A New House for His Bride

Wondesson, Fetlework, Danychow and Zerihun Tebebu

Threshing as David did.

Threshing at Gurane

The four wheel drive car turned right off the pavement and began to wend it’s way through people, donkeys and occasionally  dogs. Dust swirled around the tires as we began our decent into the valley. Everywhere there are small farm plots being prepared for the rains which (hopefully) soon are to come. We crossed the “river”  which is little more than a ditch and drove across the valley.
Wheat, teff, peas and beans are the main crops here. They can all be harvested and stored. There is no electricity hence no refrigeration.
Finally we arrive at Gurane Village Ethiopia, on one of the many small hills scattered across the valley. At the foot of the hill the ground is level and flat enough for farmers to do their threshing. Animals walk in a circle, their hooves crush the seed heads and separate the grain from the stalk. I am reminded of King David and the threshing floor he bought thousands of years ago. The technology hasn’t changed here.

A few months prior Charlie had visited and asked Zerihun, older brother of adopted granddaughter Fetlework: “How can we help?” Three boys and the youngest child, a girl, became orphans years ago when both parents had died. The girl, Fetlweork, was deaf and went to an orphanage and eventually to our family. The boys stayed in the village.

Zerihun’s priorities had changed from a year before. Then he wanted “seed” money to open a small shop. Now his responsibilities have grown from himself and a younger brother. He has taken a wife.

Zerihun and his Bride, Zenash

We had told him “we don’t give money.” Now he would like to rent more land for farming and buy a second ox which means  he would no longer need to rent someone else’s. He needed a team for plowing. He may even be able to rent out his team instead.

We decided Zerihun is a responsible young man and, contrary to our word, gave him the needed funds with one stipulation: “God has blessed you with this. When your next harvest is complete and you have made a profit you must help someone else.”  We shook hands and it was done.

Now we have returned for, among other purposes, to see his ox. He was proud as he opened the gate and showed us. It is big, black, healthy and strong looking. He did well. So well, he had purchased the ox for less then market price. There was “Extra” money.

Zerihun is not one to waste an  opportunity. Their house is made of sticks and mud.

Current Residence

The straw roof  and walls are deteriorating. It is where they were born.

He can gather the needed poles and when the rains come he can make mud but really, a tin roof is better. With the additional funds he purchased the tin. The tin is in the house for safe keeping, leaning against the wall.

Now he can take down the old one and build a nice new, dry house for his bride.

There are other orphans in Gurane. As we identify them and determine their needs maybe you will help us help them?

Ain’t God Good!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reunion at Agohelma orphanage

It was a typical ride through the city. There were near misses with taxis, buses, donkeys and people. A cacophony of sounds (and sights) assailed our senses as the driver maneuvered the ancient, overloaded Toyota mini van taxi through the chaos that is the streets of Addis Ababa Ethiopia. He missed the final turn. I informed him, he backed down the street against oncoming traffic and miraculously was able to carry us to our destination unscathed.
We had arrived at Agohelma Orphanage where four years ago we loaded then eight years old Fetlework into a thirty year old little blue and white taxi and whisked her away to another world.
I was honored to accompany daughter Rebecca and her husband Vernon for that experience. Now we had returned in the process of the adoption of two more Ethiopian orphans. Fetlework and Yonatan, both deaf, joined Mom and Dad to reunite with biological siblings and visit other memorable locations.

We entered the compound and disembarked. Down the slope (almost nothing is level in Ethiopia) we saw a group of ladies who were obviously American or European. They looked up and one exclaimed: “Just a few minutes ago I said I guess I’ll never see Fetlework again!”

They were a group of from a Lutheran ministry in Sweden visiting locations where they sponsored children and had just looked at photos of Fetlework on the wall from when she was a small child. A few minutes after they exited the room there was Fetlework walking toward them.

Hugs, kisses, introductions, photos, more photos and it was time to go.

Ain’t God good!!!!!!!!

Clean Water, Living Water

 

Dogachow and Zerihun Tebebu with Charlie

October fifth 2010 Ethiopian Child will embark on a journey to Ethiopia. There Charlie will meet up with Alayu Kebede. The two will deliver clean water by introducing Sawyer Point One water filters to the people of a small, remote village. Mr. Kebede is an Ethiopian man who works for Blair Foundation to introduce the word of God to villages in his native land. He will introduce the “living” water of the gospel (John 7:38) and interpret for Charlie who will deliver and demonstrate the filters for “clean” water.

