Friday, August 24, 2012

Embassy Trip {Day Four}

{Written June 29, 2012}

Bek slept 11 hours last night! Amazing! I slept from 7:30p.m. to 1:00, then got up and took Unisom and read until 3:00, when I went back to bed and sleep soundly until bottle time. Trevor fed Bek his bottle and, though he fussed about it at first, he ate the whole thing. We went downstairs and had breakfast and B walked around a little and showed off for the other families staying here. He wouldn't go to anyone else except me and the lady that runs the guest house, Tsige, who he loves! He continues to show some amazing attachment to me, which is really a blessing, and he is making some strides toward his attachment with Trevor.

I did want to note here the other people who are staying with us. There are two ladies who came to visit one of the lady's daughter's birth town. When she adopted her daughter two years ago, the region her daughter is from was so volatile that they were unable to visit, but she wanted that part of her daughter's history, so she and her friend came here to do that and to bring donations to the orphanage and to a couple of other organizations that work with orphans. The other people who are here are with a group working in Kora, an area of the city that I will address later in this blog post. One of the men works for Children's Hope Chest, an organization that does community-based sponsorships for children across nine different countries. There is a girl here with them from Australia and a man from the Philippians. The couple and the man are adoptive parents and have been loving seeing B each day.:)

Hermella and Amara came to pick us up at 8:45 and we went to the National Museum. It was interesting, but mostly for me just a nice time to hold my baby while he slept soundly in the Beco and talk to Hermella. Trevor enjoyed it, though, and took about a hundred pictures!

We then went by the Embassy and got the sealed envelope to give to customs when we land in DC. This is the paperwork that ensures him citizenship and proves that we are his parents.

We then headed back to the guest house and had lunch and a quick nap (all 3 of us!) and were picked up again for our next outing.

Our agency focuses its humanitarian efforts on a government school called Bright Hope school. It is a K-8 school that educates approximately 2,000 people in the area of Addis known as Kora. Kora is a community that is built around a dump. Some people actually live on the dump site and get their food from ravaging the garbage for left-overs. We did not get to go to the dump site, but we drove through what I would say is just a step up from that.

I knew we were there when the roads ceased to be paved. Now, let me just say that in Ethiopia, side streets are not typically paved, but this was different. It was so incredibly uneven and bumpy that I held Bek's head close to my chest (p.s. no car seats in Ethiopia) so that he would not get whiplash. The "streets" were lined with shanties which are houses made of metal sheeting. These types of houses are all over Addis, but in the other places, they are peppered in amongst three and four story apartments, guest houses, malls, and businesses. Here, however, it was shanty after shanty. It smelled of trash and there were kids everywhere with dirty, quite ragged clothes. In between some of the shanties, there were bags of trash, attracting just some of the plethora of flies in the area.

It occurred to me that the kids here were so friendly and happy. The smiled and waved and were thrilled to see a baby. Once we got through the "streets" and pulled up to the gate for the Bright Hope school, the van was surrounded with kids, all asking for candy, money, gum, or footballs. Since we left for this trip in such a hurry, we hadn't even thought to bring any of this for them and felt so horrible. How we could have blessed those kiddos! I vowed to never come back without bringing something with me for the kids.

When the gate was open and we pulled onto the school grounds, it occurred to me what a nice, open plot of land they had for the school. There was plenty of room for the kids to play football (soccer) and, though the school was out on summer break, there was a handful of children there doing just that. The buildings were concrete and reminded me of being at a primitive church camp. We could see most of the classrooms from the play area, as they were set up in a U-shape and the outside of each classroom had a nice educational painting on the wall, like the periodic table or a map of Ethiopia with a key to the regions. We walked around the grounds and saw more classrooms, some play equipment for the younger students, and the humanitarian aid projects our agency has done and is currently working on. This included a HUGE garden where they grow cabbage and other vegetables, a chicken coop with 500+ chickens, a barn with two cows and a calf, and a fresh-water well so that the children could have clean water at their school. Each of these things, aside from the well, have provided jobs for some of the students' parents, giving back to the community in a practical way. We were thoroughly impressed and pleased with how our agency has funneled its money to help sustain the quality of life in this area.

Just before we left, we went inside one of the classrooms and were speechless. The "desks" are metal tables with benches large enough for 2-4 students at each and there were about 25 desks in the tiny classroom. There were no posters, etc. on the walls and there was a large rectangle painted in chalkboard paint at the front. The floors were concrete, but very dirty, and the kids had written on the walls in chalk. Hermella asked me if we used chalkboards and I told her we mostly use white boards and then told her about smart boards and about our schools' emphasis on technology. It was difficult to envision the kind of money that we use in our school on technology alone and then to compare it to what we saw today. The gap is heartbreaking.

Once we were done at the school, we made the bumpy ride back through the shanties and dropped Hermella off at her apartment. It was the last time we will see her and I was a little taken aback by how hard the goodbye was for me. I have enjoyed my time with her and consider her a friend, so it was difficult to know that I was saying goodbye to someone I may never see again on this earth.

Amara took us back to the guest house and we told him goodbye and that we would be praying for a procedure he will be having tomorrow and then we headed inside.

We went upstairs and played for a while with our sweet baby and he discovered his love for his toothbrush, which he carried around with him all evening. We went downstairs for dinner (pizza!) and stayed in the living room until Bek seemed to get tired. Once the sleepy-eye had hit our boy, we took him upstairs and gave him a bath, which he loved again, and got him ready for bed. He fought us going down, but Trevor eventually got him calm and laid him in his crib. We went downstairs and visited with the other guests for a bit and then everyone headed to bed just before 10:00. It was really a great, heartbreaking, fulfilling day and we are so thankful to be here!

1 comment:

  1. I really love hearing your story more in depth. And these classroom pictures...amazing. Just amazing. They say so much.