June 3, 2013
We left at 9:00 a.m. to drive to the orphanage in Addis to put 620 school kits together and we arrived at 12:15! Three hours and 15 minutes to drive across the city (included in there was a stop that was supposed to be 10 minutes and turned in to one hour for a "quick" order of food for our driver, interpreter and our sponsored boys). The traffic in Addis is heavier than Toronto and there are no stop lights .... yes, that is right, no stop lights!The drivers have a system of their own using eye contact and beeping to indicate who will go next. What is so surprizing is that we have not seen any car accidents.In the 3.25 hours to get to our destination today, we were able to see so very much. We saw women who sweep the streets and the highways with brooms made of twigs. These women wear white overcoats and white large straw hats. With all the diesel fumes and the amount of traffic, the effect on these women's health must be horrendous and yet this is probably the only employment they can find.We also saw a man carrying a goat piggy back on his motorcycle with the goat's legs tied together. Our volunteers told me that the goat was looking around and probably had no idea he or she was going off to be someone's dinner.
There were cows and donkeys crossing the roads in some of the areas that were very busy along with goats walking on the sidewalks with a herder following behind.
A full mix of people filled the streets. Business men and women, shoe shine boys, young women living on the streets with their babies, one teenage boy caring for a physically and sight impaired boy in a wheelchair who were living on the streets, a man physically disabled and pulling himself in the streets, school children, people selling fruits and vegetables from a plastic tarp on the ground and many men laying just off of the sidewalks sleeping.
We were greeted at the Addis KVI orphanage by many children who were of varying ages. Our main objective for the day was to prepare the 620 school kits and have the 700 pairs of shoes counted, paid for and delivered to KVI so they could be transported to Sodo on Tuesday morning.
The shoes took a solid 4 hours to count and the entire store was closed for those hours to accommodate this activity.
The older children and some of the younger children came to help us with getting the supplies ready for assembly and then putting the kits together. Each of our volunteers could not believe how fast the children worked and how diligent and willing to help they were. Without their help, we would have been working for several more hours to get the school kits assembled.
As a thank you to the children, the KVI director suggested we get a treat for all of the children in the orphanage because the kids who helped us with the kits had been helpful and therefore were a blessing to all the children in the orphanage. We had 3 cakes for all the children purchased and some cookies specifically for the children who helped.
We were told by the KVI director that they had never been a part of a donation this large and were so thankful. We in turn felt so much that we wanted to be able to do more but were so blessed and humbled to be a part of this work and these donations.
The children living in the orphanage were very much loved by the staff and we saw many kisses and hugs and loving gestures. The thought that children are living in orphanages without the guidance, love, support and care of a parent(s) breaks our hearts and yet the children were so clearly joyful to help us with our project.
We will be delighted to go back to the KVI orphanage in Addis to provide a party for all the children with special food, a marshmellow roast, a bonfire, activities and games and a donation of clothing, shoes, toys, school supplies and other supplies.
Time spent with my mom and dad's sponsored boy and his friend gave us a lot insight in to their reality. One of the boys came to live on the streets of Addis Ababa because his step-mother did not like him and his birth mother was too poor to care for him. He has not been back to see his family for over 2 years and had been living on the streets for some time before he was sponsored to go into boarding school. He is top of his class and wants to become a doctor. When we asked why he wanted to become a doctor he said "to help sick people". This boy's reality before sponsorship was filled with uncertainty about where another meal would come from or where he would sleep and be safe and how he would gather enough money to pay for the bare minimum of shoes and clothes.
Tomorrow we leave at 6:30 a.m. for Sodo. The drive will be about 7 hours and we will see the countryside and the contrast in many ways of life in the city versus life in the country. We will visit the KVI Wolaita orphanage in the afternoon to provide a party and to do activities with the children. On Wednesday, we will make our large donation to the rural school of shoes and school kits and then on Thursday, we will visit a Women's Empowerment Program.
There will be much to write about on Thursday when we return from Wolaita and the Sodo area. We know we will be seeing poverty and the effects it has on children and women in a very significant way.
Thank you for your support and thank you for being interested in the work of Mothers With a Heart for Ethiopia!