Thursday, January 22, 2009
Day 3 - Tuesday - Kolfe, Kechene
Day 3-Tuesday-Kolfe, Kechene
The morning was pleasant as Abeba had slept through the whole night, even if we had not. We had so many things on our minds. I went to the Hilton to exchange some money and to reconfirm our plane tickets there. Our driver Eyasu was absolutely wonderful, a man of few words, but was gracious, hospitable and could give any Formula 1 driver a run for their money. Driving in Addis Ababa definitely is not for the faint of heart. There are no traffic lights, traffic signs, street sign or lane markers. Eyasu was very skilled in all of this and is a man of much patience. Not only did he know shortcuts (he was always the first Gladney driver at meeting places), but he put up with Abeba's tantrum throwing whenever she got into the car. We appreciated so much the Gladney staff and Eyasu is no exception.
Abeba opened up to Melissa alot while I was at the Hilton. She began to laugh a little and smile alot. She Even began to baby babble a little with Melissa. They spent the time that I was away playing in the yard at Ayat house. Abeba became difficult in the afternoon and refused to take a nap. She would just about doze off to sleep and then would wake up screaming, as if sleep somehow frightened her. We are puzzled and may never know why she was scared of sleep but we are relived now that she is sleeping.
We as a Gladney group (us, 3 other families and Ryan) went to visit a couple of Ethiopian Government ran orphanages. The first that we visited was Kolfe, and orphanage for boys aged 8-16. We had a package to deliver to one of the boys there from the Roberts Family and hoped that we would get to meet him. We arrived an immediately some of the younger boys began flocking to us, some even grabbed our hands and walked around the compound with us. It struck me every time that we visited these orphanages how joyful these children could be in the midst of unspeakably difficult conditions. There is a video that I posted a few posts ago that states "I need Africa more than Africa needs me". The premise is that witnessing people expressing joy in the midst of trials that few of us will ever know show cause us to strive for that same joy. I am talking about real joy here, the joy that comes from a life lived for the Glory of God and for pleasing him, regardless of what circumstances we find ourselves in.
The conditions in Kolfe were really difficult. Most of the buildings did not have windows in them. The floors were filthy and the eating area was atrocious, but for these boys it was better than life on the streets. The boys can live in the orphanage until they are 18 if they stay in school. We were shown the kitchen and the other common areas, as well as the bedrooms. The boys loved to have their photos taken and were quick to tell us their names and to ask us ours. One boy told us that his favorite place in the US was Texas, because he liked the hats that they were there! We loved the time that we spent with the boys of Kolfe and I pray that we will not soon forget them. We didn't get to meet the boy that the Roberts had sent a package for, he was away at school for the day, but Ryan promised to deliver it for us. Gladney is investing time and money in Kolfe by installing a biogas system there and helping with improvements to the buildings. I hope to become involved with some projects that Gladney is undertaking in the orphanages, we were really impacted and are praying about how God will use us next in the lives of Orphans in Ethiopia. Kolfe had an impact on our lives, but the next orphange impacted us even more, Kechene.
Kechene is another government run orphanage. This orphanage had somewhat better conditions than Kolfe. The reason for that is because it houses mainly girls. Girls receive more funding than boys because there seems to be more emphasis on seeing that girls are kept off of the streets and falling pray to all the things there (like prostitution and the like). Here we too were immediately met by several children wanting to walk around with us. We were shown the older girls housing first. 12 year old girls were sleeping in beds the size of a toddler bed, the infants were put in small with bottles and propped up with a blanket. We had a really difficult time making it through the infants area and cried alot.
While we were walking from the infant area we saw a group of about 4 girls aged 10-12 talking. We began to talk to them and they were so friendly and thoughtful. They asked us questions about what we thought of Ethiopia and if we thought the US was a better country. It was obvious from their thoughts that they longed for a better place and for a family. We were so struck by these young ladies and there sense of humility and love and again by their joy and smile on their faces even though they have so little material things and indeed this may be one of the reasons for their joy, the lack of material things.
Melissa spent alot of time talking to one girl in particular, we exchanged our addresses and promised to write to them. As we were leaving in the car the girl came up to the window and said "please don't forget us". I pray that we will never forget our experience at Kolfe and Kechene. It has made us think about what God has in store for our family in the future.