As for me, I know of nothing else but miracles. - Walt Whitman

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Our Trip to Ethiopia, Day 9.....

Friday, July 19, 2013

Today I woke up feeling ill. I think I picked up some sort of Gambella bug. We got ready, ate another of Alem's delicious breakfasts, and then headed to the community center at Lebu. Lebu is a poor community very close to Hannah's Hope, but it took us awhile to get there because of the very muddy, extremely bumpy streets.

The community center at Lebu. The AGCI mission group that was here a couple of weeks ago did a lot of painting in the center.

The library:

The books here seemed to be old and irrelevant. Our hope is to get more books and resources to these kids.

We toured the library, the game area, the auditorium, the computer lab, the classroom, and the MOWA official's office, where a huge stack of letters waited to be signed and stamped. How well I remember waiting for one of those documents when we were in our adoption process!

Shana handed out some of the friendship bracelets that she made and sold for her Prayer Buddy Project, so we got to meet a lot of the kids who were hanging around the community center today. The very first boy we met was the one whose mother asked us if we would adopt him because she could no longer take care of him and his brother. Heartbreaking!!!

We headed back to Hannah's Hope, and then Chris, Shana, Wass and I drove to the Africa Orphanage down the street. We gave bracelets and beanie babies to the children there, and it was so nice to meet all of them!

Me and my little friend (soon to be a fellow Buckeye!) at Hannah's Hope:

Africa Orphanage:

After picking up the rest of the group back at HH, we headed to the children's rehabilitation center. It absolutely POURED on the way, and we drove through some pretty good-sized lakes in the middle of the streets. Once there, we tromped through the mud to the dining center, where we went around the room and shook the kids' hands. There were probably 125 to 150 kids....a lot of them are imprisoned for stealing shoes or food. So our team decided to buy each of the kids there a brand new pair of shoes, and pass out some food as well. As we met the children, I noticed that some were barefoot and had no shoes at all, and others, like a teenage boy that helped us get organized, wore a pair of women's pink sandals that were way too small. Many of the boys' heels hung several inches off the backs of the shoes. Shoes here are a big deal...sort of a status symbol, so they will wear whatever they can find.

We handed out the new shoes, along with a banana and candy to each of the kids. They were thrilled! It brought tears to my eyes when two of the boys stood up and gave us a thank-you speech. One of them, who was barefoot, told us that he had been a little bit happy before, but now he was very happy and had hope for his future. All because of a pair of shoes! And how many pairs of shoes do I have in my closet at home that never even get worn???

We weren't allowed to take photos of the children, but we got a few iPhone pics of our team: 

Afterward, the boys gave the men a tour of their dorms, while we went with the girls to their building. Shana and Paige painted their fingernails, and it was good to visit with them a little. It was so sad to see their cold cement floors and walls, and cold metal bunk beds. I'm so glad the team is coming back next week to paint the girls' dorm and spruce it up a bit!

Our team of girls outside the girls' dorm: Azeb, Kiersten, me, Kim, Ginny, Shana, Paige, Bailey, Emma, and Brooklyn:

It was so fun to see the girls' shy smiles as they inspected their newly polished nails. I think it boosted their confidence a little!

Girls' bunks:

 Inside the boys' dorm:

When we left the juvenile detention center, Danny took the men and boys shopping for new power tools for HH while Wass took us women and girls back to the transition home. On the way, he jerked the bus to a stop in the middle of the street and jumped out. Right outside my window, a man was trying to beat another man with a piece of metal rebar. Wass jumped into the middle, grabbed the man with the weapon, and tried to settle things down. Azeb got scared, jumped out, and tried to pull Wass back into the bus. Things got pretty interesting for seems that the men were fighting over a vehicle and each one said that the other stole it. Finally, Wass took the car keys and the men's ID's, gave them to a passerby, and told him to give them to the police and let them figure the mess out. 

Back at HH, Almaz asked me if I would help her cook dinner again, so we made pasta, cheesy garlic bread, brussel sprouts and taco soup, some of which we had brought from Ohio with us. Mathewos and some of the other workers ate with us, too. 

After dinner, we packed up our luggage (including 43 bags of coffee that Johannes had picked up for us!), took showers, and visited for awhile. Then Tomea came in to the guest house with some corn that he had roasted for us. It was so good! Shana spent time in the kids' house with the special mothers, and got her hair braided again for the trip home.  I really can't believe how fast their hands move....Shana's whole head was done in about 10-15 minutes!

Wass, the Ethiopian cowboy:

Lots of buna to take home:

All too soon, it was time to leave, so we hugged everyone goodbye. Danny drove us back to the airport at about 10:00 pm or so, and gave us another round of hugs. We went through security, got our boarding passes, went through customs, and did a little shopping before we headed to our gate. Then, we settled in to wait for our 1:00 am flight to Istanbul. 

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