Day 5 (Friday)
Is it possible that the week is over? Do we really need to say good-bye to T today? Do I really need to sit on a plane for 17 hours?
The day started with two of the orphanages in Addis Ababa from which our agency receives children for adoption. We had received reports last week that this orphanage was in bad shape, with no mattresses for the kids, and a shortage of diapers. The group before us bought mattresses, and we were asked to bring diapers (cloth), and something to protect the mattresses. We also dropped off toothbrushes, toothpaste, medical supplies, clothes, and food that had been given to us. We had already committed money from friends and family yo help where they felt a need.
Of all the orphanages I visited last year, this one was the filthiest, dreariest, depressing place I had been. The compound looks pleasant enough at first. It is a gated house, with a driveway, a small grass yard with a swing set, and a modest house and secondary building. The small ones (two and younger) were in the main house. There were at least twenty-five of these young children cramped in two rooms. The babies were in one room, three to a crib. The older group was in another room, crammed into a filthy, dark room. I sat down on the floor to play legos with one boy and couldn't believe how much dirt there was.
The older kids were in the other building. At least thirty of them came running out of a small room, They came pouring out, and poring out, and pouring out. There must have been 30 kids squeezed into this small room. It reminded me of the pictures you see of a dozen people packed into a telephone booth.
A little boy and I started playing catch on the lawn. Several minutes passed when one of the workers told me that I was playing in the garden and I could not stay there. I pointed at the swing set and asked if I could play there. She told me no, that I could only play on the driveway. Go figure...
I've mentioned in previous posts how much these kids yearn for love and attention. The kids at KVI were starving for attention. One boy wanted me to hold him for the entire 90 minutes we were there. They were constantly approaching me with arms open wide, wanting hugs. Sara became overwhelmed by the filth and clamoring for attention and retreated to the van. She has been wonderful with the kids up to this visit. It all became too much for her. Michael spent the time kicking the soccer ball and throwing a football with the kids.
Our next visit was to Kids Care, the orphanage from which Daniel came. I didn't need to worry about getting kicked off the grass, since there was nothing but a couple of buildings and a paved driveway. Lori asked around to see if any of the nannies remembered Daniel (Fitsum while he was there). Several did, and loved looking at his current pictures. One of the nannies kept kissing his picture as she paged through the photo album that Lori had brought with her.
I wish we had been allowed to have or video equipment out for our time with the kids. Michael played two games with the kids. One was a version of "Duck, duck, goose" except the kids sing a song "who stole the handkerchief?" "not me, not me" while the person who is it runs around the circle with a cloth in his/her hands and drops it behind the person who will do the chasing. If the pursuer is able to hit the person being chased, that person has to sit in the middle of the circle. Since MichEl doesn't know Amharic, the kids were kind enough to sing his part for him.
The other game the kids played was a version of "Red Rover, Red Rover" except it involves one kid tugging on the kid in the other line in a form of human tug-of-war.
As was the case with KVI, the babies were lined up two to three to a crib. Sara spent her time loving on a set of infant twins.
We spent the afternoon loving on T. Knowing it was the last afternoon we would spend with her made the time bittersweet. One thing that became very apparent is the challenge the language barrier is going to create while she is learning English. At one point, she wanted two bags that contained her prize possessions. We didn't understand what she wanted which created an outburst of tears. Fortunately, one of her friends understood what she wanted and brought her the bags. Can we bring her friend with us too?
We said our good-byes and headed to the guest house and then off to the airport. We made some new friends on this trip, friends that we hope to keep in touch with. We learned more about the native country of Daniel and T, knowledge that will help them keep connected with their roots. We spent time loving on kids in search of human contact, hugs and play that will hopefully help them to understand that despite the tough lives they have, there are people out there that can love them. And we created lasting memories and experiences for all of us, including Sara and Michael, who have now broadened their understanding of our big world and what life is like outside the comfortable bubbles in which they live.