The village is near Debre Tsige, North of the capital city of Addis Ababa in the heart of the area where the Oromo people live. Three teen age boys, Zerihun, Wondeson and Dogachow Tebebu have lived there eight years with no mother or father.

It is also planned to honor the people who have helped the boys survive by sharing a traditional Ethiopian meal with them.

It is a ninety minute walk to Debre Tsige and there are times when the Jemma River valley is flooded and they are not able to cross to town. Half way to town is the dirty stream where all their drinking water comes from.

Zerihun, now nearly eighteen, has expressed a desire to open a “shop” in the village, where he can sell needed goods to people not only in the village where they live but to others in the vicinity. We will help make that happen if, when we explore the possibilities, it seems feasible.

We will also deliver story books, clothes, medicines, bandages, school supplies and visit LeaMcD Educational Services for the deaf of Ethiopia.

THE GLOBAL WATER CRISIS

  • More than 1 billion people-approximately one in six-lack access to safe drinking water.

     

    At the watering hole

  • Every 15 seconds a child dies from water-related disease.
  • Approximately 443 million school days are lost due to water-related illness
  • For children under five years old, water related diseases are the leading cause of death.
  • Millions of women and children spend several hours a day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources.
  • At any given time half the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease.
  • 1.8 million children die each year from diarrhea-4,900 deaths each day.
  • Every $1 spent on water and sanitation creates on average another $8 in costs averted and productivity gained.
  • From Water Partners International: Kansas City, Missouri

Ethiopian Child will be visiting a remote village in the central highlands in the fall.

Access is only by a ninety minute brisk walk from the bus station across a valley. There is a creek in the middle of the valley that supplies all the water for the area. Water must be carried in jugs to the villages for cooking, drinking and bathing.

Please consider sponsoring a small very effective filter That will make as much as 100 gallons of water per day of up to 99% pure water. The filters are small enough we can carry several of them in a suitcase. We can purchase buckets that stack together for ease of carrying.

The filters sell for $60.00. Ethiopian Child is able to purchase them for $50.00. This amount will include a bucket.

Other items we will take to the village are books for children and Bibles in the Amharic language which will be purchased in Ethiopia.

We will be investigating other methods of payment but for now contributions can be made to: Ethiopian Child

1452 Park Shore Circle #3

Fort Myers, Florida 33901

Successful Deaf Adoptions: Blitch Family

Happy Family

Vernon, Rebecca, Yonatan, Fetlework

“How do you fall in love with a picture?”

That is the question friend Kari Gibson asked Rebecca Blitch after she saw a picture of newborn Zoie sent via internet to the Gibsons who have now added Zoie to their “forever” family.

How indeed! After several years of searching unsuccessfully in the U. S. Vernon and rebecca  Blitch searched the internet, saw some pictures, and several months later they flew to Addis Ababa Ethiopia and “brought home” Yonatan and Fetlework.

Yonatan’s birth father had become ill and died. Widowed and unable to care for a “special needs” child  his mother reluctantly made him available for adoption. She does not regret the decision.

Unable to communicate successfully at age six, Yonatan, now eight, is popular in his second grade class and plays on a basketball team. He has many hearing and deaf friends, enjoys riding his bike and “kidding around.” He communicates well in sign language and when least expected, he will display very innovative thinking.

Fetlework, who was born in a mud hut, is ten. She is in the top of her fifth grade class, is a star basketball and soccer player, and basically excels in whatever she does.

She lived several years in an orphanage, the only deaf child among the one hundred or so hearing children.

Both children have learned basic responsibilities by helping at home.

The future is bright for these happy, well adjusted children. It is the intention of “Ethiopian Child” to chronicle more successes of the adoption of deaf children from Ethiopia. Contact charlie if you know of such a story and we will tell others.

Online Store store now open

Ethiopian Child has now opened an online store. Proceeds benefit deaf and orphans in Ethiopia.

Fair Trade Coffee from Ethiopian Child

Orphans of Debre Tsigie

Brothers

Zerihun and Dogachow

The journey began at 5:30 A.M. in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. The taxi arrived and I got in. Daylight was yet to arrive in the capitol city and the streets were nearly deserted. Daniel, my interpreter for the day introduced me to the driver and seventeen year old Zerihun who I had not previously met and whose home in a remote village we were going to visit. He and his brothers have lived alone since their parents died seven years before. They are siblings of an adopted deaf sister who now lives in USA.

