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!!!!!!!!

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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 Visit: Part Two

 

Mother and Child outside their tukul

Mother and Child outside their tukul near Project Mercy

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………………………

The visit

 

100 Year Old Terminal Building

100 Year Old Terminal Building

 The purpose of Ethiopian Child is to aid deaf and orphaned children and youth in Ethiopia. In an effort to better understand LeaMcD Educational Services for the deaf of Ethiopia a school we had begun to support, it was decided that I, founder and president, visit and learn more about it.

Before I departed for Ethiopia in October our daughter Rebecca, mother to the two deaf Ethiopian grandchildren God has allowed us to learn from, gave me the phone number of a lady named Marta, about whom I knew very little.

Marta, I knew, is a lady from Ethiopia who was once a member of parliament and has something to do with orphaned children in Ethiopia. She had met Alisa, from Adoption Guides International, on a plane and was introduced to Daughter Rebecca by Alisa. The meeting on the plane occurred because Alisa wears an easily identifiable necklace from Ethiopia. Marta recognized the necklace and began a conversation with her.

I called the number and talked to Marta.

She informed me she was coming to visit at LeaMcD E.S.D.E. compound and meet me and Rebekah Payne, founder of the school.  

Addis Ababa is a city of perhaps five million people, 20,000 taxis, a dozen or so traffic lights, and only a few named streets.

LeaMcD E.S.D.E.  is near the historical Djibouti Ethiopia Train Station located behind Golden Lion Park where there is a large statue of a lion, another historical landmark. The only hint of trains now is a few derelict, very ancient rail cars behind a fence. The terminal building is nearly one hundred years old and still stands. It is in use by various offices and a store.

In the area in front a constant throng of people moves about. Big, noisy, smelly red and yellow diesel busses arrive, pause, discharge, reload and depart, spewing a constant stream of smoky exhaust. There is the ever present sound of loud engines and horns as the busses, tiny blue taxis and pedestrians jostle for position, nearly organic, like locusts swarming.

It was decided I would wait there at a pre arranged time to meet Marta and direct her rest of the way to LeaMcD E.S.D. compound.

There is a chained off area in front of the building that prevents the busses from getting too close.  There I waited, and waited, and waited, the only “white face” in a sea of native Ethiopian people.

Finally I saw a silver metalic SUV at the far edge and decided to walk over and inquire. It was, indeed, Marta, Demeke her husband, and others in a three car caravan, searching for me.

The delay, it seemed, was because some dignitaries had arrived at Bole airport and the road between the airport and the residence of the Prime Minister was closed for security reaasons………..Welcome to Ethiopia

To be continued………………………..

 

Visit to Ethiopia

 

Holland House Restaurant

Holland House Restaurant

The first two and a half weeks in October 2008 Charlie journeyed to Addis Ababa Ethiopia to visit LeaMcD Educational Services for the Deaf of Ethiopia and learn more about the “work” there.

The flights were uneventful though there were some long layovers. It was nice to meet people from other places and chat. Two couples at the airport in Amsterdam were on their way from the USA Ethiopia to meet and “bring home” their adopted children.

A teenage girl was on her way to visit her grandmother in Malaysia before going to school after which she intends to follow in the footsteps of her parents, Christian missionaries.

The situation at Bole Airport was more chaotic than I remembered, I suppose because most planes land at night and on a previous visit it was earlier in the day.

Rebekah Payne, founder and director of LeaMcD Educational Services of Ethiopia had told me transportation would be waiting or me but we had no way to communicate and we had never met. It bothered me that I had no Ethiopian money or phone. I did not want to be stranded at the airport in this city of five million people, a dozen traffic lights and almost no street names. If I had been able to hire a cab I could not have given directions to the driver.

Finally the confusion inside the terminal was mostly behind me. Someone had “snatched” away the cart my bags had been on while they went through the X ray machine and I gathered them up, broken straps and all, and clumsily, laboriously, headed for the exit.

What a relief to see Rebekah, (I had seen photos) Christina, who I had met on our previous visit, and Roy, Christina’s husband (who I had not met) waiting just outside the exit waving excitedly to me.

We loaded my gear into Christina’s car and drove to Holland House restaurant near the school compound for a long and joyful visit.

While we were eating Roy, a British expatriate, explained to me an Ethiopian custom which was new to me. In Ethiopia utensils are not employed while eating, only fingers. Christina, a beautiful native Ethiopian lady wished to engage in a local custom; feed me, the honored guest. I sat there wile she gently placed food into my mouth that she had scooped from her plate.

It was a humbling experience, one I will never forget and indeed, a memory I will cherish.

The entry gate into LeaMcD compound is in the shadows and there is no light. As the car stopped two figures emerged from the dark and began to take hold of my belongings. Christina was concerned and said “How many bags do you have?” She was alarmed and afraid mybelongings would soon be gone.

I told her and we entered the gate.

What a relief to learn that the fellows were both LeaMcD guards, helping us.