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.