Image Map

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday in Ethiopia

Sunday - We attended a traditional Ethiopian church service this morning and it was a great experience!  Imagine 1000 people packed tightly together on benches, singing their hearts out, clapping hands, stomping feet, and swaying in unison.  We were ushered to the front as honored guests and they passed a mic asking us to introduce ourselves.  Children slowly started materializing at the front of the church, I think to get a good look at us.  And you should have seen the children dance and sing - with complete abandon and with all their might!

After the service, we ate at Metro Pizza (an old favorite for the Americans that have been here before) and then changed clothes quickly at the Guest Home.  We then called Robel so he could spread the word among the street kids that we were coming.  Our original plan was to take them to a shoe store and buy them each a good pair of shoes but on Sunday, none of the shoe stores were open.  As we arrived in the post office market area, where these particular kids peddle packs of gum and tissue, they recognized us immediately and Ababu (Tesfaye) started calling my name.  We got out of the vans and he grabbed my hand and entwined his fingers tightly in mine.  I asked if he was hungry and he said "yes".

In short order, we had about 10 or 11 of Robel's street kids with us and we went upstairs at a little restaurant to have lunch.  The kids got a few hard stares from the restaurant personnel and the patrons (because they know they are beggars and homeless) but today, they were paying customers.  We ordered a round of soda for all the kids and then ordered platters of tibs (beef) and injera.  The kids devoured the food.  During lunch, Ababu kept asking questions about America (in broken English but good enough to understand) so I showed him pictures of my family.  He got really excited to see that we had 2 Ethiopian sons.

He gave the pictures back but he kept lingering over one picture - a family photo of me, Jay and all 4 kids outside with fall leaves.  I told him he could keep the picture and he hugged it to his chest.  He made sure he could say each person's name in the picture and he kissed each face.  I told him he could fold it and put it in his pocket and he shook his finger at me and said "no fold".  I told him Jay would be coming next year, so Jay, don't be surprised if a little boy comes up to you next year in Ethiopia, takes you by the hand and calls you by name.

After lunch, we asked them to show us where we could buy their "exercise" books (these are special notebooks for their school work).  Evidently, they copy down the homework questions off the chalkboard, then they complete the school work and turn in the "excersise book" to the teacher.  No paper in your exercise book means you have an incomplete assignment.  And with school being as important as it is, having enough paper in your notebook is critical.

We made quite a scene, with the three white women and the dozen street kids walking hand-in-hand down the street.  We had to visit about 4 different shops before we found one that had the right books and had enough.  So we were clustered around the shop window, negotiating the price, and curious onlookers started gathering around us.  A police officer noticed the kids clustering around us and came over to shoo them away from us and the mischief they were surely going to cause.  We told him it was OK, the boys were our friends, and he looked at us with some surprise and then went on his way.

We hustled back to the Guest Home so I could be available at 6:00 pm when Aklilu was scheduled to arrive with Jayden's birth mother.  I was so nervous about seeing her again and so I sat down to write out my questions so I wouldn't forget something.  Aki arrived right on time with Meseret, and a friend that she brought along for comfort and safety.  I invited them to the top floor of the Guest Home were the girls have our suite and an extra room that was perfect for a private conversation.  I found out that she works 8-4 every day (I assumed she would not work on a Sunday) and I asked if they were hungry.  They both nodded yes and all I had left were 2 granola bars.  They laughed when I handed them to them and I questioned Aki as to what was funny - had I done something wrong or was I being naive?  They had never had a granola bar before and they thought it was so funny that Americans eat this tiny little package of food.  I explained that it was just a snack, something we ate between meals.  I asked about what they typically eat and they said injera.  "What else" I asked through the translator.  Meseret giggled and shook her head "no".  "Just injera?", I asked.  "No bananas or oranges?  No vegetables or meat?".  They thought that was really funny too - and then she said sometimes she has bread and tea for breakfast but otherwise, just injera.

I also found out that she was born in Jemma, which is about a 10 hour drive south of the city.  They were very poor, and her uncle who lived in Addis suggested that she live with them and he would put her through school.  She moved to Addis with her uncle when she was 10, and instead of school, she became their unpaid house servant.  The aunt was not happy with her presence and a lot of tension ensued.  When she was 13, her uncle was killed in a car accident and the aunt turned her out of their home.   She had Jayden when she was 14 years old.  Her mother is dead and her father is still alive living in Jemma.  We spoke for over 2 hours.  She hugged me and thanked me repeatedly and I told her that since we are both Jayden's mom, that she is my family.   I gave her a small photo album and she really pored over each picture and commented how big and healthy Jayden looked.  There are lots of other details, of course, but that is Jayden's information, and not mine, to share.

Tomorrow - Kind Heart orphanage.  Tuesday is a free day for shopping and cultural touring and then our flight leaves for America at 10:15 pm.  Wednesday evening - HOME!!!!!!!!

Windows 7: Unclutter your desktop. Learn more.

No comments: