Paula’s experience in Ethiopia November/December 2011-12-20
Background information leading up to recent visit to Ethiopia:
Since adopting an incredible little boy from Ethiopia in 2009, my life has forever changed. I fell in love with my son and also Ethiopia for all of it’s deep deep rich history and resilient human beings like no others on earth.... The first time I touched down on Ethiopian soil I felt the history rush through my bones and I shivered and cried with as much emotion as humanly possible. We then had only a few hours before we would first meet our son in person. A son that was meant to be ours, a child that was in our future even 10 years previous.. he was the one for us.... My husband and I had agreed on a name of our first child a decade ago. We agreed on the name “Malin”. At this time we did not know or think that our only child would come from Ethiopia. We assumed like most that this would be a biological child coming 10 years ago..... However, when we first received the referral for our adoptive son, his Ethiopian name was “Miki”. We researched this name and the one we had chosen. They both happen to mean “Little Warrier!” so he has both names!!!!!
I have felt the urge to return to Ethiopia ever since the first visit. I promised myself that once my son was settled in Canada and he had a “village “ of support around him. We would return several times. The goal would be to learn more about Malin, give back and say thank you to a country that gave us the most important gift of all!! Learn more see more and enjoy such a unique country !!
My close friend Leah also adopted from Ethiopia and our experience and friendship before and during this goes without words how deep and cherished , and meaningful our relationship is!!! Leah started to discuss returning to Ethiopia earlier this year and I was also getting a strong urge to go, it became so strong that I honestly can only explain this type of feeling as a true message from God or higher being! I kept dreaming about it and wrote a stick it in my closet Ethiopia 2011 and wondered if it would happen?! I became a member of mothers 4 Ethiopia with Leah and Shelley this year . I was ready for a change form my full time career . I chose to resign from my career in June, and continued to live on my savings. My focus was on taking care of myself, my family and fulfilling the need within myself to give back to Ethiopia via humanitarian efforts.
The three adoptive mothers group, started fundraising efforts and the idea of going to Ethiopia was starting to make much more sense. Leah and Shelley were not able to go for very good reasons this year. I now had a specific reason to go besides just an “urge”. I proposed the idea to my husband. After much discussion it was a go and I would also take my sister and my son Malin. We planned for middle of November. Two weeks before leaving I had the instincts that I should leave Malin in Canada. Extended family members also voiced some legitimate concerns about this trip. Malin remained in Canada, and he presented to understand to the best of his ability why he would not be going this time. We talked about and practiced skype so we could stay connected. He was excited about the camera.
Plans and goals for the Ethiopia trip:
1) Complete the Great Ethiopian Run (train too)
2) Meet and teach the women of Mission Ethiopia how to sew bags, bring back necklaces, interview and start and life long partnership with these women
3) Provide donation to KVI and spend time with children and staff at the orphanage
4) Tour Northern Ethiopia with my sister “Ras Dashin”
5) Meet with Solomon our family co-ordinator
Highlights of the trip : (not in any order of importance)
1) Spending time with my sister Cheryl ( she put up with alot not just finances to go)
- I lost two cell phones, camera and many other things, she kept me organized
- Technology was not reliable, she never gave up, networked with people to assist
- She helped me train and ran the GER with me and 35,000 other people!
- We laughed and cried together many times
2) Meeting the people of Ethiopia! Especially Eyob Kolcha. Eyob is the Executive Director of KVI.
- He went above and beyond to provide us with transportation and or so much support almost daily! We learned so much from each other including how to complete and Canadian day in Ethiopia! ( Please refer to attached e-mail for details on the very first day in Ethiopia!!)
- He arranged for us to stay at KVI guest house ( and were treated with up most respect and like family too)
- He escorted us to Ras Dashin. If he had not have assisted with this process it would not have been possible for us to go.
- He took me to his church as a special guest, I was the only white person our of of 3,000 people, I have never felt so comfortable and only looked at out of interest and respect (Apparently white people go to an English speaking church) I did not understand the language but definitely felt the presence of God there and very safe!!
- Goodbye coffee ceremony. I wore my traditional dress and was allowed to serve a cup of coffee too!!
- Eyob also shared his passion with KVI orphanage. He truly cares about the children and his staff. He was accountable to showing how our donations were used completely! He turned this around to also empower and motivate the entire orphanage and everyone involved. We ended up having a good bye party there and the children were excited to show their new PJ’s. Nobody wanted this evening to end. Eyob is an incredible visionary leader full of compassion and fun too!!!
3) Meeting the women of Mission Ethiopia
- What an absolute privilege!! These women are resilient and have a strong bond together, They were open to sharing everything with us. They worked happily and diligently even when the power went out and it goes out lots!!!
- I was able to spend three days at separate times with them. The interviews were also emotional. One women had me in unexpected tears when she talked openly about adoption and expressed thankfulness and understanding of our roles as adoptive parents and this made our connection and bond even stronger. These women deserve to have more than just strong spiritual belief and a place to go like Mission Ethiopia, They deserve a better quality of life for their families also. This will happen with our partnership and it was very clear they believe this and are excited about the future!!!!!
- Watching them enjoy their first experience with Canadian maple cookies was also fun
4)Being able to connect with My son Malin in Canada. We had some frustrations and complications with technology, But it was rewarding when we could connect. I was even able to show him the new traditional dress that I purchased !!
There is so much more I could add and will when I get more time. I am counting the days to when I can return to Ethiopia. Apart of my heart is there and I cannot wait to share that with my son many times in the future!!