Blog Entry Week 8- Monday 10/27 to Sunday 11/2
All of last week was spent preparing for Happy Halloween at Layla House (for some reason the kids call the holiday 'Happy Halloween'). During crafts class we had the kids wrap aluminum foil around cardboard to make swords or use aluminum foil and pipe cleaners (which the kids call 'kinks') to make tiaras. They really got in to their projects- especially when we told them they could decorate their projects with glitter glue! I never thought that I would be able to say that I could make a bomb tiara out of aluminum foil and pipe cleaners in less than 5 minutes but I can now count that as one of my talents! We also helped the kids make masks out of construction paper, markers, crayons, pom-poms and feathers. For the younger groups we had them make their masks during activities class. However, the older kids don't have activities class so we had to block off the dining room one afternoon after school instead. It ended up being very hectic because the younger kids wanted to make a second mask and just wanted to see the older kids make their masks. In order to keep them out of the dining room the two entrances needed to be constantly manned by one of the volunteers! One good thing was that the older kids didn't need any help making their masks like the younger kids did.
In America class we carved pumpkins that were displayed with candles on Happy Halloween. Since we didn't want the kids using knives we had the groups choose 2 designs at the beginning of class and one of us would cut off the top of the pumpkin and cut out the design. But we did let them get dirty and pull the guts out of the pumpkin! In the group 5 class we did give in and let some of the older boys help cut in to the pumpkin. We figured that if they know how to kill and gut sheep then pumpkins are probably not that difficult!
On the day of Happy Halloween we got the Haunted House ready after school and changed in to our costumes. Anna was a witch, Alan was a baby (we found a huge baby bottle in the storeroom and ended up making him a bonnet), Mark was a ghost/ghoul and I was a fairy. I was supposed to be a ballerina but my tutu made of pink garbage bags refused to stick out so Anna and I decided I looked more like a fairy. Oh and that's right, they have pink garbage bags here (I love Ethiopia)! Anna started helping the kids paint their faces before and during dinner. After the kids ate dinner we got their masks, swords and tiaras from the teacher's lounge only to find out that even though we had so carefully kept them separated by group all week they had been placed in one huge pile. This created mass hysteria when trying to pass them out and resulted in some kids not getting the right mask, sword or tiara or not getting one at all. Not to mention that while we were trying to pass out the kids' projects, the KG classes came in and most of them were petrified of Mark and all the older boys who were wearing capes and had their faces painted with fake blood. However, everything settled down when we lined up the kids and got them ready for trick-or-treating. Each of the volunteers, Gail (the director of Layla House), one of the teachers and one of the older boys manned a bedroom and passed out either candy, stickers or fruit. It was hilarious to hear the kids try to say 'trick-or-treat'! The younger kids had a much more difficult time with pronouncing it but even some the older kids were saying 'trick-or-trick' or 'treat-or-treat' instead.
After trick-or-treating was over the kids got in line for the Haunted House! Anna, Mark and Alan were inside the Haunted House and since I don't like anything scary I manned the door with Gail outside. Although I did have the idea to create a bowl of detached hands and intestines (basically rubber gloves filled with frozen water and cooked spaghetti noodles)! The kids were so funny waiting in line because they kept saying that they weren't going to be scared but once they got inside we could here them screaming! Although all of the younger girls were shaking and holding on to each other for dear life when they made it to the front of the line. Once they were inside some of the kids even fell down and the older ones were yelling 'Finished! Finished!' One older girl even told us she got so scared she 'pee-peed' her jeans! But by the time they got out they were laughing and wanting to go through again. After everyone had gone through the Haunted House we lit the bonfire and read scary stories beside the fire. Three of my favorite girls from Group 1A cuddled up and fell asleep on my lap and leaning on me. The best part of the night was picking them up and putting them in bed once the fire died down! The older boys also had a great time dressing up and creating their own costumes. Some of the sweetest boys actually ended up having the scariest costumes! I was also surprised that the kids wanted to be scared as much as they did. Maybe it's because I'm an adult and I hate everything scary but I just couldn't have imagined that 6 and 7 year old girls would want to go through a Haunted House more than once or that a 15 year old girl would admit that she was so scared she peed her pants a little bit! While it was a long day for myself and the other volunteers, it was worth it to celebrate Happy Halloween with at Layla.
On Saturday, Alan, Anna, Mark and I took Tseegay (the nurse at Layla) out to dinner. Before we went on our trip she helped us find the right bus station in Addis and helped us make our hotel reservation at Lake Langano so we were returning her generosity. We also have to interrupt her day quite often because we take children to see her for medical reasons so we felt like we owed her a relaxing dinner! While we were at dinner we found out that her family is originally from the Oromo region of Ethiopia. One thing I have noticed about Oromo people is that they are all incredibly kind and overly helpful. The Oromo kids at Layla are always the ones that are diligent about their chores and they are the most polite. Our guide in the Bale Mountains (which is in the Oromo region) was also Oromo and he was incredibly helpful and kind. Dodola (at the base of the Bale Mountains) has also been my favorite town to visit because when we first got off the bus, people yelled 'welcome!' instead of 'ferenge, ferenge!' which was such a welcome change. Alan, Anna and I had already discussed that we had noticed this about Oromo people so when we found out the Tseegay was Oromo we shared our perception with her. She seemed very proud!
On Sunday Alan, Anna and I went to Layla for a little while after lunch to see the kids. On the weekends their bedrooms are open all day and they easily entertain themselves without sports equipment, puzzles or yarn (all of which we are in charge of distributing after school). I sat and talked with some of the older girls in their rooms and helped them with their homework. I also played clapping games with my favorite little girls from 1A. They all play these games where you clap and sing along so they are teaching me. While I have fun playing with the kids during the week, the times after school, on weekends and events like Happy Halloween and Meskal are the times I have the most fun with them. It's more relaxed and we just get to have fun!