Ethiopia Trip

Tales from Ethiopia: Volume I

There is hope to be held and happiness to be found, even in the darkest of times.

Nowhere is that more evident than the rural villages of Soddo, Ethiopia, where we met strong and resilient mothers, joyful children, and communities that band together to perservere through trying times.

It's far from easy. Women are often faced with the burden of caring for multiple generations without the space, water or resources to do so. Children can't afford to go to school, or lack the clothing needed to get there. Though strides have been made, many women are still birthing their children at home and dealing with the painful and isolating consequences.

There are so many stories – both of horror and hope – that it will take us until the next trip to share them all! If you came to Gems & Java, you would have heard some of these touching updates.

For now, enjoy a small sampling of the tales from Addis Ababa and Soddo, Ethiopia. Meet the incredible people that Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia is able to support. And feel their immense gratitude for your contributions, no matter how big or small. This is the kind of thankfulness that leaps off the page.

One of the things that touched us all most deeply was the sense of love we felt, everywhere we went.

At one point, Shelley remarked, “it doesn’t take much for people to love you in Ethiopia.” Her son, Tilahun, who lives in Addis, said that a simple smile between passing strangers is enough to earn love.


SERKALEM, who works at the WRAPS project, is so grateful for the employment opportunity and all the support she has found there:

“This is just the beginning. My aim is big, my future is big.”

Serkalem hard at work making washable, reusable, affordable pads (WRAPS) at the Wolaitta Village facility.

Serkalem hard at work making washable, reusable, affordable pads (WRAPS) at the Wolaitta Village facility.


YENEALEM, an athletic scholar in the Girls Gotta Run program, has not only gained energy and life skills knowledge, but a social network:

“Before I joined this group I didn’t have friends. Now I have many best friends.”

And Yenealem’s mom has a dream for her daughter.

“I wish for her to help others once she’s done.”

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Marcella showed the MWAHFE team around a new space that's under renovation on the Busajo grounds. The team hopes to house and rehabilitate vulnerable women.

Marcella showed the MWAHFE team around a new space that's under renovation on the Busajo grounds. The team hopes to house and rehabilitate vulnerable women.

MARCELLA, one of the founders of the Busajo program, which offers a safe haven for children living on the street and works to reunite them with their families:

“When you take children from the street, they think this is what life is like. But it’s just a passage.”

Because the program is so strict about the children they will accept – a commitment to education and to building a new life off the streets must be demonstrated first – the Busajo model is incredibly successful, including a 90% and higher reunification rate.

“You have some hope you can change their lives,” Marcella said.


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NIGATE, the leader of the Spice Grinder project.

This was one of the very first MWAHFE ventures that has since grown to become a model for female empowerment and employment in the area.

“What you promised to us, you actually delivered."

She’s determined that the group will continue to grow and flourish, including gardens around the spice grinder facility, maybe a bathroom, perhaps even a vehicle!

“We are not saying ‘please help us.’ We said that the first time, with the first stage. But now we are saying ‘you will see.’”

What you promised to us, you actually delivered.
— Nigate

WHALEN, a teacher at Gallo Shanto school, which is home to a number of very poor students – and teachers:

“What you tell us (through your actions) is that people have time for Ethiopia. People, regardless of colour or differences, can become one. You have shown us through the work you do. It is powerful.”

The school and its staff are so deeply grateful for the help of MWAHFE.  But Whalen also told us that the school will not become dependent. She is certain that one day we will be partners, because she believes that poverty will be defeated.

Volunteer Profile: The One and Only Gecho!

Getachew Wolde isn’t a big fan of rough terrain.

It’s hard on his vehicle – itself a rarity for most in Ethiopia – and that van is key to his livelihood.

But for Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia, there’s not much that Gecho won’t do.

Val Easton, Gecho Wolde, and Kyle Easton at the airport on our trip to Ethiopia in February 2017. Look at those smiles!

Val Easton, Gecho Wolde, and Kyle Easton at the airport on our trip to Ethiopia in February 2017. Look at those smiles!

He will stop at nothing to get the team where it needs to go – whether that’s through a dust storm in a rural part of Soddo, or traversing across massive dips in an already precarious road.