We drove through the Merkato, purported to be the largest open market in Africa. The darkness was palpable. It was an eerie feeling to see the paper and trash littered street empty except for a stray dog scavenging and trucks parked along the side.

At the bus “station” it was different. Hordes of people were milling about, some shouting above the din of diesel engines which were belching the exhaust smoke that created an enveloping cloud.

We were placed on one bus, then another. I could not understand what was happening but interpreter Daniel did his job well and finally the last bus we boarded lurched onto the street and began to climb out of the valley into the emerging light. Thankfully it was going in the right direction.

Two and a half hours of driving along the twisting turning mountain road we arrived at the village Debre Tsigie and went into a dingy little restaurant where Zerihun and Daniel ate breakfast. I would not eat in that place!

Our trek to the village began downhill on a lava rock strewn road that soon became a track and then, before we reached the valley floor, disappeared. For an hour and a half we walked. We skirted fields of wheat, beans and maize (corn). At times the terrain was marshy and our shoes sank into the muck.

Half way across the valley was a big two lane concrete bridge. No road, just a bridge complete with concrete rails.

I could see a person in the distance who was wearing a red coat watching us. He began to draw near and soon was following a few steps behind as we traversed the valley and climbed the steep slope towards our destination, a series of low stone walled compounds at the top of a hill. He was a boy, perhaps ten years old, a silent companion who chewed on a broken twig and smiled a shy friendly smile.

The house was a square mud hut with a tall thatched, conical roof, called a tukul. The walls had been recently re-covered with a coat of fresh mud, cow dung and straw veneer inside and out. There was a wooden door which could be locked but no windows.

The interior was cool and dark and the floor was earth, swept clean, and bumpy from protruding rocks. A fresh pile of sleeping straw was stacked in one corner and in another, perched on the low rock foundation, was a wooden box that had a closed, hinged top. A few bottles and personal items sat along the ledge and in another corner, near the door, were bags of grain and a round, broken injera basket.
Zerihun brought out some animal skins, spread them on the ledge and there we sat and talked.

As politely as I could I refused a drink of milk and explained: “I have been sick” which was true. Sometimes it is a bit of an adventure to eat the local food.

There is another “house” where cooking is done and a smaller one made only of poles placed vertically, spaced close together to protect the domestic animals from the hyenas.

I presented gifts for Zerihun and Dogachow, his twelve year old brother and Wondeson, fifteen, who was in a distant part of the country “following the harvest.” He works with a sickle, squatted down. The crop is cut by hand, dried, and threshed by walking animals round and round to separate the grain, beans or peas from the hulls, after which it is tossed into the air for the wind to blow away the chaff.

I met some neighbors though we could not converse, photographed the local children, the house and the animals.

Too soon we needed to leave. The buses wouldn’t wait.

We walked another hour and a half back to the village and located a bus which was traveling in the right direction, sat inside and said our goodbyes to Zerihun. When he turned to leave he was stifling back tears. He has been head of household since age ten. We were his first non resident visitors and I was the first farangi to have ever been there .

God Bless whoever has helped them.

To view a video click on “Orphans of Debre Tisgie” at right under the heading: “blogroll”

Yonatan

Yonatan and his ugly fish

Ugly fish

Finally the flying was over: the twenty four hour weather delay and the resulting ticket confusion at each stop, the chaos that is Bole Airport, and there, high atop his “new” dad’s shoulders was Yonatan, smiling and waving, a gap where his front teeth had been. His hair was so short it must have been shaved.

He is deaf, can’t talk or read lips but he could smile, and smile he did. We loaded all our baggage into the little blue taxi and, amid smiles and much conversation soon were on our way to the hotel.

Somehow, though during his six years he had been taught no language, he understood what was happening, that he had been “bought” and was going to a different place with a “new” Mom and Dad and sister, also deaf, who was at an orphanage and would soon join us.

Now, two and a half years later his ability to communicate is amazing. He has grown like the proverbial weed, plays basketball, is very strong and likes to tease.

Recently he and adopted sister Fetlework (woven gold) flew by themselves from Missouri to Florida to visit Memaw and Poppy during Christmas break.

