pictureToday we said goodbye to Roggie Village. We took pictures of all the kids to provide to their sponsors at MPPC, and we handed out letters to each child from their sponsors. Monte, Mike and Peter met with several men from the village (mainly the teachers!) who had helped to plant the gardens. pictureThey reviewed pertinent information with them regarding planting, thinning, and harvesting the vegetables and creating seeds.  The teachers are clearly motivated to make the gardens a success. We all wish we could be there when the plants start to flourish.

pictureAfter some tearful goodbyes at Roggie, we proceeded to the Rafiki Home for Orphans for a short visit. It is an amazing compound with beautiful buildings for the children, a school building, dining hall and two homes for the missionaries. Their goal is to use this as a model for future orphanages in Ethiopia. What I loved seeing was their emphasis on building a family community for the children. pictureThey hire single woman from the community to live in a cottage with up to 10 kids. They live together and eat at the same table in the dining hall. The whole compound was a wonderful refuge from the poverty around it. The children will be blessed!

pictureWe then headed on to the Babogaya Guest House, which is a part of SIM. It was our time to reflect and talk about our experiences, both alone and with the group. The guest house reminded me a bit of Redwood Camp with separate cabins, dining and meeting area, etc. It was built on a lake and very restful.  We all went on a wonderful hike up into the hills with an 8 year old guide. The exercise was great and the scenery beautiful.


pictureThis morning one of the women on the trip asked if I knew of any Christian books “about the poor.”  As we talked, she acknowledged  that she was really struggling emotionally with all the poverty at Roggie and everywhere else in Ethiopia.  She asked, “What are Christians supposed to do with this?  I feel so much sorrow, so much guilt.”  We talked about how we felt, what we saw on Thursday as we walked through some of Roggie’s huts and plots on our way to the well. How did it feel to have the children and adults greeting us all along the way? have children run up to many of us and give us their hand and walk with us? have Abainish welcome us into her home without hesitation? 

“How would you contrast that experience with what it would be like to walk your neighborhood at home?”  No comparison – in our neighborhoods, everyone would be behind closed doors.  We wouldn’t even catch a glimpse of anyone unless they were rushing from car to door.

Maybe there are some ways that these Ethiopians have something we should envy (rather than reacting to them with pity).  They have the ultimate community.  I mentioned to her what I heard from the Executive Director of Palo Alto’s Adolescent Counseling Services at last year’s join PTA meeting on teen depression and suicide after yet another Gunn Highschooler threw himself in front of a train (the eighth in 18 months).  He asked “what is different for teens today than 30 years ago?” and proceeded to talk about how isolated kids feel in our society today.  Isolated from community, from family, even from friends because of the prevalence of single-parent families or dual-earner families with little time to interact, due to all the time kids spent with TV, Facebook, videogames, texting, anything but human interaction.  Our children are literally dying due to lack of community.  Perhaps in some ways that is more pitiable than severe lack of possessions and sanitation.  Africa seems rich in community, in relationships.  Perhaps in some ways we are the poor ones?  Perhaps they have a blessing that we can learn from them.