Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ethiopia 2014 - day 5, part 1 - Shiro Meda and Entoto Mountain - Home Visits

Today was full in every aspect of the word. I don't even know how to begin. I have sat here wondering how to begin to journal this day and still there are no words that can capture it in its fullest other than "you had to be there." But since you weren't and I am trying to bring you with me through words, we'll start our day at the base of Entoto Mountain in a small town called Shiro Meda.

Our first stop today was to a pre-school called Connected In Hope. This was literally a breath of fresh air. It was truly a picture of beauty for ashes that God talks of in the book of Isaiah. The children that attend this pre-school are all between the ages of 3-7 and are children of the women who belong to the Former Firewood Carriers Association. These are the women who used to carry the 180 pound branches on their backs down Entoto Mtn for $1/day to try to survive. They were seen, rescued, and trained for a job as weavers who now make baskets, scarves, etc... and earn a living this way. The children are brought to this private preschool each morning when mom goes to work and are taught through kindergarten and then they start public school. This is fabulous!!! This gives them a headstart into their education and gives them a wonderful love for learning. I was so incredibly impressed with the director, Nebiat, along with his staff! They were all so loving, and attentive towards the children all while making sure they were learning.

me with the President of the Former Firewood Carrier Association

Nebiat talking with Andy - our school principal on our team

the school social worker

Shelly putting a bracelet on a student

a learning center

enrollment tree! Love this!!!

Michelle has a true gift with kids! I deemed her our events coordinator 
at the orphanages as she just has a perfect and gentle way with the kids. 

I didn't get very far in my tour though and in playing with the smaller children because one little boy was bundled up in his teacher's arms under several blankets. I asked her if he was sick to which she quickly replied yes and that his parents were on their way. I asked if they knew what was wrong with him and they didn't know...they only knew he was burning hot with fever but shivering cold. I asked if I could assess him since I was a nurse and they were so grateful. I got to work and knew instantly that this little boy was SICK!!! His heart rate was fast, his belly was incredibly tender over the right side when I pressed on it, and he was lethargic. My instinct said appendicitis so I told Nebiat that I felt he needed to go to the hospital and be evaluated. The family had no money for the doctor, so we gave him money from our team fund, I prayed over the boy and they immediately loaded him up and took him straight to the hospital.

assessment time - I was explaining what I was doing and the ladies were translating

I was telling David (not pictured) what I thought was going on and what I thought should happen

Explaining to Nebiat what was happening and coming up with a plan

Alison, Nebiat, school employee and myself laying hands on this sick little 
boy as I prayed over him. I was truly worried for this little guy.

The next day I found out that the little boy had been diagnosed with typhoid and tapeworm...both of which can be fatal. Thankfully it was not appendicitis and no surgery was needed! Praise Jesus that our team could not go to this location the day before like we had planned or we would have missed this completely and the boy would not have gone to the doctor. I love how God's plans always work out better than our own! And I just got word yesterday that our little guy is doing much better now!

I'm planning to visit this site again on future trips as I love how this glimmer of hope in such a poverty ridden country is there for all of us to see. It was a reminder that God sees them all, hears all of our prayers, and is working to redeem their lives and situations and bless their future generations and descendants!

Christine playing with these handsome dudes

Next we headed on up the mountain to make more home visits of already sponsored children and to go visit children who are in desperate need of sponsors. Our first stop was to see a little girl named Erihale. She is a child who is sponsored by a couple who used to teach Chloe in Sunday School. Erihale and both of her parents are HIV positive and need desperate help. They all MUST eat every meal in order to be able to take their HIV medication. If they don't eat, the cannot take their meds because they will get violently ill if they do. Ugh! It's a catch 22 at it's worst! Erihale didn't know she was sponsored yet so I got to deliver this new and exciting news to her and her family. What a precious time and memory that will forever be for me!

Showing this little doll her package from her sponsors, Kathryn and Ben

She came in for a hug, so I picked her up...

And she surprised me with the biggest smooch EVER!!! Can't you see the joy on my face...and her mother's?!? I'm sitting here grinning as I type this! Ha!!!

Explaining how I know her sponsors and that they were motivated by the love of Jesus to do this and that they already love Erihale and them as well. 

I can't stop smiling as they are listening to Mesfin translate all of this. I love love love my job as sponsorship coordinator of Entoto Mountain!

Next was Kalikiden's home. She is precious as is her mom!! We showed up to deliver the gift her sponsor sent and a new outfit and immediately her mom stripped Kalikiden down and put those new clothes on her and then got to work wanting to give us a coffee ceremony. Mesfin (Endihnew) had to tell her that we had a lot more children to go see and didn't have time to sit for a ceremony but that we loved coming to see them etc... Then I said some things to them and Kalikiden cried when it was time for us to go. Actually, she also hung on my neck and would not let go...even when I started walking. Haha!

when we first arrived and she found out who I was and why I was there
 she came running up to hug me

And then this is her after her mom changed her clothes and got her all 
"dolled up". This precious little girl stole my heart in a big 
way too. I think there is a pattern though...they ALL 
steal my heart!

