This post is dedicated to my father who is always so interested in arts and crafts here in Ethiopia. Also please forgive me, these posts are no longer in chronological order.
For those of you who have been coloring inside the lines for many years, this may not seem so impressive, but for the children of the Falash Mura community who rarely get a chance to express themselves artistically in any way, the presence of crayons and coloring sheets at the clinic while they waited to be dewormed was an excitement of epic proportions. Let me back up a bit. This week, a group of 20 adults from the San Francisco JCC came to Ethiopia to tour and do some volunteer work. For one of their volunteer projects, we decided to work on deworming the 4300 Falash Muras (Christian Ethiopians of Jewish descent hoping to make Aliyah to Israel) that are registered at the JDC clinic in Gonder. Because I knew how long this process was going to be, and because I had about 100 crayons sitting around my house I decided to bring some coloring books and crayons to keep the children occupied while they waited for their family’s number to be called.
Never in my life did I imagine such an overwhelming response to crayons. I was seconds from being toppled over into a prickle bush by a mosh pit of children all crowding me to get a crayon and piece of paper (or for some kids, a 3rd or 15th piece of paper as they hid their other sheets of paper under their shirts). Despite this near death experience, I was thrilled to see what the kids produced. Not only did they figure out how to use the crayons (yes, most Ethiopian children have never used a crayon or marker before), but they mixed colors and patterns to create some very lovely pictures.
As I went around photographing their work, the children all jumped around holding their finished work in front of their faces, so excited by what they had made. Even though this was something relatively small, and for most American children, something that is done on a daily basis, watching these children color so excitedly was definitely a highlight of my week.