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<a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Kk2QredaueQ/S-BH_fu_sII/AAAAAAAAAJI/BojEiEa6eTI/s1600/2010+Bogale+Kumela.jpg"><img alt="" border="0" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5467449103803723906" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Kk2QredaueQ/S-BH_fu_sII/AAAAAAAAAJI/BojEiEa6eTI/s200/2010+Bogale+Kumela.jpg" style="cursor: hand; float: left; height: 200px; margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px; width: 158px;" /></a>Bogale lives in a six-by-six, one-room "house" with his eight brothers and sisters, mother and father -- eleven people in all. In that small room, eleven people cook, eat, live and sleep on a rocky dirt floor, surrounded by four walls of corrugated tin and a corrugated tin roof that leaks. There is no electricity or plumbing. The pathway leading to their house is also their bathroom.<br />

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I'm going to try and describe his "apartment building" and neighborhood. Inner-city housing projects, grim and gritty as they are, might be considered luxurious in comparison. Imagine a one-story henhouse, 12 feet wide by 60 feet long. This is divided up into 20 apartments, each housing a large family like Bogale's. There are several of them in his neighborhood, each about three feet apart. The pathway in between each building was rocky and slippery on the day we visited: the rainy season had started. And while this helped to wash away the sewage in the middle of the path, stepping in it to get to his house was unavoidable. </div>

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In fact, the road to Bogale's neighborhood was so rocky that our van could only make it part way. We had to stop, and hike up the "main road," and then turn and cross a very small rickety bridge over a rushing culvert. The bridge was maybe a foot-and-a-half wide, made of two-inch wide tree branches, held together with a few screws. It was perhaps seven feet long. There were no railings. The impossibility of anyone carrying anything heavy over it crossed my mind as I tight-rope-walked across its slippery and uneven surface. </div>

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Approaching the "henhouses," we saw that one apartment had burned to the ground. Bogale's family told us it had happened the night before, and that no one had been killed. I suppose the tin walls served as a sort of "firewall" to keep the fire from spreading. That and the rain must have quenched it. No firetruck could have made it up there. And the thought of one family having lost all of their meager "everything" was almost too much to bear.</div>

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Bogale and two of his siblings attend Fresh and Green. They walk an hour-and-a-half each way. The school sometimes lets out after dark, and Addis has precious few streetlights on the main highways, much less in these small neighborhoods. How do they do it? </div>

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When Muday told us that Bogale's house is "typical" of the way most of the students live, I could appreciate the oasis that is Fresh and Green. A colorful playground, beautiful trees and flowers, classrooms where they can learn and thrive AND three meals a day. </div>

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These kids don't go home to play video games and watch TV. They don't even go home to a warm bed. They sleep on a rocky dirt floor that turns to mud in the rainy season, with no mattresses and only the body heat of their family to keep warm. Not everyone has a blanket. </div>

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Mom works scavenging the meager trash piles around the house. Dad begs and drinks whatever he can get. Some of Bogale's siblings go to bed hungry. But that's another story entirely. To be continued ...</div>

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