Ethiopia Days 6 and 7

Monday, December 14, 2015

Yesterday we went on a quick family walk after breakfast (Breakfast is a complimentary buffet at our hotel and includes cooked eggs, yogurt, some unusual sausage that looks like Slim Jims and the boys love, sliced deli meat and cheese that appears questionable quality, rice with veggies, stir fly veggies with spice, toast, fried bread and pancakes.) Wealth and poverty live side-by-side so the moment you set out the gated entrance of the hotel you're in the thick of it. Addis is also very populated so there are cars and people everywhere.

RJ and I like walking around with the boys because although we are stared at we are also treated more warmly. People love the children. The boys have been very good and while Landon is wide-eyed he is taking it all in stride and we are trying to explain everything to him as clearly as possible. Some of the concepts are hard for me to wrestle with so I know his mind must be whirling.

For example yesterday on our walk we saw a tin guard shed. These are common outside stores, nice houses, etc. for the guard to sleep in. Yesterday while RJ took a photo of it the guard came up to me and motioned to a woman and toddler making coffee on the sidewalk next to him. His family he communicated. And they all lived in that shed together. Landon and Parker gave the toddler one of their matchbox cars and then the guard told us to take a photo with them (all communicated through gestures). A very humbling experience. 

Yesterday we ate lunch at a very nice "Dutch" restaurant. It was called I Amsterdam with Dutch decor and photos everywhere but it served American style food. Portions were American in size too so we had a lot left over. I asked if we could give it to someone who is hungry and our guide, Champ, readily agreed. To my surprise he handed it to the nicely uniformed guard outside. Not who I would have guessed to be hungry but the man took it eagerly and I saw him and the other guard dig in quickly. Champ explained that many Ethiopians who don't look hungry are. Everyone here is very nicely dressed, neat and clean. Since people can't afford "stuff" like in the USA their pride is wrapped up in their appearance. An Ethiopian who looks grubby or poorly dressed is someone who has "lost hope." Therefore many will spend money on clothes even before food. Hunger is very common here. Our guide himself (who is university educated) has often been hungry in his life - especially in his early twenties while working as a teacher. (His job with our agency has allowed him to get chubby for which I - and he- is glad!)

These experiences are a daily reality here in ET which makes me more and more thankful for how well Norah has been taken care of these past 9 months. She eats really well here and her nannies love her so much. We said good bye last night knowing it would be her last night at the Transition Home - a bitter
sweet feeling. I am so excited to be with her (and nervous too) but also sad for her grieving heart. 

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