It is morning on the 3rd day in Addis. We have been here for two
days and can hardly find places for all the things we have seen,
heard, touched, experienced. On our first day, we went to the National
Museum with Awetu (formerly a Stanford University professor) and
his sister Lensa, learned some of the history of Ethiopia and saw
the skeleton of "Lucy". We then drove through Addis and
met some fuel wood carriers with whom we would set up a meeting
for later in the day.
These women and girls carry 100 pounds of Eucalyptus tree limbs
on their backs each day which provide approximately 1/3 of the fuel
source for the city of Addis. For this incredibly arduous journey,
they are paid 2 birr or about 25 cents. We ate a traditional Ethiopian
lunch with our hosts and our drivers, Leul and Temesgen, and then
met with 75 fuel carriers and their protectors - men, women and
children - in a Eucalyptus forest at about 11,000 feet elevation.
We interviewed them with our interpreters and learned more about
their lives and what they might see for the future. (One little
girl said she wanted to "go to school and get a real job".)
We continued into the little town at the bottom of the hill to see
the shop of the Former Fuel Wood Carriers Association. They have
learned to make fabrics - scarves which cost 40 birr (8 birr equal
approximately 1 dollar), and to grind corn and grain.
On our second day, we visited Hope Enterprises' feeding program
(HopeEnterprises) which touches 17,000 people each year on a $1.3m
budget). We fed lunch to hundreds of young children - they sang
to us, said their prayers...while they were eating lunch, we sat
with them and played. They were completely engaging, adorable, bright
-- many spoke English to me, as I tried my few words of Amharic
on them. One told me he liked Michael Jackson and another showed
me some of his dance moves. Our gracious, wise, phenomenal host
for the day was Dr. Minas Hiray. After seeing these poor children
being fed, he took us down the street to a program which provides
lunch for boys living on the street -- some were not wearing clothes,
but rather pieces of material pinned together. This was a particularly
hard group to meet --- about half still smiled brightly and waved
and would engage with us when we spent time with them.
At this location, we watched former commercial sex workers who now
make ceramics for their living. Many of us purchased and will bring
home their hand crafted nativity scenes.
From there, we went to the Fistula Hospital where we were greeted
warmly by the director Annette Bennet. We were also able to visit
with an American woman - who used to sell Mary Kay Cosmetics --
she took a trip to Ethiopia and was reading The Purpose Driven Life
-- looked up and saw a man whose legs had been crippled scooting
himself along on a skate board --- and decided she had to do something
different with her life. She has now started a home for fistula
victims waiting for their operations at the Fistula Hospital...
Amazing woman -- we gathered some incredible stories there.
I am being asked to get on the road -- we are heading towards Roggie
Village and Nazereth --- we will be gone from Addis for 3 days and
two nights. There will be no email contact available.
More to come - but perhaps in a few days.
We love and miss you all! Keep praying for us -- for strength for
God bless you!