Pretty much since I was a wee little one, there is no place I’d rather be.
Pretty much since I was a wee little one, there is no place I’d rather be.
I know, right?
I am pretty excited and also a bit nervous because, well, it’s been 8 years since my last one. Six years since I worked outside of the house.
I don’t own a pair of slacks.
I wear chinos and cotton tees every day.
And a jean jacket.
Plus shoes without socks.
Or no shoes at all.
And my hair.
What the heck.
But, if it all goes right, I will be working with kids again.
At a middle school.
And if not.
Well, there is always a next time.
One of the amazing opportunities I had in Sendafa was being able to meet many of the single mother’s, with HIV/AIDS, who have benefitted from our micro-finance program. The women apply to get into the program and if selected, are given a loan to start a business. The objective is for these women to become self-sufficient, to provide for their families, and ultimately, pay back the money they borrowed.
I saw first hand, every day, how these tiny little loans, have changed people’s lives. How self-esteem is built – just by being able to provide for their families and many, for the first time ever!
Tayech was one of those women. Tayech started in the program a year ago and has grown her herd tenfold. She has paid back her loan, she sells dairy products at market and has a savings account!
To think how small this is. How just one cow can make a difference is mind boggling.
But it does.
Our church isn’t the only group making a difference in women’s lives like Tayech.
I have the honor of being a part of Epic Thanks 2011. “Epic Thanks returns to its roots by once again focusing on Mama Lucy’s work in Arusha. The students who went to fifth grade in the original classroom built from gratitude have just graduated from the seventh grade, and are now ready for secondary school. The classrooms at Mama Lucy’s primary school are now packed with over 500 younger children – so she needs to build a secondary school where her students can grow up and continue their educations in her loving care.”
So if you like, scoot on over there to see all the wonderful works by my awesome photographer friends and also contribute to a worthwhile cause this holiday season.
I felt like I had to redeem myself after the last post. Thanksgiving is already next week. WHAT?!?
What better time to be and feel grateful.
I feel thankful for so much this year. After visiting a country with so little, it is amazing how one’s perspective changes after such a visit. My husband was fearful I was going to come home and want to sell the lawnmower. Eh, ahhhh, no. I love that lawnmower.
But, I do look at things differently now. When filling shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse this year, I was fully aware of what children overseas may need and want more so, than what children over here would want. Gently persuading my children in the direction of toothbrushes, soap and washcloths, instead of filling up the boxes with toys or candy. But, of course, including their love of crayons, colored pencils and paper. A little note. A little seed of love being planted.
People need so much wherever you are. You don’t need to go to Ethiopia to see that.
So what are you doing about it?
How will you give back?
Just think about it, OK?
I guess I don’t have to tell you. We had this snowstorm. And then we had no power for days. And it happen to be the coldest it could of been. Taking a cold shower is not pleasant. At all.
Since my return from Ethiopia, life has been hectic. I don’t know why. I am not sure why I have a ton of work. But, I am thankful. This year has been very slow compared to 2010. I am not sure if anyone else has experienced this. But since June, things are picking up again. As I am trying to figure out if this is what I should pursue, or, if I should toss in the towel and return to working with kids again.
And in the midst of this life contemplating, we had a flood and a snowstorm. A mysterious skin issue that left me feeling paranoid beyond belief. If this is TMI, sorry. I came back from a place where bed bugs and fleas reign. Only to find out I have some sort of eczema – thank you. So all of this built up anxiety, stress, trying-to-still-process-what-I-saw stuff has beat me this week.
I don’t want to sound like Debbie Downer.
These weeks happen. And they will happen again.
So thanks for listening.
Well, I think an easy place to begin would be about the food. Not that my trip was all about food, but it’s what connected us in many ways. I could go on and on about the food and the coffee. Ethiopia’s major export is coffee. To sum it up – they have really good coffee. Bunabootet every day.
We’d always start the day with macchiatos. I am not sure what they do to the macchiatos, but they are good. A small little espresso cup with steamed milk and espresso. I was game. I usually had two in the morning along with bunabootet (coffee and milk). The normal coffee and milk reminded me of the coffee one might receive in Europe, more so in France: thick and dark. That is why it was normal to have warm milk with your coffee. Whole milk. With sugar straight from the sugar cane. There is nothing artificial or processed about any food you received in Ethiopia. Dear me, I loved the sugar.
