While visiting Ethiopia representing Ethiopian Child, Charlie had the opportunity to visit Project Mercy.
The following is a continuation of the story about that visit.
A greeting between people in Ethiopia, especially if several people are involved, can consume a considerable amount of time. The closer the friendship, the longer the greeting.
Great emphasis is placed on formal but very courteous greetings. After the bowing of heads to one another often the custom of one, two, or three “kisses” from one side of the head to the other while shaking right hands is practiced and exchanges about the health and welfare of the one being greeted and his or her family are shared.
Thus began our meeting with Marta and Demeke. We were soon good friends.
Rebekah and I explained current happenings about LeaMcD E.S.D.E. and Ethiopian Child, and were invited to visit Marta and Demeke in Butajira.
Neither of us had any knowledge of Butajira, where it is, or what transpires there and no explanation was given but I quickly agreed to go, though Rebekah could not leave her responsibilities.
I arranged to connect with Helen, a volunteer who was part of the entourage, since she would be driving to Butajira the next day. Helen and I communicated several times by telephone throughout the day. First there was a fuel shortage and a long wait at a gas station, then traffic delays. Several hours after the agreed upon time she arrived. “Welcome to Ethiopia.” It seems almost nothing happens on time in Ethiopia.
We drove through the smelly, taxi clogged streets and bumped through the road construction at the edge of the city. Once out of Addis Ababa the asphalt road surface was good. Just past a town named Alem Gena we turned left toward our destination.
Away from the smoke, stench and dirtiness of the Cities and towns Ethiopia is incredibly beautiful. The valleys, including the Great Rift Valley, are a patchwork of different shades of green surrounded by tall mountains. Few trees are visible and there are people walking or riding donkeys or horses in what would seem the most unlikely of places, where there is no visible evidence of habitation.
Often there would be stacks of firewood, a pile of pumpkins or bags of charcoal next to the road, items for sale to those passing by, though the house or tukul where the seller lives may be out of sight.
As evening approached we got fuel in Butajira and continued on through town and turned down a dirt road that was very rough put passable. I learned Marta and Demeke were responsible for the road, such as it was, having been built years before.
Everywhere there were people walking and often we passed dilapidated garies, a type of buggy pulled by horses or donkeys but mostly donkeys.
We bounced and lurched several miles down the road and finally, just before dark, there was a sign directing the weary traveler to Project Mercy. It was, I discovered, our destination.
The compound walls were about seven feet tall and made of mortared together stone. The car squeezed through the one side of the gate opened by the guards and we were “home.”
To be continued………………………