So I made it to Ethiopia with no problem. The volunteers were at the airport waiting for me with one of the Salesians at 2am! I made it to bed around 4 or 5am after showering and getting situated. Right as I was going to bed, the “call to prayer” was being sounded by the local orthodox church…that’s basically chants going over a very loud and tinny megaphone-sounding speaker. I slept until about 11 so that was nice.
Spent a day in Addis Ababa and then headed out to a town further south, Dilla. There is a volunteer there working at a food program, clinic, and youth center. Pretty much everything you have heard about Ethiopia may be true. The kids walk around each day in the same clothing, AIDS is everywhere, and hunger is still a problem, although maybe not as bad as in the “Sally Struthers’” period of the 80’s.
The pics I’ve attached were taken in Dilla. The first is me handing out a pencil to the class of some 40+ kids in the feeding program. A pencil is like gold here. You can actually negotiate with the staff at the medical clinic with pens…seriously, pens are a bargaining item to jump to the front of the line.
The other pic is one of a girl who’s mother came looking for the volunteer to try and give her baby up to her – as in take from her for good. The baby is over a year old and was nothing more than skin and bone. I wasn’t going to take my camera out of my bag until the lady told me to. She was probably no more than 15 lbs. Something to think about as we’re feeding our faces for Christmas.
The last pics were taken at the feeding center and finally the one of the SLMs in Ethiopia – Jayne, Van, and Erin – and me.
I’m back in Addis right now at the Mekanessa site and will be leaving on Friday for Rwanda. Please keep the SLMs and the people they work with in your thoughts as Christmas approaches…the people here are very friendly and it’s always difficult to see people suffering the way they do – and also difficult for the SLMs who are faced with this reality every day and are trying to understand it all.
On a lighter side of things…so it’s pretty sunny here and since I came from winter I had little to no tan…which isn’t much different from the summer, but anyway. The people find it pretty fascinating to see skin that turns white to red. Usually the first thing to burn on me is my nose, so when I was at the feeding program, a little girl, about 5 years old, basically made a motion with her hand that said “you have a huge nose” and that it was red. So that now makes India and Ethiopia where kids of no more than 5 years old have told me I have quite the smeller. What has made it even better is that they haven’t told me with words but with motions and gestures, which seems to bring the point home a little better ;)