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

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Trip to Ethiopia, Day 6

Thursday, October 2, 2014

I made it through a night full of interrupted sleep, and took my shower in very brown water. As I got ready for the day, a children's song kept running through my brain:

"Oh be thankful for the good things that you've got.
The good things that you've got
Are for many just a dream.
So be thankful for the good things that you've got."

After breakfast, we climbed in a bajaj to head to Foten Children's Center. When we arrived, we discovered that our job of turning the home into a full-care center for orphaned and displaced children was going to be much bigger than we had originally planned. The home was an empty shell of a building with large open walls and windows, and although it had great potential, it was nowhere near ready to receive children. But in Africa, you learn to roll with whatever comes your way and adjust accordingly. So Kiersten set plans in motion to accomplish our goal by purchasing supplies and hiring local laborers to partition the space into 3 for boys, one for girls, and one for infants. She had masonry plans drafted for filling in some of the gaping walls, worked on plans for building a bathroom for the children, and hired a metal worker to construct windows.

The office:

The children's building:

New fencing and a large yard, which will be planted with grass and trees:

Meanwhile, Kerri and I toured the office building and sorted through donations. We met Halefom, a judge in the high court in Gambella who volunteers at the center. He told us all about the Anuak and Mejenger tribes, and answered lots of questions for us about our children's culture. He looked very curious when I pulled out my Off mosquito wipes and began rubbing them on my arms. I told him what they were and how they worked, and he was amazed. He cautioned us to be very careful while we're in Gambella because of the mosquitos. We assured him that we were taking our malaria medicine, and he informed us that he gets malaria at least twice a year. It's in his liver, so it keeps reviving. He told us, "I live with malaria. We live together. It is my friend." I told him it's not a very good friend, as he has a fever, vomits, coughs up blood, and can't eat anything for 6-7 days at a time. He replied, "But what can I do? Three years ago I was very angry and thought, ' Why should I have to suffer from malaria all the time?' So I told myself that I would just have to live with it and keep going."
Halefom and me:

The men purchased some paint, so Kerri and I unpacked our painting supplies and got to work putting a green color on the bare cement walls. It immediately brightened up the place, and soon, several people from the village showed up and volunteered their services. They were all amazed with our paint rollers, and each wanted to take a turn using them. We got the first coat finished quickly!

Primitive construction work began on the bedrooms while we worked in the larger playroom area. I started a conversation with a very tall boy by asking him if he knew English. He did, and I told him that I had adopted 2 boys from Gambella and showed him their photo on my phone. Immediately, his eyes lit up and he exclaimed, "Opiyew and Uchan?" Surprised, I asked, "You know them???" He nodded, so I showed him a photo of their birth mother, and he said, "She lives right there!" and pointed to a compound of houses a short distance behind Foten. Wow!!! I could hardly believe it....not only was I in my boys' hometown, I was right in the midst of their old neighborhood!

Some village boys came to watch, so I showed them pictures of my boys and their birth family as well. They knew exactly who they were, and even though they understood no English, I wondered if I wasn't looking at some of Jalen and Jordan's old friends. I gave them each a piece of gum, and they were thrilled.

Other village children showed up, curious what the white people were up to. Some ventured close, while others ran away squealing when we looked at them. We went back to the Baro hotel for lunch, and then continued painting at Foten for the rest of the afternoon.

Gambella is full of very tall people. Oto, the man in the orange shirt below, told me that he is short, and the boy on the right wearing the "BOY" hat is just "medium-tall." Ok, then......I guess I would consider 6 ft. 7 in. to be just plain tall. There are lots of 7 ft. men roaming the streets, though...

It rained heavily almost all day, so some of the streets were flooded as we made our way back to the Baro for the evening. Mathewos, Kerri, Kiersten and I ate dinner outside the restaurant in the dark, and I was actually able to send a message home to Chris for the first time. When I got back to my room, I turned on the shower and discovered water that looked like this:

I let it run for 15 minutes or so, and the coffee color slowly dissipated to a light brown. I showered in the frigid water, but didn't feel any more clean afterward. I journaled, read my book, and went to bed.

1 comment:

  1. Am moving to Gambella soon from Uganda, we are going to serve these people in areas dealing with conflict transformation training and family healing. Email us: