose level of English varied greatly. We did a lot of work on conversation, grammar and sentence structuring.
During the two weeks we also got to sample plenty of Ethiopian Culture. We all developed a love of (in my case an addiction to) Ethiopian coffee due to our attendance at a number of coffee ceremonies. We were lucky to be in Ambo during Ethiopia’s rainy season, watching the daily rain and spectacular lightning storms is one of my favourite memories from my time there.
At the time we arrived the land had just been purchased for the new deaf school in Ambo. We also visited the leprosy village, it was an eye-opening experience to see how happy and welcoming the people were despite their very difficult conditions.
In conclusion, I feel very lucky to have been able to travel to Ambo with the college. It was an fantastic experience to see and participate in the service that the Vincentian community provide in Ambo. I have been looking forward to returning to Africa ever since.