This morning, we awoke to a beautiful day of sunshine at the Ghion hotel. The team ate breakfast at 7 a.m. and prepared to meet the bus outside at 8:30 a.m. A packed day stood before us, full of emotionally charged and physically demanding activities. After boarding the bus to the HOPE offices in downtown Addis Ababa (a mere 10 minute ride), we landed in front of 250 street children, singing “Our God Is So Great” and various children’s Amharic songs as well. After introducing ourselves, we served a hearty breakfast of two rolls, two bananas and a cup of warm tea to each child. Preparing the meals and getting to see the children’s beautiful smiles made the job all the more fun, as well as knowing that we were serving at the only feeding kitchen in the entire country. Soon, the children began to depart, from possibly the only meal they will eat in the day, and we re-boarded our bus as we waved goodbye.

From HOPE’s offices, we drove 30 minutes to the outskirts of the city, to an AIDS orphanage run by Sisters of Charity, the Order started by Mother Teresa herself (where pictures are not allowed). Our team arrived bearing soccer balls, jump ropes, and sidewalk chalk to use when playing with the children. We learned from the sisters that all of the children at the orphanage are HIV positive, but fortunately, not necessarily carrying AIDS. For a short time, we bonded with the elementary aged kids over games of tag and unorganized sports. Two of our team members headed away from the playful joy outside, and went to visit the ward with the small babies, whose faces lit up instantly at the warmth of a human hand stroking their faces. The stay at the orphanage felt far too short.

At 11 a.m. our bus drove us back to the HOPE feeding kitchen to serve a lunch of injera and wat to the homeless and disabled who wander the streets of the capitol. With more smiles and chatter, we distributed 140 lunches (only one shift, with four more to come for that meal) to the beggars and street people of Addis. Jumping back into our mode of transportation, the team returned to the Ghion hotel for a “quick” lunch and was on the road again by 2:30 p.m., this time to the Negash Lodge in Wollisso, approximately 120 kilometers from Addis.

 

 

 

 

 

Dreary and tired, we piled out of the bus, only to be greeted by a large swimming pool and monkeys! Our debrief spot was ideal (inside the spacious Arrington hut), as was our extremely large dinner inside the lodge, where one team member alone was able to devour three full flans. Sadly, the team was too tired to finish debriefing after the feast, so we all retired to bed. The day ended with a long night’s sleep in traditional Oromio huts before our next expedition, listening to the sounds of monkeys and hyenas outside on the grounds.