Gecho is a humble guy, so he doesn’t take much praise for this dedication. And the truth is that he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“This work is doing some good things for people – women, kids. That is really what I want to do. You guys came from really far and so I thought ‘why can’t I do that?’ That was good for me,” Gecho said during an interview in the guesthouse at Soddo Christian Hospital during the team’s last trip to Ethiopia.

That’s the same resting ground where Gecho would fall asleep, often still in his clothes with the light on, at the end of a long day.

The work of Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia, and Gecho’s relationship with Shelley, is what encouraged him to support more girls in the developing country. Most recently, MWAHFE was able to donate soccer uniforms, socks, and balls to a girls team that Gecho sponsors in northern Ethiopia. It’s the first time the teens have had jerseys or a proper set of soccer balls with which to play.

“I start to support the girls because of Shelley. Before, I support the boys team,” Gecho explained. “Shelley tries to find ways to support women, and I am with you. I just continued on.”

It was so much fun to see Gecho bust out his dance moves with the athletic scholars at our Girls Gotta Run party! 

It was so much fun to see Gecho bust out his dance moves with the athletic scholars at our Girls Gotta Run party! 

And it’s not just the soccer team where Gecho shows his love and concern. He was a fan favourite with the athletic scholars at Girls Gotta Run! 

When founder Shelley Green first travelled to Ethiopia to bring home her daughter, she met Gecho at the guesthouse where she was staying. 

“Even when Gecho couldn’t speak English, I knew he was a very good man. He was so good with my daughter,” Shelley said.

Gecho drove Shelley, her mom and her daughter anywhere they needed to go.  Along with Biserat, their interpreter, Gecho made it possible for the trio to serve a group of boys and a group of girls living on the streets while they were in Ethiopia.  That work was what motivated Shelley to start Mothers With a Heart for Ethiopia.  

It’s been a partnership ever since. Gecho taught himself English – by practicing with guests every chance he got – and now he even helps translate for the MWAHFE team!

“I learned more every day. When I met somebody, I learned one word, maybe. Something new,” Gecho said of his grassroots language lessons. “Day by day I learned more and more, more and more. Now I am here.”

His commitment, dedication, and compassion make our work possible. He cares so deeply about the women and children in our projects. When visiting with partners, Gecho listens intently and observes every detail with a watchful eye. He truly wants to make Ethiopia a better place.

This work is doing some good things for people - women, kids. That is really what I want to do.
— Gecho Wolde, our friend, driver, translator and volunteer extraordinaire!

And he's always looking out for the MWAHFE team – at one particularly memorable moment on a recent trip to Ethiopia, he was visibly upset about the “ferenji tax” added to a purchase of water bottles (oftentimes shopkeepers will charge foreigners more than the locals, because they understand that tourists and Westerners are able to pay a higher rate).

He was so frustrated by the price – just a few cents more than the “local price” – that Gecho insisted that some of our Ethiopian friends go back and recoup the tax. For Gecho, it wasn’t about the money, it was about the principle of the transaction – and about protecting the MWAHFE team. 

Gecho, Meskelu, Tilahun, Kyle and one of the nuns who helps to run Bucama Health Clinic (right to left). The sisters hosted us at their compound for a lovely lunch and coffee ceremony when we visited the clinic to speak with some of the prolapsed surgery recipients.

Gecho, Meskelu, Tilahun, Kyle and one of the nuns who helps to run Bucama Health Clinic (right to left). The sisters hosted us at their compound for a lovely lunch and coffee ceremony when we visited the clinic to speak with some of the prolapsed surgery recipients.

Serving people in a foreign country is not always easy, and without our partner and volunteer Gecho, it would be next to impossible.  Examples of Gecho’s love and support could fill an entire newsletter. He is such an incredible volunteer, not to mention a great source of comic relief!

Laughs fill the van when Gecho is with the boys from our group home. He is like an uncle to these young men - a wonderful source of guidance and wisdom and fun. He is such a good role model, and they have so much fun joking around together.

Anyone who meets Gecho will quickly realize that he has a few standard catch phrases.

One of the most notable – and indicative of the relaxed Ethiopian culture – is a simple “let us see!”

You might think of this as the Gecho-equivalent of the phrase “it is what it is.”

But with Gecho’s quick wit and big heart, you can’t help but crack a smile.