I think, if he had remained much longer, the water in the neighborhood pool would need to be replaced because he nearly “wore it out”.  At North Captiva Island we went fishing and he caught a really ugly fish and was so proud.

Their Mom and Dad have now taken them back to their home. The house is quiet without them, a little lonely.

The next time I go to Ethiopia he wants me to take money and “buy” his brothers. Maybe some day he will understand the different between adopting and buying.

I thank God for these little African children He has allowed us to learn from.

Video of a recent visit to birth family of Yonatan.

Remember the Village

DSCF0830

When I arrived ten year old

Fetlework was busy cooking dinner, preparing sauce for the spaghetti with little help from her mom. She chopped and mixed.
Her tall slim body was clothed in blue jeans and a tee shirt. Her head, topped with long, beautiful black hair was gathered into something like a pony tail in the back, and shrouded by the steamy mist as she dropped the pasta into boiling water.

I marveled at how she has changed in two years, from the shy, undernourished wisp of a child into the promise of a beautiful young woman.

Tired of watching, I went to the sofa and opened a map of Ethiopia. Soon she came and sat beside me and together we searched for the location of the village where she was born. It wasn’t there, but the nearest town was.

I surmised that when I visit her brothers in the fall it would probably be a grueling ride on the bus and a long walk to the village.

“Yes, a long long walk” She said.
I wondered. When I visit will the distance I must walk be as great as her young mind remembers?

She thought for a while and began to remember some of the details of her young life with her mother, father and brothers, before both parents died and she had become deaf.

We discussed her past in sign language and voice. She has an incredible ability to communicate.

“The house was made of sticks and had small windows. The windows did not open and close with glass but wood.” she said.

“Was the house round?” I asked.
“I don’t remember.” She replied.

When asked, she said: “My bed was like Yonatan’s ( her brother’s bunk bed) but some slept on the floor. “

“Did the house have a fire in it?” I asked.
“Yes, it was rocks in a circle.”

“Was the fire near the door?”

“I think so, and at night the windows were closed. We could hear the hyenas. They were very loud and sometime I could hear them chew the bones. There were potatoes in the garden but I don’t know if they were sweet.”

She vaguely remembered the other houses where members of her father lived nearby.
We discussed how many years ago did she live there and decided about six. A lifetime to a ten year old.

Her dad and brother returned from their errand and it was time to go to the table.

There will be other times to discuss the village when I have returned with pictures.

Feven


At Agohelma Orphanage in Addis Ababa she was the very best friend of Fetlework, our “favorite” adopted granddaughter who was the only deaf girl at the orphanage.
I still remember the two girls holding hands during the farewell ceremony when more than 100 children “goodbye, we love you.”
It was a magical moment, packed with emotion. Tears flowed as the children sang with feeling.

She is no longer living at Agohelma. Her illness is better cared for where she lives now, with her aunt Tsehay, a very attractive woman whose name translated means sun, and surviving sister.

I was able to contact the aunt and visit with the two of them last fall.

We met on a street corner. I suppose the aunt was too embarrassed for me see where they live. The driver took us to a little sidewalk cafe where we talked for an hour or so and I photographed them.

The street was filled with auto traffic, throngs of people were walking past, taxi horns were honking, the not so appealing aroma of burning garbage filled the air.Pedestrians and patrons of the cafe  openly  stared. attThe lady, the young girl, the taxi driver and the old white man (ferengi).

The curiosity is obvious on the faces of the passers in the background of the photo above. I wonder what they thought, but no matter.

Waizero Zeleke wore a blouse and long skirt, and her head and shoulders were covered in the traditional style which most mature women wear at such occasions as a sign of respect.

Her life story was written on her heart shaped face. It described the hardship and sadness of the troubled times she must have experienced.

Feven was dressed in a pink and white hooded sweater and pink sweat pants. They probably came from donated garments at Agoheld. She was heavier than at the ceremony, the combined effect of care by her loving aunt and financial help from the orphanage. There were scars on her smooth young face. How did they happen?

I wouldn’t ask.

We were able to communicate mostly in English with the occasional assistance from Daniel, my ever helpful driver/interpreter.

When the time came to leave, Daniel drove to a place where they could get a ride home. I gave them money for the bus and told Tsehay: “You take good care of those girls.”

“You come back. You will see.” She replied.

Feven poked her head through the open window, kissed me on the cheek and Daniel drove away.

It was hard to not cry.

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