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A Dream Realized

I again find myself living in Hosanna, working at the library and setting up many programs for the community. The library has always been my heart. Now when I go, it is filled with students. The main room sometimes has not a seat left open. Everyone is studying for their national exams at the end of May. They are high school students, 10th, 11th and 12th grade students, male and female. All using the “reference books” donated by last year’s 12th grade students. It is touching to see how dedicated they are. They all have such aspirations, airplane engineer, doctor, pilot, and lawyer. They clearly know that their future depends on their doing well in the exams. Here there are high stakes exams. If you do well, you will have college free. If you do well you can go up through PhD. Free. Room board, tuition. Not much food, not an easy life but it is there if you are willing to try hard and sacrifice. The library provides a safe, quiet space to study and books to use to prepare. I never thought about this service but the students’ did. I was always afraid that we were working so hard to build the building I was wondering if anyone would use it. Now I see I did not have to worry. 

The young children come too. Every day the kindergarten class comes to the library. It is like a field trip for them. We have all types of books. We need to get more board books for them. We have small little rubber colorful cars, trucks and planes that everyone loves. It was so cute to see them all taking the plane and pretending to make it fly. Just like our youngsters do. We have a two wooden puzzles but we need more. There are 12 tables of children. We need at least one puzzle for each table. Then we have 3 trays of wooden blocks. We hope to get more trays of blocks for them too. They didn’t even know what to do with them.  We now have a puppet theater and lots of puppets. My next goal is to do a small training of the Kindergarten teachers and the first grade teachers and show them what they can do in the library with their children. We are hoping to get a CD player and play children’s music for them to sing along. They can use the felt letters that a volunteer so generously cut for them. And we have so many colorful books to read and to see in 3 languages, Amharic, the working language of Ethiopia, Hadyssa, the local language, and English. They need all three and are tested on them all to get into 9th grade.  There is so much potential and so much that can be done. Now that I am here for a while, we can do a lot to get the young children involved.

It is great to see the Library Cub students every day. There are 6th and 8th grade girls. They love to come to “my room”, the store. It is a good size room with lots of books and now a printer and other things like soccer balls we will be distributing and lovely skirts that someone made for us to give to needy children.  We have DVD’s and VHS tapes to show the young children, students and adults to learn English and to have fun. We are hoping to have a movie night and show children movies on a regular basis in the children’s room. The Library Club happens to be all girls. They come every day and help me organize the books and materials. They are practicing to do a performance for the parents. They have created a little fashion show from a book of different ways to accessorize with scarfs and they will take turns reading a book about a girl with an imagination. They are a delight and made me many drawings yesterday for my bedroom.

Now thanks to the contribution of many we will have a computer room at the library. We had an office used by a supervisor. But we knocked down the wall and will have 25 computers networked with a server. Everyone is VERY excited. We already have a staff person, with a degree in Computer Science from Addis. Fitsum has agreed to come to Hosanna and has been a terrific help already in so many ways. The town will pay for the monthly internet starting July and the parents have agreed to pay for the internet from now until June. The town added another librarian, so now there are 4, two each shift and an ICT person, all town employees. Everyone is so supportive and excited to be able to use the computers for the first time.

This simple report doesn’t begin to convey the impact that the library has had. The government now claims it is the only town with a modern library in the southern state. The teachers get to come and read books on the subject they teach. The administration has put it in their evaluation of teachers, - they are expected to come to the library to read books. The youth have a quiet place there they can study and have textbooks that they don’t have for themselves. The young children have a fun place to learn and create. And me, I am touched so deeply every day by the gratitude and outpouring of love by everyone. I am filled with hope for this wonderful community and the youth. They have a good chance in life and are willing to work hard to grab it. I feel blessed to be a part of this process and so grateful to all of our supporters who have helped make this happen. I Hope you can feel the joy too!!

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