Special Report #3: Megan Stacey from Ethiopia

Originally appeard in the Woodstock Sentinel-Review on February 27, 2017.

There are some moments you just never forget.

Shelley Green greets Sulded, a woman who lives in Soddo, Ethiopia and needed the help of Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia to correct a prolapsed uterus. So far the organization has sponsored 83 of those surgeries.

Shelley Green greets Sulded, a woman who lives in Soddo, Ethiopia and needed the help of Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia to correct a prolapsed uterus. So far the organization has sponsored 83 of those surgeries.

Standing in a small, shadowy room in the middle of a health clinic in rural Ethiopia, listening to incredible women pour out their souls, I had one of those moments.

These stories, centred around a uterine health condition, were horrifying and heart wrenching and inspiring all at once.

The women at the clinic – recipients of a surgery to correct a prolapsed uterus – were so gracious and open. They made themselves vulnerable and shared personal details about their lives, despite Ethiopia’s culture of privacy.

Many lived for years with extreme discomfort. The husband of one woman threatened to leave her if she refused to have sex with him – despite the pain her condition was causing.

The surgery, done by Dr. Mark Karnes at the Soddo Christian Hospital, is quite literally life changing.

“Before the operation, I was taking care of my family, but there was a lot of shame because my smelling was so much. It was not good. Even the wound was bleeding. My life was suffering,” said Amarach, who lived with a severely prolapsed uterus for over a year.

Most women with prolapsed uteruses were severely depressed and some were ignored or shunned by their communities. It’s common to stay away from friends and family and suffer in silence.

“I was hiding myself – I didn’t tell anybody,” said Turngo, a 50-year-old woman from the Soddo region. Most ladies wouldn’t even tell their spouse or children about the problem, despite daily pain and a terrible smell.

“My fear was not being able to be with people ever again,” said Sulded, from a rural area near Bucama, Ethiopia. “I was hopeless and I was ashamed.”

Amarach didn’t have a single person to talk to about her pain.

I can walk, I can even run. I can stand, I can sit. My body, I can control. It is my own. Everything is new. This life is new.
— Turngo, surgery recipient

And the nasty odour was a common symptom among the women who have dealt with a prolapsed uterus. In severe cases, the uterus can actually slip out of the body. One woman told the doctor that her uterus hit the floor when she would squat to use the bathroom. In rural Ethiopia, the toilet is often a hole in the ground.

“I was not able to sit with people, even to greet them. The smelling filled all my body. I was full of shame. With the smell, how can I go on?” Turngo said.

She lived that bleak reality for four years. She was in so much pain that she had to get down on all fours to cook because she couldn’t sit or stand.

Another woman was so distraught that she contemplated taking her own life.

It’s a devastating issue, but there are solutions. Karnes operates on dozens of women every year. The surgery comes at a cost of $325, a price tag that’s completely beyond possibility for most Ethiopian families.

“(I had) nothing, not even one cent, one birr,” Amarach said.

Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia has so far funded 83 of those surgeries. To say the recipients are grateful is a dramatic understatement.

The most consistent and noticeable change is relief from the bad odour. Women reported smelling “like perfume" post-surgery.

“I can walk, I can even run. I can stand, I can sit. My body, I can control. It is my own,” said Turngo.

“Everything is new. This life is new.”

- Megan Stacey

Special Report #2: Megan Stacey from Ethiopia

Originally appeard in the Woodstock Sentinel-Review on February 24, 2017.

The reaction from Girls Gotta Run athletic scholars when asked who wanted to go to college. The response from these young ladies was overwhelming and earned a huge round of applause from the room.

The reaction from Girls Gotta Run athletic scholars when asked who wanted to go to college. The response from these young ladies was overwhelming and earned a huge round of applause from the room.

SODDO, ETHIOPIA - They’re going to be pilots, doctors, engineers and journalists.

The Girls Gotta Run Foundation is making real and lasting change in the lives of young women, their mothers, and their entire communities in two regions of Ethiopia.

Imagine walking 90 minutes to school - and 90 minutes back home again. Imagine being pulled out of school to be married off at age 14. Imagine dreaming about your future but knowing that education was unattainable.

These are normal, everyday challenges for many girls and teens in Ethiopia.

That’s where Girls Gotta Run comes in. The athletic scholarship program covers tuition, uniforms, health food after practice, and a whole lot of confidence building to boot.

