The final touches have been completed in our new main office! About 2 months ago we started a renovation project in our main offices at the AAI facility in Ethiopia. This is the compound that we built and moved into about 3 years ago now.
The main office space on this compound is right by the entrance and was the restaurant and bar of the hotel in its "former life". When we bought the compound and first planned out the space, we decided that this location was the best for the office and that we would do only minor work to it, as there was so much else to do. The space itself was larger than any office we had worked in before, and even though the space did not have the best layout and had several different ground levels, we were excited to move in.
For those of you who have been to the previous "Layla houses", you know that we have generally had not much more than a large bedroom in the service building, or the garage space, as our office space. Of course back then we had only 1 or two office staff, only me in fact, for the first months. Over the years of course we have added more office staff as the work increased and the government requirements changed. We have always felt though, that the best place for an office was in the same location as the children, so even though we did not have much space, we did not feel that it was right to go out and rent something in another part of town and be removed from the kids.
At our Layla house facility, we have several office locations. The social workers have their office further into the compound where the older children live. The teachers have their own little office where they keep some personal items and do some preparation work during their free class each day. We have a "clinic area" for our doctor and nurses. Ivy, as the volunteer coordinator, has an office near the soccer field, where she works and the volunteers can keep their things. Each department has a place to keep their personal belongs and to sit for tea and lunch. The administrative and adoption staff work from the main office.
In the old main office arrangement there was an outside lunch space with a corridor that led up to the biggest office overlooking the gate Downstairs the small door by the main AAI gate, took you into the small outer office where the copy machine stood and directly into one of the two remaining offices. Along the wall was the long corridor where the financial staff worked. At the end of that corrider was the second office where Etsegenet our administrator handled the affairs on the 170+ staff employed by AAI in Ethiopia. Behind that was the meeting room, where lunch was eaten during the rainy season, and where the toddlers passed through to get to their class. In between all these little rooms was a secured little room for the financial records (as required in order to receive a positive financial audit report each year) and two narrow little bathrooms.
The hub of all office activity though was the little office I mentioned, right off the inner office where the actual adoption paperwork was handled. This was Tsehaye's office. Tsehaye is our adoption assistant and prepares all the adoption contracts, birth certificate, passport applications and much more. I worked out of this office with Tsehaye compiling the documents for the embassy, among other things. Also working out of this office were Yared, our court liason and Felekech and Sintaheyu, our project assistants, who both handle the running around with the kids/paperwork that is part of the adoption process. On a busy day there would be as many as 6 people standing, talking and discussing court issues, paperwork problems and driving schedules in this little cramped space.
With the addition of Temesgen to our team this year, and his desire to work right with the rest of the adoption staff, in clear view of all that was happening, and the many orphanage staff coming to our offices, it was high time for us to redesign our office space, so that our 11 office staff would have the needed space to work.
The work went very fast and every day we would walk through the space with the contractor giving comments and ideas and watching the exact same space become much more roomy. Last week the temporary wall came down; the furniture was moved from the outer office into the new office space. A large office for the financial staff, an office right near the outer office/reception for the administrator, an office for the court liason, and project assistants, and one office each for Tsehaye, Temesgen and myself. The washrooms are nicer and more roomy and together at the far end. The small outer office looks much bigger without the many entrances and the new reception desk is perfect for Eleni the secretary. There is lots of space for the copy machine and chairs for the waiting visitors or staff. The main door has also been changed and is now much bigger. The upper office has now been emptied out and has become our meeting and lunch room.
It is very nice to be able to sit down and do paperwork without the constant interruptions due to the crowded work spaces. We are all very happy with the changes and are enjoying this special Christmas bonus.
We want to thank all of you who helped make this renovation possible by giving donations for this purpose. It is not always easy to see the benefit of money spent on administrative details, but in the long run a better work environnment is a benefit to the kids we work so hard to care for. For those who would still like to give a donation, the costs have not yet been fully covered and the office is always open to your assistance.
We look forward to welcoming you into our offices when you come to pick up your kids, and our staff also enjoy meeting you and seeing the fruits of their labor.
Adoption Coordinator AAI
Addis Ababa - Ethiopia
(office number 6!)