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Sports Day Birthday!!

ETHIOPIA | Monday, 14 May 2012 | Views [580]

This past Thursday was sports day as well as my birthday. I was nervous to see how the sports day would turn out. I have learned with weeks of planning and meetings that things never go quite as planned. I tried to be as organized as possible (planning events is definitely not my biggest talent). The teams and volunteers were all signed up and I told them to be sure to only sign up if they were sure they could make it. I posted the teams in the school to remind themof their team numbers and jobs, as well as the order of events for the afternoon. The students helped me get everything set up, but unfortunately not everybody showed up… typical. There was some last minute organizing of teams, and explaining to new volunteers what their job was. The students have a bad habit of nodding in agreement with things I say, but then not totally understanding what it is I am trying to get across to them. I was very happy therefore when Dr. Ralphs team showed up along with Gudisa. He works for HOPEthiopia as a social worker and speaks Orominia. He was awesome and helped me get things moving. I truly could not have done it without hime! The teachers helped me put a few posters up around the town earlier that week so tons of people showed up to watch, maybe two or three hundred, many of them high school students. I heard a rumor later that some people thought I would be doing a demonstration of my taekwondo skills… I was flattered. I’m getting better but my talents are definitely not worthy of a crowd. Maybe its just the idea of a white girl doing sports here that would attract some interest.


The first event was the 100 m dash. One person from each team ran, and at the finish their place was recorded before the next team member’s ran. I was a bit disappointed when the girls who had signed up to run decided not to participate. Not only did it make for fewer teams, but I was really excited to have them competing alongside the guys.


The tug of war caused a lot of excitement and chaos. I learned the reason behind the police attending football games. People want to be right in the action. Instead of watching from the sidelines as they had been, people decided to crowd around in a circle around the rope, standing right beside it. I appointed some of the kids as security and had to walk around and around trying to push people back. “Move back, Widuhalla, widuhalla!” It didn’t seem to matter to them that they were going to get hit by the people pulling the rope. It was a lot of fun to watch the tug of war though! The crowd loved it and there were some really close matches!


We purchased a really nice football (soccer ball) from Addis as a raffle prize. Some of the students sold raffle tickets and we chose the winner after the tug of war. They sold 44 tickets and raised 220 birr. The idea behind it was that they could take some ownership for some of the money coming in to purchase materials for their school. Yes people in Canada donated money, but they also put some work into raising money themselves. Ashenafi, one of the students showed some of his gymnastic talents. He can do flips and hand springs and walkovers and is extremely flexible.


The last event was the relay race. We had a practice last week where we went through the events but I guess the kids that were at the practice were the ones that decided not to come. It took some time to get organized and to explain how it would work. Yay for Gudisa!! He really was a Godsend! When it got going though it was super exciting! The kids ran really hard and the crowd cheered them on.


Afterwards we gave out the prizes and took pictures. Getu, the man who runs the photo studio in town came with his digital camera and took pictures for me. There was no power Friday so I have been unable to get them but I will post a lot of pictures next time I’m in Addis! All in all it was a success. I am very relieved that it is over and that the kids had fun!


I stayed at the school afterwards until dark playing football with the teachers. They are really fun to play with!


Not many people celebrate birthday’s here, in fact not many people actually know when their real birth date is so they usually do not celebrate past the age of 10. I was really happy when they didn’t mind me wanting to celebrate my day. The tradition here is that you invite people over, and give them food to eat. My neighbors were awesome in helping me prepare! Merge made bread for me earlier that day, and in the evening she prepared a coffee ceremony. Fifteen of my friends from HOPEthiopia, taekwondo, and the health center came. We ate popcorn, banana’s, bread, kolo (roasted barley) and drank coffee and wine. It was a lot of fun! They even sang me happy birthday a couple times. I really upbeat version mixed with Amharic.


My one friend, Mahlet, is a health officer at the health center. She left at the beginning of the week for her annual leave of three weeks. I talked to her on Wednesday and she said she wouldn’t be able to come as she had planned to celebrate my birthday. I was surprised then when she showed up at my door before lunch with a big hug. She said she saw on facebook that my friends from home had written things like, “sorry you can’t celebrate with friends this year”, on my wall. She decided that I couldn’t celebrate without friends so she came all the way from Addis, dragging one of her friends with her, only to go back later that afternoon. What a sweetie! She also brought with her a card from herself and a letter from Rilla wishing me a happy birthday. I had a good laugh because she said she didn’t actually miss me like she wrote because I was, at that moment, sitting across from her reading my book. But she was sure she would miss me by the time this day came. Rilla never forgot a holiday this year. I was so excited to get that letter from her! I also heard from a couple of my friends that she called. My phone has really bad service so she was unable to reach me, so she told them to wish me a happy birthday. They were so excited that she had called that hearing from them was almost better then getting to talk to her myself, just to see their excitement!

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