Thursday, December 3, 2009
Day 3 just in from Tom
It’s day three of the trip, and I haven’t posted anything. A combination of computer temper tantrums and restricted Internet access has prevented me from keeping the blog updated.
Someone said today that blog postings should be limited to one page, otherwise no one will read them. So, instead of combining everything into one post, I’m going to concentrate on today. Later I’ll catch everyone up. Here are some “hooks”; eleven hour car rides, mules, camels, road construction, dead batteries, dead cow, and abandoned bus drivers. And that was just yesterday!
Today we visited an orphanage in Kombolcha (look up Kombolcha Ethiopia on Google maps). The orphanage is sponsored by Grace Baptist Church. They offer two programs; a school for the general population, and a drop in center for orphans. These orphans come from families whose parents have both passed away, primarily from HIV. They live with extended family (aunts, uncles, grandparents) or friends that have taken them in. Because having another mouth to feed is such a burden on a family, these orphans are typically treated very poorly. They are not cared for as needed, and are often abused. Many obviously have medical issues. Grace Baptist provides a place for them to stay during the day, and when they have the money, provides them a meal.
After arriving in Kombolcha last night, we met the children, introduced ourselves, and played for a bit. Today we spent another three hours there playing the entire time. We all had a great time, and would have stayed longer if it hadn’t been for the long ride back to Addis Ababa. The kids were split into four groups and rotated amongst stations. My group played “Duck, Duck, Goose” and “Simon Says.” It was quite the challenge playing Simon Says when the kids only understand Amharic.
I left Grace Baptist deeply moved. The kids had a great time, and it was definitely worth the 21 hours of travel time for the little bit we spent with them. I think the kids, more than anything else, loved being touched. We were all swamped by kids wanting to shake hands, kissing our hands, holding hands, and looking for hugs. One little girl was practically on my lap every chance she got. Three kids were holding my two hands at one point. Even the boys wanted to do fist bumps and weren’t worried about a hug.
It is hard to see children in such poor condition. While I’m glad we were able to bring a little bit of joy to their lives, I’m sad that they don’t get the attention they need on a daily basis. One of the goals of this trip is to find sponsors for these orphanages back in the United States. Children’s Hopechest is hoping that sponsoring organizations are able to develop personal relationships with the kids, including coming to visit. I pray that Grace Baptist is able to find a sponsor.
At the end of the day, our group presented the pastor of the church with $2000 to buy food for the kids. This money came from the donations from the friends, families, and churches of the people on this trip. We also left three large suitcases full of clothes, toys, crafts, and medical supplies. Thank you all for your support in this effort to improve the lives of the children here.