Ethiopia, Day 7
Today nothing was scheduled with our agency except dinner, so we spent some time relaxing at the guest house in the morning. We had traditional Ethiopian food for lunch (Yum!) and a coffee ceremony afterwards.
Once the coffee ceremony was done, we went to visit Yezelalem Minch. Yezelalem Minch is a wonderful ministry that our guest house host, Birtukan, started. They work very hard to care for the orphans in their community, as well as their caregivers. There are so many, many orphans in Ethiopia. Many of them have nowhere to go. Others have extended family or friends who would take them, but can't afford another mouth to feed.
That's where Yezelalem Minch comes in. They have a sponsorship program for these children so that their basic needs (food, clothing, education, medical care, etc) can be taken care of and they can stay with their family members. They also have a boys' home and a girls' home to care for children who have nowhere else to go.
Each Saturday they run a feeding program and feed over 200 children; they also have Bible classes and games for them.
S and I decided to sponsor two children through Yezelalem Minch. It is $30 a month, but provides so much for these children. After seeing poverty up close and personally, it is hard to justify having all the stuff we have. It's hard to justify going on expensive vacations, buying video games, eating 3 meals a day plus snacks.
When we mentioned to Birtukan that we wanted to sponsor two children, she was so excited! She hugged me and thanked me over and over again. But (and I'm trying to just be honest here) I didn't like it. It's such a very small thing that we can do. $60 a month? Not really that big of a deal. We wish we could do so very much more, and are working to be in a financial place where we can.
I think we're supposed to struggle with this. I don't think we're supposed to ever be satisfied with the fact that we have so much more than so many others in the world. When faced with children who live in abject poverty, who've lost their parents, who don't know if they're going to eat the next day, how can we not take action? How can we not struggle with this knowledge?
Anyway, back to this post instead of my sermon...
We went to Yezelalem Minch, which is quite close to the guest house. They told us about the ministry and what they are doing in the community, and then we met our sponsor children. A little girl who is 8 years old, and a boy who is 7. (For privacy reasons we won't be posting their pictures on the blog.) The little girl is living with a relative; her father has passed away and her mother is very ill. She had a very sad expression on her face the whole time we were there.
The little boy lost both parents and is also living with a relative. He is HIV positive, can't hear out of one ear, and one of his eyes doesn't work properly.
They were both so sweet, though it was difficult to really say what was on our hearts, since we couldn't speak their language. We met their caregivers, who were so happy to know that their children would be provided for each month. We were able to spend a bit of time with them, but then it was time to say good-bye.
Back at the guest house, we got ready to go out to a traditional cultural dinner at a restaurant. We weren't supposed to take the babies with us, and the guest house staff was planning to watch them. It was quite nerve-wracking for me to leave Nathan! I knew he'd be fine, and it would be good for him to see that we left, but we came back. But I still was uncomfortable with it.
But I got all of his things ready, fed him and put him in PJ's. All the staff would need to do was give him a bottle and put him to bed about an hour after we left. No biggie, right? That's what I kept telling myself, anyway!
I brought Nathan down in his pajamas; a short-sleeve shirt, pants, and socks. Very cute. But apparently not warm enough! In Ethiopian culture, it is very common to bundle up the babies very warmly. So Birtukan insisted that I bring a sweatshirt down for him! (I was wearing a cotton skirt, sandals, and a short sleeve shirt and was very comfortable, but she thought it was quite cold!) Anyway, I brought the sweatshirt down for him, and we left.
The cultural dinner was nice, though some of the food was rather... interesting. Did you know you can make a “cheese” out of the center of the trunk from a banana tree? Yeah, I didn't know either. But apparently you can.
There was also traditional Ethiopian dancing and singing. It was a nice time, but we were ready to get back to the guest house and get to bed!