Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ethiopia

Saturday - Another early morning here in Ethiopia because we were trying to beat the weekend crowds as we headed out of the city to Woliso (South of Addis).  The drive was absolutely beautiful and completely different than the landscape north of the city. 

The countryside was flat with a patchwork quilt of green (chick peas) and yellow (hay) squares as each farmer harvested his particular plot of ground.  There were lovely fenced-in yards (made with sticks) with round mud huts within the fences.  People were out and about and it was so fun to watch them going about their daily chores; herding cattle or goats, washing clothes in the yard, sitting in the shade just inside the open front door, threshing wheat by tossing it in the air and letting the wind blow the chaff, and kneeling down in the fields with their family groups harvesting hay with a little 8" sickel.

We arrived in Woliso after a pleasant 2 hour drive.  We turned off the main road and bumped down the tight corridor of a dirt road to Emanuel Orphanage.  We were met by Eyob (Job), who was a former missionary and church planter, and is now the director of Emanuel orphanage.  This particular orphanage houses 43 children (ages 5 - 15) and they could take in more if they had funding.  The kids get bread and tea for breakfast, injera for lunch and dinner.  They rarely get any fruits and vegetables or meat - they just don't have the money to purchase more nutritional food.  There were also 3 precious babies (one so tiny and thin - the estimated her tp be about 1 month old but she made excellent eye contact so I think she is closer to 3 mos and probably barely weighs 6-7 lbs.) that had been left at the gate of the orphanage.  And they did not have formula and were using cow's milk with a little water and tef (wheat flour) added.

The building had large rooms with decent windows and there were about 6 bunk beds per room, draped with mosquito netting.  The kitchen had a few potatoes and an injera cooker, and the cook demonstrated the technique for pouring and cooking injera.  The grounds were large enough to support some chickens and goats and even some small plots for gardens.  The director also explained that the government would give them more land if they were able to take in more children.

Just before we left, the orphanage director invited us into the little barn they use as a church (with stick construction and dung/mud walls and stone troughs) and the children sang for us, with a 12 year old boy leading them.  The director passed out bottles of orange pop and coca-cola for us and I didn't think twice about taking a drink until I noticed the pop was for the Americans only (the honored guests) and the children were eyeing the pop and then quickly averting their eyes.  I wiped the top off and handed it to one of the boys and he and a friend quickly shared it.

The team gave $900 to the Hopechest Africa Director to purchase food and formula for this particular location.  For those of you who donated money to me for this trip, $300 went to this location.

When we left the orphanage, we stopped just down the road at Negash Lodge for lunch and saw monkeys jumping around in the trees.

From there we went to "Promising" which is an organization consisting of 10 business people dedicated to helping orphans.  They have 81 children at their drop-in center and they provide school uniforms, school supplies and some computer training.  The children attend a government school for no charge because they are classified as "vulnerable" (extreme poverty).  Two of the students are 'A' students and gave very impressive presentations in English.  This was a tough location because the kids were very poor, wearing tattered rags for clothing, and the building they used for the drop-in center was depressing.  Two of the guys from our group immediately responded and are planning to sponsor this location and get this program off the ground!!

On the way home, we stopped to see a soccer ministry program for street kids.  As we were talking with the kids, I realized I was seeing some familiar faces and I asked if they knew Robel.  Their faces lit up in recognition and I could see them looking at me a little closer with some recognition.  These are Robel's street kids that he helps and that we had met last year.  One of the little boys (Abuba) shook my hand and we bumped fists and then he grabbed my hand and held it.  His little buddies started making fun of him but he glared at them and wouldn't let go.  Several of the boys asked for shoes (theirs were tattered) and notebooks (for school) which we did not have with us.

Later that evening, the girls were discussing the street kids and I suggested we try to meet up with Robel tomorrow after church and take those boys to a shoe store.  We'll get them some lunch and some notebooks as well. 

We're meeting Robel for breakfast in the morning, then heading to Church where Jeremy Amick (from our group) will be delivering the sermon at a church of 1000 attendees.  He will have an Ethiopian translator and I am looking forward to attending church in Addis as I understand it is a rousing and active service! 

Tomorrow evening, I will be meeting with my son's birthmother.  Through one of our friends here in Addis, I was able to contact her and arrange a time for us to get together so I can share some pictures with her and I can get more questions answered about Jayden's early childhood.  I'm sure someday he will have questions and I want to be able to tell him as much as possible about his family history and life in Ethiopia.

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