Post by Susan Poisson-Dollar, AAI Director of Development
For the second year in a row, a group of 10 high school students and three teachers from the Emma Willard School in Troy, NY accompanied Susan Poisson-Dollar on a spring break service trip to Layla House from March 8th to 16th. In addition, they were joined by one more student from Tennessee whose younger sister was adopted from Ethiopia last year. As a group, they brought over 100 cans of Kirkland baby formula and collected several hundred pairs of pants for older children as well as other needed supplies before the trip to bring with them. It was quite an adventure traveling with 30 bulging suitcases and 15 very full carry-on bags but everything arrived intact and was, to our amazement, loaded on top of just the two AAI vans by our very able drivers.
The trip was a wonderful experience for all of these girls and I suspect many of them will be back to join our official volunteer program when they are older. Highlights of the trip included planning a carnival for all of the older children, painting a mural, teaching classes, volunteering at Opportunity House and of course, visiting the babies and toddlers! Some of the girls ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at Layla several days in a row and even had a sleepover with a group of the older girls on a weekend night. The students also took a group of older children out for dinner at a local restaurant one evening, a big treat that was enjoyed by everyone.
Our AAI staff at Layla were wonderful hosts and helped to orient the girls and support them in their planned activities. Several adoptive families were there picking up their new children and the students really enjoyed being a part of that special experience. The girls are looking forward to sharing their adventures and many photos with their classmates back at school and encouraging others to take advantage of unique service opportunities like this during their high school years.
Many thanks to Sabrina Putnam, Bob Naeher and Caitlyn Jones, the three Emma Willard teachers who organized the trip and were wonderful chaperones and mentors for the students!
Members of the Emma Willard Dance Company taught a class after school one day.
Trying their hands in the classroom -- these girls are trying to explain snow activities to a group of older children
The toddlers love one-on-one attention.
An Opportunity House child having fun at the Carnival.
Helping to serve treats at the goodbye party for children leaving with their new parents
The new Emma Willard mural in progress
Everyone made new friends!
Yes, Ivy did let them have a big water balloon fight with the oldest kids on a hot afternoon!
All of the baby rooms are being painted and outfitted with new curtains. Here the Emma Willard students are prepping a room for new paint.
Some of the girls bought cultural clothing for their evening at Yod Abyssinia to see the dance show on their last evening in Addis.