We were delighted to welcome Ms Lorraine Leeson to the school for a brief visit. She received the usual warm and Ambo welcome and the students were delighted that she possessed some ability to communicate with them. Lorraine set up the School of Deaf Studies at Trinity College and is a professor of linguistics. She was able to identify something special happening in the development of Sign Language here at the ALDS. We hope to keep in touch and explore some links between Ambo and Trinity College…
In June our second group of Grade 8 Students participated in the State Exams and graduated from the ALDS. They are anxiously awaiting the results, which will decide if they can progress to Grade 9 at the government school next year. We are of course sorry to see them go, but delighted we were able to give them the opportunity to progress this far in their education. We will continue to support them in what way possible. We wont have a graduation class again for four years. In the mean time we will examine the possibility of providing grades 9/10 at the ALDS for students graduating in 2022.
During the months of June and July students from two Vincentian Secondary Schools in Dublin joined us: St. Vincent’s Castleknock and St. Paul’s Raheny. Each school spent two and a half weeks in Ambo facilitating a summer school for all the local children, teaching them English and maths and generally having some fun. A significant highlight of their time in Ambo was the opportunity to go to the Deaf school where our students took time to teach them Ethiopian Sign Language.
The Irish boys very quickly picked up the basics in Ethiopian Sign Language allowing them the opportunity to really engage with the Deaf students and even teach some maths classes. Of course there was the annual Ireland V Ethiopia football match to be played, a very competitive affair. (Ethiopia won 5-4)
Throughout the year, but most especially in the months of April and May there was a great deal of civil unrest in the Oromo region and Ambo town. Without going into the political issues that led to the problems, the resulting disturbances meant that all schools in the region were closed for long periods of time. I estimate that the students missed a total of 8 weeks of education. Thankfully the year has ended with the restoration of peace and calm and people are very excited about the appointment of the new Prime Minister Mr Abiy. It is hoped that the reforms he is implementing will be a new dawn for Ethiopia
This year the Irish Association in Ethiopia chose the ALDS to be one of the beneficiaries of the annual St. Patrick’s Gala Ball. It was a wonderful evening and an opportunity for us to let people know about the needs of Deaf people, the work of the school in Ambo and to celebrate the very close connection between Ireland and Ambo.
Recently the Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ms Sonya Hyland presented a cheque for over €8000 to the school (proceeds from the Ball) Fr. Stephen’s two sisters and a friend were visiting him at the time and helped to put together a display highlighting the work of the Deaf School. They also had a great evening celebrating with over 600 guests who had paid to attend the Ball. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the ALDS will be chosen as beneficiaries again next year….
With so many new students coming to the school, we decided to update our uniform to something a little more colourful and uplifting… the students were delighted with the new colour. Having 52 students leave the school each day and head down dressed as smartly and brightly as they were, caused a bit of stir… that they were signing and smiling made an even bigger impression. In Ambo each school is clearly defined by its uniform and there is no mistaking ours!