“I see them as true leaders. It’s so powerful and humbling,” said executive director Kayla Nolan of the 55 students in the program.

Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia sponsors five strong, intelligent, compassionate and funny young ladies in the Soddo-based Girls Gotta Run (it’s also run in Bekoji, Ethiopia). For more information about this sponsorship, check out www.motherswithaheartforethiopia.com/girls-gotta-run.

The girls – about halfway through the three-year program – report physical, emotional and financial changes for the better since beginning Girls Gotta Run.

“I love a lot of things. The sport, exercise is good for me. The life skills are good – I know myself,” said Dagmarit Wolde Semayat, a 15-year-old student at Abba Pascal Girls School who likes math and physics and hopes to become a pilot one day.

Girls Gotta Run is just a few years old, but the program is already having a big impact. For Nolan, who doubles as the girls’ biggest cheerleader, it’s about so much more than just the ins and outs of their life skills lesson or running drills. Nolan and her staff take great care to build up these young women.

“We need to talk about girls in a way that’s respectful of their own capacity to manage those problems – because they’re expected to manage them. If we talk about them like they’re these powerless, small, infantile, young people, how do we expect them to simultaneously confront things like early marriage or poverty?” Nolan asked.

Another key to the program is the bonds of friendship. Most people remember what it was like to be 13, 14 or 15 years old – self-doubt is often a constant and it takes some time to find your place.

The situation is even more volatile for young women in developing countries where girls often don’t finish school and early marriage is common.

“Before I joined this group, I did not have any friends. I’ve got a lot of friends now – best friends,” said Yenealem Habtamu, a Grade 9 student.

It was a sentiment echoed many times over by the young runners.

“Friendships are a heartwarming thing, but it’s also a pretty good indicator that the program is working,” said Nolan.

Without a strong social support network, it can be hard for girls to speak out about problems.

“We want to provide peers, so that if there’s a situation they have friends they can go to, and not be isolated by themselves. It’s also a long-term gain when it comes to networks and opportunities,” she added.

The program is based on the idea of building up girls and women, not just for their own sake, but for the benefit of their families, communities and country.

“Before I didn’t get the chance to know about women’s potential. After I got into the program I realized that girls can do anything,” said Biruk Abraham, another sponsored athletic scholar.

It’s even convincing dads about the power of educating their daughters.

“I am not educated, and neither is her mother,” said Ersase Eligo, whose daughter Wubalem Ersase is in Girls Gotta Run. “I need my children to learn – for their success and also to help others.”

In the third year of the program, Girls Gotta Run involves the parents directly by running a savings group for mothers. Those workshops teach the basics of financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

Many families leverage this opportunity to develop their own small businesses – one mom expanded her basket-making endeavour and hired an employee. Another family opened a shop on their property.

This sort of investment can be the difference between maintaining the status quo and inspiring progress. One family was on the brink of pulling their daughter out of school when her athletic scholarship came through.

Girls Gotta Run is full of ripple effects. When girls are educated, they can share their knowledge with friends, younger siblings, and neighbours. When they’re empowered to become agents of change, they pay their opportunities forward to help others.

“I wish that she will finish her education,” said Mebzat Kuma when asked about her hopes for her 15-year-old daughter in the program.

“I wish for her the higher places. I hope that after she finishes she will help others.”

 

- Megan Stacey

Special Report: Megan Stacey from Ethiopia

Val Easton, a volunteer for Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia, gives a high-five to a child in the Busajo program in Soddo, Ethiopia after doing a fun singalong with the kids. 

Val Easton, a volunteer for Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia, gives a high-five to a child in the Busajo program in Soddo, Ethiopia after doing a fun singalong with the kids. 

Val Easton and Shelley Green look through scarves made at the Former Women Fuel and Wood Carriers Association. That group offers alternative employment to women who used to work carrying massive loads of wood on their backs, up and down the hills of Addis Ababa.

Val Easton and Shelley Green look through scarves made at the Former Women Fuel and Wood Carriers Association. That group offers alternative employment to women who used to work carrying massive loads of wood on their backs, up and down the hills of Addis Ababa.