Then it was time for Sebelwe's home. This kid is a teenager who lives with his dad and younger brother. He is a great kid, an awesome helper, a volunteer in the feeding program, and super smart. He even wanted to show me his report card. We gave him his things and he was thrilled. He also was proud to show us his home which I thought the fact that he was so proud of it was awesome! His dad is a day laborer carrying water in the big pitchers and his mom either passed away or just left. I am not sure... Sebelwe is great friends with my sponsor son so I got to spend extra time with him as he hung out with Belete a lot and Belete was with me the whole time I was there :)

As we were making our way to the next home, we came upon a family that we were going to visit who needed a sponsor. A lady and her 2 daughters. The oldest daughter, Eskevade caught my eye especially as her hair was a blondish/red color which I had never seen before on an Ethiopian child. Mesfin began telling their story: Like so many other families, Nakshe, the mother has a mental illness so she came to Entoto Mtn for the Holy Water as they believe it has healing powers. Nakshe and her family are part of the Orthodox church meaning they are still waiting for the Messiah to come.... As Mesfin was telling the story, he started to explain that the hair color of Eskevade is because she is so malnourished. When he tells this, Nakshe begins crying - huge tears falling from her eyes. I step up beside her and place my arm around her shoulder saying "ishy ihsy" (it's okay it's okay). Not even 10 seconds later, a young mother in my group steps forward with tears streaming and says that she will sponsor her. Alison had been looking for a family to sponsor while on this trip and this was the one for her. Nakshe and Alison hugged as Mesfin explained what was happening to her in Ahmaric. Then there were happy tears!

David had his 2 little buddies with him here

Shelly with her gals and then ahead of her is me with Tigist Haguse on my left - she is my brother and his wife's sponsor child! She came running to find me each day also.

Here is Eskedave's mom, with Mesfin telling me how to spell a name as I take 
notes on my phone so I can enter all of this into the database. This photo makes 
me sad as I see the "thousand yard stare" that Nakshe has. 

And then look closely at her face here and you can just sense the relief when 
Alison steps up and stands in the gap for this sweet mama and her children!

See the blonde hair on the baby? This is what malnourishment looks like in Ethiopian children...

At this point, another mom and her 4 year old son had stopped so Mesfin started with their story as she sobbed. Thirty-three year old Mesia moved to Entoto from the countryside and was working in the clay program making pottery but hurt her hand and had to stop. Now she is having to beg for food and money just to survive and provide for her son. She was raped many times and doesn't know who her son's father is but she doesn't let that stop her from being a very kind and very good mommy to Bereket. He no more than finished that sentence when a school principal on our team said that was his  kid to sponsor and he would take care of them. My heart was filling up faster than I could pour it back out!

Trying to comfort this beautiful worn down soul also. Lord help this lady! 
My heart was just broken...

And little Bereket with Andy as he steps in to shoulder the burden for Mesia!
 Bereket became his sidekick for the rest of the day and the final day we were on Entoto. 

We went to see one more family who needed sponsorship before lunch. The mom, Indagashet is a firewood carrier. She has 3 children - Tazita is 5, Asfaw is 15 and Yenaynsh is 9. They are very very poor and unable to even pay their rent. Many months, Mesfin has to pay it for them because they have no income. Carrying the firewood only pays $1/load and most can only get 2 loads in per day because of the distance. Well, it took me saying that we were going to work very very hard at finding her a sponsor when another lady on my team spoke up and took her on. I was floored! There was rejoicing and happiness all around right then.

Tazita with Connie and her mom

I had to hold this little one. She was a hot little mess! Haha! Look at the look she is giving me...and notice how her hair is beginning to change colors from malnourishment.

Along the way throughout the day, we randomly ran into children who have sponsors but were out and about playing so we stopped and gave them their things. It was so much fun!

Thinate - a new little girl who was sponsored literally 2 days before I left home!

Gezaleaw - handsome fellow who is sponsored as well

All was going well, until this...a mom showed up hitting her son. HITTING HIM!!! He was screaming and crying and ran behind Mesfin for protection. The mom was crying and screaming and then directed it at Mesfin. I was terrified for the little boy and then as she lunged for him, I grabbed him and got terrified for myself and my team. This mom was not right - okay, she was crazy! Mesfin calmed her down and found out that she was mad because the little boy was not sponsored yet and she needed money to take her infant to get medicine because he was sick. She was blaming her older son on not being sponsored! Mesfin gave her money for medicine and reassured her that we were working very hard on finding sponsors for everyone and that I would focus on him next. She then apologized to the team and left on her merry way. My heart was sad, burdened for the child and just confused for the whole situation.

But then this...and I will leave this post with this ray of hope. This day was too much to write in one post. Just too much. Part two coming tomorrow. It has taken me all day to get this out. To relive the joy, the pain, the sadness yet the hope of this day alone. But I do want to leave you with a hint of what is to the day ended.

Little did we know what this would turn out to be later in the day. Our sweet 
little 17 year old Hope and the little guy on the right... a beautiful friendship
 would be formed and the seeds of encouragement, and hope would be planted.