Coffee is very symbolic in Ethiopia. It is not uncommon to have coffee ceremonies wherever you go. When we would visit someone’s home, coffee beans were roasted over an open fire and then ground with a metal rod in an wooden type of pestle.
The coffee grounds would be placed in a special pot and brewed in a house over an open flame. The strongest cups would be served first with popcorn. Yes, popcorn. Then you might have two other cups following. Each cup not as strong as the first.
Teft is another crop used daily in Ethiopia. Teft is a small, black grain, used in making enjera or injera.
the bright green is teft
Enjera is this fermented pancake used to eat your food with. By itself it’s vinegary and not really tasty.
But when you have it with shiro or doro wat, man is it good. Shiro is ground chickpeas which when mixed with this berbere, creates something similar to a really spicy, refried bean texture. Doro wat, uses the same berbere with an onion and garlic base, chicken and and a hard boiled egg. I have no pictures of my meals…I think I just forgot to take pictures of my food because it was so good and messy.
Pastii – basically fried sweet dough ball. I know it’s something more than that, but holy cow, good, good eats. Served with spiced tea in which you would dunk the fried sweet dough ball. I pretty much ate that with abandonment.
Ethiopians love their sweets. Part of the reason is because what makes things sweet comes directly from their fields. Did I mention I loved the sugar? Well, I did.
All coffee houses had these. Orange cake, orange cake with frosting. Most shops were also bakeries. Any place that baked bread in Addis was a hot spot. Sometimes it would take 4 or 5 tries to find our lunch bread before heading to Sendafa.
We also had a day where we got away from everything and went to Mt. Olive. It’s called something else, but I think Dr. Frew was trying to translate it into something we could understand. Debre Zyte is also home to Genesis Farm. I was often caught off guard by some of the similarities between Ethiopia and the U.S. – farming, no matter where you are, is often very similar.
Places like Genesis give people the opportunity to have fresh produce and milk products. Fresh cottage cheeses and yougurts. Similar to a co-op.
I was lucky enough to try the strawberry yougurt while I was there. I didn’t think too much about it, but one of the things we were not supposed to have were fruits and vegetables without peels, raw. But the yougurt was much like kefir in consistency and having the good bacteria, so I wound up being fine.
I think one of the things I was most taken by was everyone sharing their food. Goorsha is an act in which someone feeds you from their plate, mainly done with Ethiopian cuisine. Depending on who fed you, you could wind up being stuffed silly with food.
I feel like no matter where you go, sitting and eating together is a universal way to connect. It was a time to reflect and relax and make new friendships for me while I was abroad. It’s no wonder my new friends became like family to me while I was apart from mine.
Before we came home, I was talking to some of my team and I was stuck on how I was going to explain this to people. What do you say to people when they ask you how it was? Like, I will never look at a port-a-potty with distaste again? That my quads are the strongest they’ve ever been? That when you drive in Addis you hold your breath because between the people and livestock on the roads, there are also vehicles going in every direction imaginable?
There is way more than that.
Like, I have a second family and in the 9 days total we were there, I never ever imagined to feel as I did when we left. That sobbing puddles would happen. That the guard checking my passport before entering the airport would pat my shoulder because he just watched me say goodbye to a most wonderful person.
My life was truly touched in the most inexplicable way. I was blessed to meet these women and children living with HIV/AIDS, but, also with hope and peace. There was something about them I wanted to have. In the midst of dirt and despair, I saw light and joy. I saw gardens flourish, I saw women giving more than they received. I saw seeds planted from years ago, from many teams ago, abundant and full.
What can I say?
There is more, but I am not quite there. For now this is all I can say. All I can explain. In pictures. And words.
I am leaving for Ethiopia in less than two weeks. It will take approximately 18 hours to get there. Two long flights, which will land me in Frankfurt and Addis Ababa. I will have no contact with my family for 9 days. And I will miss a birthday. There is so much to accomplish between now and then and I feel as though I will not be doing much here or anywhere on the internet.
What I’ll be doing while in Sendafa: Supporting an existing team of nationals through Project Adopt a Village program – some of which means sneaking in chocolate to a special doctor who is also allergic to peanuts; going on home visits – many with single mothers who are HIV/AIDS positive; bringing supplies – like shirts and sneakers and anything else needed; visiting and working within the local schools; holding a ton of hands – ethiopians are known for their love of holding hands; giving lots of hugs at the local orphanage.
So could you think of me once in awhile during now and then? Say a prayer or throw some good thoughts my way. My team and I would love that. Until then.