Shelley Green hands out hand-knit teddy bears made by volunteers in Kitchener (and soon-to-be knitters in Ingersoll!). Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia turned these stuffed animals, originally intended to be a comfort item for the children in the Busajo program, into a fundraiser called Bears for Busajo. Every single child that received a bear in Ethiopia was thrilled. 

Shelley Green hands out hand-knit teddy bears made by volunteers in Kitchener (and soon-to-be knitters in Ingersoll!). Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia turned these stuffed animals, originally intended to be a comfort item for the children in the Busajo program, into a fundraiser called Bears for Busajo. Every single child that received a bear in Ethiopia was thrilled. 

Serkalem sews a washable, reusable, affordable pad at the WRAPS facility in Wolaitta Village. She's one of six women employed by the project, which helps to keep girls in school by providing them with safe and sanitary pads to use when they have their menstrual periods.

Serkalem sews a washable, reusable, affordable pad at the WRAPS facility in Wolaitta Village. She's one of six women employed by the project, which helps to keep girls in school by providing them with safe and sanitary pads to use when they have their menstrual periods.

Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia donated a WRAPS kit, including eight WRAPS (washable, reusable, affordable pads), a wet bag and a pair of underwear to all 55 students in the Girls Gotta Run program at Abba Pascal School for Girls. 

Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia donated a WRAPS kit, including eight WRAPS (washable, reusable, affordable pads), a wet bag and a pair of underwear to all 55 students in the Girls Gotta Run program at Abba Pascal School for Girls. 

Originally appeared in the Woodstock-Sentinel Review on February 22, 2017.

You’ve got to come with your adventure pants. 

The fastest way to grow is to travel 12,000 kilometres to the other side of the world.

That’s certainly held true for me this week as I landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with a team of volunteers from Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia. The Woodstock non-profit funds sustainable development and empowerment projects, with the goal of helping women and children and furthering education.

Our small team of four – including a retired teacher, an accountant, a reporter and the organization’s founder – will be checking in on the six main projects supported by Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia (MWAHFE).

Most of the funds that are donated to Ethiopia come from the organization’s annual flagship fundraiser, Gems & Java, which takes place in Woodstock and draws more than five hundred women from across Oxford County and surrounding communities.

MWAHFE has helped to enrich a number of projects in Ethiopia over the past five years, donating more than a quarter of a million dollars.

It’s clear that money is making a difference. But there is nothing like seeing the effect in person.

“Being in Ethiopia allows for an up close and personal connection to the work we do all year round to support women and children,” said MWAHFE founder Shelley Green.

The opportunity to see another part of the world, so different from our own, brings joy and sorrow in equal measure. It’s a fascinating blend of learning, inspiration and exposure to new ideas. Travelling also comes with inevitable challenges. For me, it’s an exercise in how to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

There is always something new to learn. And I feel so honoured and privileged to hear from those who benefit from the programs we fund. 

The trip is non-stop action, especially since I am writing stories and preparing content for our social media channels (if you want to follow along, head to woodstocksentinelreview.com or check out www.facebook.com/moms4ethiopia or search for Moms4Ethiopia on Instagram and Twitter).

The people we are meeting are inspiring beyond words. This fairly infrequent crier is now travelling with a stack of tissues for each interview. I was choked up immediately when we visited a rural health clinic to hear from women who've had surgery to correct a prolapsed uterus.

For many women in rural Ethiopia – often home-birth veterans who have had eight or 10 children at home – that operation is unaffordable and completely out of reach.

In the most severe cases of prolapse, the uterus can actually be hanging out of the body. It creates pain when the women walk, and gives them a terrible smell. They are shunned and ignored and left to hide away.

Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia has funded 82 of these surgeries so far. Two of our team members even had a chance to see part of the procedure while in Soddo, Ethiopia. The surgery is, quite literally, giving these women new life. They’re able to reclaim their routines and their communities and live without constant fear and discomfort.

We were also lucky to spend time with five incredible young ladies whom we are sponsoring in a program called Girls Gotta Run. That project centres around running, a point of pride for Ethiopia, using sport as a vehicle to empower female students.

The program has been running for just three years at a girls school in Soddo, and it’s incredible the difference it has made in such a short time.

These athletic scholarships provides the girls with healthy meals, solidarity, friendship, and life skills – everything from family planning to hygiene to safe relationships.

