Hello from Addis Ababa!! Thank you so much for all your encouraging e-mails and for the generosity of so many. You have no idea how the people here are responding to your love. One of my friends wrote today saying that this trip is about so much more than my adoption and I know that is so very true. God has given me the opportunity to understand so much better the struggles of the people here and to help me put into perspective my own life and the extraordinary blessings I enjoy every day, every hour.
You have given more than $1,000.00!!! Thank you so very much. Last night, we were travelling with another translator for our guest house to buy some supplies for Julia and he was able to share his personal story with us. I have been absolutely amazed at the people we have been able to get to know and to understand that from unbelievable poverty, with support and love, there is hope for the people here. Joseph told us that at the age of 10, he became a street kid because his mom died of AIDS, he did not know his father and there were no relatives to care for him. One of my nieces is 10 and to think that but for the grace of God she is living in our country, this story could be her's.
Joseph lived on the streets until he was 13 and at that time a worker for Christian Children's Fund started to minister to him and then got him into shelter and provided education. Joseph talked about his deep desire to be able to write his sponsor to tell him what a difference he made in his life but that particular organization does not release that information. His appreciation for his sponsor was so very real and obvious that I wanted to share that with those of you who sponsor children. Here was a man before us who through sponsorship from someone in the UShad his life totally turned around.
Joseph sat in front of us, a very well educated man, a man with a wife who has a ministry for street kids, he is a father of a 4 year old boy and he praises God for all things- he was a street kid. He lived a life that was not fit for anyone let alone a 10 year old boy. He said that he stayed with other friends, some girls and some boys who were living on the street together and that he still stays in touch with them. They were some of the fortunate because through sponsorship, they all went on to University and have now a much, much better life.
When we told him about the money that you have donated, he said that first of all, he wanted to show and to express his appreciation for the people of Canada for showing their love. He was touched. I asked him what he would want me to tell the people in Canada about street kids in Ethiopia and he said that first of all these children need love, they need to be hugged and kissed because they are without family and love. We need to provide education so they can have a better life and they also need shelter, cloths and food.
He had just spent the day at the leprosy colony as a volunteer teaching the children and he told us that they are the poorest of the poor with 800 orphans living there. Orphans due to leprosy and AIDS. 800 orphans is more children than any two schools combined I know in our city!
I asked Joseph and Bisrat (our translator that we have had take us to serve the street children, etc.) how they continue here when they have such a burden for the children of Ethiopia knowing and seeing everyday the massive need and the destitution, they both said "we just keep going".
My mom and I through your generosity and the help of our driver and translator took 11 boys out for lunch yesterday and another 13 (some of them the same boys) today. Today we bought 20 blankets and tarps for the boys to keep themselves dry and warm during this rainy season. Each one of the boys were polite, they were so very grateful and wanted us to tell you thank you very much for your love. These boys have absolutely nothing and are hungry every single day and yet they all waited to eat until our translator had prayed. Not one of them came to us asking for more and each one of them said thank you and many of them hugged us. The youngest boys were only 11 and they went up in age to 17.
Today when the boys received their blankets and tarps, you would have thought it was the best Christmas ever. One little boy wrapped it around himself and had the biggest smile. What joy that brought to our hearts and what a privilege we have been given through you to serve these boys. We have taken photos and will send them out later when I get home to show you how right after lunch, the boys were already creating their better shelter with the tarps.
As we were driving after lunch, we had a very old lady and a lady with a baby on her back come to the van to ask for money. We had a few blankets left so we gave them both a blanket. We also gave blankets to a little girl and her brother who were no more than 6 years old who are on the street with their mother and two younger siblings. The final blankets were given to another boy and his friend who is blind. I cannot even begin at this point to adequately explain the absolute poverty here.
Driving to the market area where we took the boys out for lunch, we saw literally at least one hundred people living on the streets. In some areas, there were so many that they were almost lined up. 'There are over 60,000 street people here in Addis. One lady was sleeping on a piece of cardboard right at the side of the sidewalk amidst thousands of cars/vans and people walking by. We saw one disabled young lady pulling herself along the sidewalk and a man with mental illness naked under a burlap bag sitting in the rain.
Most of the street children/people are absolutely filthy with torn cloths and shoes that look like they will fall apart or they have no shoes at all.
At the restaurant that we have fed the street boys for the last two days, the staff told our translator that they wanted to talk to us to tell us how much they love that we/you are feeding the children. They said that they have never seen this before. We have told the boys and the staff that it is through our friends and family in Canada that we can do this and that you wanted to show them love. One waitress hugged my mom and told her that she loved her.
One of the boys today asked to pray and what he said was "dear heavenly father, thank you for this food and thank you for giving us friends who wanted to help us". This 15 year old boy left his home because they couldn't provide for him. When we asked the boys how often they eat, many of them said that they often only eat once a day if at all. We asked how they find their food and one of the ways is to go to restaurants and beg for the throw outs. They said that they have been beaten many times for begging for food.
They want you to know that they want a better life. They want education and a chance at life. The boy who prayed today was special somehow so I asked our translator if he would keep him back after the other boys left to ask him if he would want to go to school if I could provide a sponsorship for him. He was so very humble and spoke very quietly saying that yes, he very much wants to go to school. At our guest house now, there is a missionary family who is serving children from the leprosy colony and dump providing some of them with boarding school to provide shelter, food, clothing and education. Through this missionary and staff of a partner program here in Ethiopia, they are going to find this boy tomorrow and talk to him about the summer qualifying program for school. He very well may be in shelter tomorrow and in their summer program by Wednesday. Sponsorship is $700 US a year and the cost of a bed and bedding (approx. $150 US). Some of your generous donations will go to pay for the bed for Delahunt. From him and me- Thank you!!!!
As for my beautiful daughter, she is definitely becoming more and more comfortable each day and she is quite a ham when she gets going :) She is using more and more English words already and last night, she even corrected a word I was using in Amharic. Imagine that, my 3.5 year old daughter teaching me how to say "you are welcome" properly :) Yesterday on our journeys, my mom asked me if Julia could have gum and I said no and she immediately said "why"! I think she might understand more than we think.
She kissed me and my mom yesterday for the first time and says "come mommy, come". She holds my hand all the time that we are going anywhere and wants to sit on my knee in the van or at the table when she can. We had a nap this afternoon together in her bed. She laughs when I brush her teeth and she has learned to swish and spit. She is so happy and even wakes up with a smile on her face.
This afternoon we were rolling a ball on the floor to each other and she wanted to do it with our eyes closed. She rolled me the ball almost every time in a straight line (could we have an athlete in the making?).
Tomorrow, we are going to see a monastery, a falls and surrounding area as well as visit the leprosy hospital. Tomorrow evening, we are being treated by my adoption agency to a traditional meal and celebration with other families here from Canada with their children. Another very full day.
Motherhood is very, very wonderful and I cannot believe at times that this incredible gift has really happened. How incredibly beautiful it is to have a child look to you for their safety, for their care and for your love.
Signing off for tonight. I will try to write again on Tuesday.
Thank you again everyone for your support and your love.