We have the opportunity to do a few home visits with our students when with an expedition group. Home visits allow us to meet guardians and to thank them for the support and love they daily give their child or foster child. It is an acknowledgement of their hard work and a way for us to show our gratitude for what they do.
During a home visit a few months ago, our group (Lyndon, Nikki, and I) met a wonderful family in the Kirkos area of Addis. The mother is a market vendor. She has 3 children; an older teenage girl, a mid-teen boy ( in our program) and a younger boy. The family recently moved into their small mud and stick home, offered by local government authorities. This new home got them off Addis streets, and into a space of their own.
However, the home was in deteriorating condition and the front door did not lock. The family had managed to stave off intruders, but there were safety concerns for the daughter. During our February visit, we were concerned for the welfare of this family, and moved by their stories. Our volunteer group tried to get improvements in motion, but due to the home being government property, petitions for improvements had to pass through local government channels before repairs could be made to the home.
Once back in Canada, I thought of this family regularly. I believe that no one should have to live in fear in their own home. Everyone should be able to have a safe place to sleep. We know that this can be a challenge even in our country. The family’s safety, particularly the daughter, weighed on my mind.
With the May Expedition Group, I had the opportunity to meet with Kirkos Education Center staff. They assured me we would do home visits again, and they promised that I would be impressed with the changes for this particular family. On our last day with the children in this program, home visits were scheduled. I was anxious to see this family.
As we came around the street corner, I knew I was in a familiar area, but I never would have recognized the home on my own. The outside structure had been reinforced. There were no longer holes in the walls. A window had been added to the front of the home to allow for more light. A new door had been installed and the lock was functioning. The interior of the home was restructured, with new concrete floor. A proper bedroom had been added, and the roof replaced, so that it no longer leaked.
The family was so grateful for what had been down with their home. As we visited, I asked the daughter how she was feeling. She told me that she felt safe, that she could sleep soundly at night again. Her brother in our program was also able to significantly increase his school performance. I cried many tears of happiness that day. I was grateful to our project managers and partners, who recognized the family’s need and pushed for approval from the government to renovate the house. I was impressed that they acted quickly, engaging both the family and their neighbours to volunteer their time to get the house renovated. What a difference this is making to our student, and the family!