Dekemhare Eritrea - September 23rd 2002
Many of the small toys, pencils, balloons and
tennis balls are still left in the suite case in the apartment. Today I will bring everything that
is left to the orphanage in Dekemhare. I learned about the orphanage when I met
Marijke Nijhuis in the Asmara post office in May 2001. She told me about the
Dutch / German interregional organization Child Care Afrika,
that supports the Dekemhare orphanage that houses 140 orphans. I visited
Dekemhare in 1999 and remembered the village as a bit dull. So the visit to the
orphanage is going to be the most exiting part of the trip to Dekemhare.
The bus to Dekemhare leaves from the same bus
terminal as the buses to Adi Keih / Senafe. Each bus terminal serves a specific
region in Eritrea. The official price of the ticket to Dekemhare is 4.75 Nakfa.
Everyone pays 5 Nakfa, so I assume the boy selling the tickets earns some 6 Nakfa per trip (0.40 euro / dollar). The trip in the brand new mini bus is very comfortable.
In one of the local snack bars, I ask for my
favorite lunch, the egg burger, always combined with coca cola in anticipation
of heath problems so natural in a country with low quality tap water (that is
used to clean the vegetables on my egg burger) Than I ask for the orphanage. The local
people tell me to take a cab. It is to far to walk. Not knowing the directions
in this small village I accept their advice. The taxi brings me to the orphanage
in just two minutes, so it will be easy to walk when I go back to the bus
The name "Faith Mission" is written in
metal work above the gate of the compound. I ask for the manager of the orphanage
and ask him if he knows Marijke Nijhuis and Child Care Afrika, afraid that there
is more than one orphanage in Dekemhare. "Marijke was here a month ago. Why
do you ask?". I explain my situation and offer him the bag with the toys.
The next half hour he shows my all the buildings on the compound and the
progress they make thanks to the gifts of Child Care Afrika. New showers, bath
rooms, toilets, fresh painted interior walls.
The most important accomplishment of the
donations of Child Care Afrika is the presence of a huge drilling machine
on a truck. So far the have reached a depth of 81 meters, but the water is brackish,
so they will have to drill deeper. "The salt is bad for the children's hair
and it is of bad taste", the manager explains. The orphanage has its owns
stables with a few cows, a poultry farm and maize fields. After visiting all the
buildings I picture the children of the orphanage and we visit the Dekemhare high school
on the other side of the street. Here the boys and girls receive lessons in
technical skills. Big workshops to produce wooden and metal furniture, cooking
and sewing classes.
After the guided tour we drink cola and the
manager asks me to bring some messages to Marijke. He also wants me to make
inquiries how much it will cost to import cows from Holland. "The Dutch
cows are very good for producing milk and would be a great benefit to the nutrition
of the children." I tell him I have seen hundreds of Dutch cows in
Elabered, but the managers tells me they are not for sale, but are used for the
production of milk in the Anseba region. On the wall of the staff room hangs a
big star with the words "Danke Schön / Dank U Wel". It must have been
one of the remainders of Marijke's visit a month ago.
After my visit I walk back in the direction of
the bus station, snaking through some of the smaller streets and alleys of the
village. At the primary school I tease the children with my camera. They do
their best not to get in the picture. I follow the road to Asmara to find the
huge stone with inscriptions I have seen when we passed with the bus. One of the
sides is shaped to be flat and in scripted with the text "A promuvera la
prosperita della colonia covernando. Ferdinando Martini, Il Ro corpo di truppe
Boy giving out the tickets in the mini bus to Dekemhare.
Main street of Dekemhare.
The wall painting against one of the houses on the main street.
Drilling for good quality water at the orphanage of Dekemhare.
Playground for the children at the orphanage of Dekemhare.
One of the classrooms at the orphanage in Dekemhare.
Girl practicing on the sewing-machine at the Dekemhare high school.
Little catholic church in Dekemhare.
Primary school of Dekemhare.
Plaque marking the opening of the
road from Asmara to Dekemhare
by Ferdinando Martini two kilometers outside Dekemhare.