Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bermudian is helping her half-sister in Ethiopia to afford to go to school

Going to school: Sara-Lene Wilson, 5, of Ethiopia the youngest daughter of the late Henry ?Bussy? Wilson. 






























ABermudian woman is desperately trying to raise funds to help her five-year-old half sister, living in Ethiopia, after their Bermudian father died suddenly earlier this month.

Cha’Von Clarke, who is recruitment officer at the Bermuda College, and her family, are holding a yard sale this weekend to raise money to support her little half sister, Sara-Lene Wilson, who lives in Shashamane, Ethiopia, with her Ethiopian mother. Their father, Henry “Bussy” Wilson had lived in Ethiopia for the last six years when he suddenly suffered a stroke at 58-years-old. When he became ill, Ms Clarke went to Ethiopia to collect him, thinking the healthcare would be better in Bermuda. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack after only a week of being back on the Island.

“I met my little sister for the first time when I went to get my father, in August,” said Ms Clarke. “When she saw me she ran and jumped into my arms. My father had pictures of me and my son around the house for her to see so that she would know us.”
When he was alive, Mr Wilson was adamant that Sara-Lene learn both English and the Ethiopian language of Amharic. Being little though, she understood it better than she spoke it.
“She speaks a bit, but her older cousin did a lot of translating when I was there,” said Ms Clarke. Sara-Lene has just started her second year of school. In Ethiopia, there is no free education. It costs about $100 to go to school for a semester, which can be a lot for many families. There are $10 to one Ethiopian birr.”
Now Ms Clarke and her family want to make sure that Sara-Lene’s mother has the money for school fees and other necessities. Mr Wilson had hoped to eventually bring her to Bermuda to be educated, and now Ms Clarke hopes to carry on that dream, one day.
“For right now, we are going to leave her there with her mother,” said Ms Clarke. “She’s gone through enough losing her father, without her having to leave her mother as well. I am committed to visiting her once a year, but it is very expensive.”
The Wilson clan have gathered together many items for sale, such as children’s clothing, children’s shoes, and various gadgets. Some items are still in boxes and never used.

“There is some cool stuff there,” said Ms Clarke. “All of us tend to buy stuff and think about it afterward and it ends up sitting. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. We will put the proceeds from that into an account we have set up for her. We want to send her money every month so her school fees are paid for, as well as her clothes and food. If her mom is smart, it only takes $5,000 to buy a house there. In the west we tend to think Ethiopia as poverty stricken, but I was humbled and my eyes were opened by the experience of visiting Ethiopia. Often, what we consider necessities are not really necessities at all. Down there if you own the land, and it is fertile, and most of Ethiopia is fertile, then you are set. One cow is worth around 1,000 birr. A lot of people don’t have to work down there. They are not poor. There are some poor people in Ethiopia, but the media tends to highlight the poverty stricken ones.”
Her father had been a well-known restaurant owner in Bermuda before he left the Island. He previously owned Maxine’s Grill in Devonshire. He was a Rastafarian and was very spiritual. He visited Ethiopia a few years ago and loved it so much, he saved a few dollars and relocated.
“My family is heavily into Gombeys,” said Ms Clarke. “My grandfather, Henry Crowther Wilson, was given an award by community and cultural affairs for his contribution to Gombey drumming. He passed that on to his sons. My father had a brother who passed away. They were both excellent drummers and dancers. My dad also was heavily into bands and music and he actually partnered with Glenn Blakeney to manage the Ras George’s Boyce Band. He travelled to Jamaica with them. He used to play music and all of that. He was also a key member of Paget Lions and the Young Men’s Social. However, spirituality was the biggest thing with him. He encouraged people to be spiritual. Basically, he was just a quiet, humble man. The most passion he had was for his family and his religion.”
Although it was better for Mr Wilson in Bermuda, because of the family support system and medical assistance available, the family quickly discovered that he wasn’t necessarily better off medically. Despite Mr Wilson’s many years spent living in working in Bermuda, he didn’t qualify even for Government Health Insurance Plan (HIP) medical coverage because he had been out of the Island for six years. His family were still trying to figure out how to get $2,000 together to pay for a much needed Computerised Axial Tomography (CAT) scan, when he died suddenly.
“It is still unbelievable that this all happened,” said Ms Clarke. “I was just saying to my grandmother that it feels like he is still in Ethiopia and I can call him on the phone.”
The yard sale will be held today from 9am to 4pm at the home of Ms Clarke’s grandmother Leslene Wilson-Daniels. She lives on the South Shore in Paget next to the Bermuda College. It is a peach and white house, but there will be yard sale signs.
“There will be super low prices,” said Ms Clarke. “Everything has to go. We are willing to negotiate. There are all sorts of items for sale that are handy. It’s not junk.”
“For more information telephone 516-0473. We have an account opened for my dad, but we are going to use it for my sister and send her funds. “




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