Parents report a radical change in their daughters. They literally look different when they are filled up with food and love and fresh air.

It’s a life-changing program that gives these young women the ability to see their own potential.

“The challenges that these girls face are so daunting. They’re huge. They’re adult issues, and they ask a lot of these girls,” said Kayla Nolan, executive director of the Girls Gotta Run Foundation.

In just three short years the program has revolutionized many of these young runners’ lives, and those of their parents and siblings, who are “buying into” the program in a significant way.

Nolan said it’s humbling to work with these young ladies, already so much stronger than they’re given credit for.

Just around the corner is a transitional group home that offers support to another vulnerable sector of kids. Children living on the street can find a safe and secure home, an education, and the chance for a better future at Busajo. They only stay for a few years, because the goal is family reunification.

It’s abundantly clear that these kids have been through challenges most adults in Canada could never dream of. We were so happy to have the opportunity to bring an afternoon of fun and games to the kids at Busajo. You’ll hear more about that later this week. 

Marcella Montresor, one of the heads of the Busajo program, said it warms her heart to see the children who are committed to Busajo and its opportunities, particularly education.

“You have some hope that you can change their lives.”

Megan Stacey
mstacey@postmedia.com

Guest Post: Val Easton, From Ethiopia

A guest post from Val Easton, a dedicated Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia volunteer and a member of the team that travelled to Ethiopia for two weeks in February 2017. Enjoy her on-the-ground reflections from the first portion of the trip:

I could write and write and write. 

I came knowing that it would be very sad and frustrating to see this life, but I was not prepared for the love, the hope and the sense of belonging that I feel. It is a privilege to experience Ethiopia first hand. 

The boys at the group home are great kids, and their lives with Mulu are a joy to witness. I saw the beginning of a prolapsed uterus surgery and Dr. Mark included me during his consultations with women at a rural health clinic. I felt deeply for those women. This could be me but for an accident of birth. Their suffering is terrible. Their joy in the hope of surgery is uplifting. 

Every day is inspirational, and I mean that in a sincere and profound way. The people who lead the projects we support are the salt of the earth and I feel blessed to have met them. Allison and Inge and Meseret have created the WRAPS (washable, reusable, affordable pads) program. The WRAPS program takes six women from struggles we can only imagine and gives them a nurturing, safe place where they will learn a skill, have education at whatever level is appropriate, and bring home an income.

Every project we visit is far reaching in its impact and I am in awe of that! WRAPS is just one part of the Wolaitta Village Project. The flour made at the centre has the goodness of five+ grains and is sold to the community for a small price. An orphanage is being built in the compound which will house children in homes with a 'Mother' to resemble the life they have lost in their own homes. The setting is beautiful with large gardens and two ponds. Peaceful. Really, a piece of heaven compared to the streets of Soddo. 

In similar fashion, the Girls Gotta Run Foundation trains the girls as athletes but also teaches them health and hygiene, provides nutritious snacks, life skills and even financial programs for the parents. Kayla, the executive director of Girls Gotta Run, is amazing. I loved talking to her and watching her with the girls. It was fun to spend time with these fine girls. Heartwarming to sing and dance with them and a joy to laugh with them. 

And then there is Busajo. It is another special place of love and learning. The vision is wonderful: to get the children off the streets, love them, feed them, teach them, then reunite them with their families. Another haven, another group of selfless humanitarians. I was overwhelmed with emotions when I led the singing there. Some of the boys were 16 or 17, yet they sang and drew with us like much younger boys. And when they all accepted a knitted bear, I had to try hard not to break down. How can it be that boys that age would gladly accept a small teddy bear? I will never forget that moment. 

There have been images which slap you with their brutality: one of the tiny wood carrier women bent over double under the weight of a massive bundle of wood which stuck out about three feet on either side of her, a person in Addis sleeping on the side of the road on a roundabout - a grey and brown mass barely distinguishable from the tarmac of the road - and another body on the sidewalk, the crowd parting around it, a thin, deformed leg hanging out. 

However, these are not the images that will stay with me. The smiles of the two women we drove to the hospital for their surgery, the laughter of the boys at Busajo as they danced for us, and the singing of the girls in the Girls Gotta Run program will be carried home with me when I leave Ethiopia.  

Cheers,
Val