Monday, March 15, 2010

Back To Ethiopia and Beyond!

I’m amazed by life
and it’s amazed by me
It’s a long, hard road
With a good, good end.
It’s a long, hard road
With a good, good end
In a way, I will miss washing my underwear and hanging them on my
bedpost to dry.. because sometimes I wrestle with living
conventionally. Walking the dirt path, trying to make conversation
with the sweetest rasta who only speaks a little English.. Never
knowing whether the power or water will be on; whether I’ll be sitting
in the dark all evening or actually be able to brush my teeth..
Looking up at night and actually being able to see the billions and
billions of stars, not just scattered across but crowding each other
in the sky, wishing that they could get closer; jealous of the sun,
their brother, who floods our eyes, warms our skin, and brings color
to our world..
I’ll miss the children who smile at me when I watch them dancing,
because they know how beautiful I think they are. This world has
limited their chances, withheld food from their stomachs, robbed them
of their parents with a terrible disease.. yet it cannot rob them of
their joy; they will not let this world steal away their joy. They
will not stop singing and they will dance – they will dance in this
world full of inequalities and unnecessary injustices. I will fly back
to a land that claims to be free, and still they will be the ones who
sing. They will be the ones who dance.
I will miss the people who came to be my friends; African people who
don’t have to live at the poverty level, yet they do because they care
so much about helping people who are hurting. Their hearts are so
rich. Their hearts are so blessed. The bishop and his family don’t
have to eat rice and beans for almost every meal, but they do because
they care more about people than the food on their plate. I have seen
the love of Jesus in these people.
There are two girls who live in the same neighborhood. They both were
a part of the program but didn’t have sponsors. I visited both of
their homes one afternoon last week.
The first was the home of eleven year old Shida. Her name means
problem in Swahili. When I came, she was in school, but her mother
welcomed us into the little one-room house where the two of them live.
Shida’s mother, Lucy is an HIV positive widow, one of sooo many hard
working Mamas, who want nothing more than to provide for their
children. I asked her how she earns money, and she explained that in
the market, they will pay her fifty cents per five gallon bucket to
shell peas, but she is often too sick to get out of bed, so on those
days she and Shida have no food to eat. Sometimes they will go two or
3 days a week without food. She is worried because she often doesn’t
have enough to cover the five dollars a month that she has to pay for
rent. When I talked to her she just seemed weary.. discouraged.. I
can’t imagine. I can’t imagine if my husband had died.. I’d feel so
very alone, raising a little girl, HIV stealing my ability to provide
for her, wondering who would care for her if and when I’m taken from
her too.. Watching her go to school hungry..
Shida is a sweet girl.. she loves her friends and she is a strong
student. She knows that a good education will help her to have a
hopeful future. She is hope. Her name means problem, but she is hope.
As we were walking back from Shida’s house, a girl hopped up from the
side of one of the neighboring houses and ran to us. I had only met
Sauda once before and didn’t know much about her, so we took the
opportunity to visit her home and find out why she wasn’t in school. I
would find that Sauda, at thirteen years old, is much stronger than I
could ever claim to be.
 Both of her parents were HIV positive, and she has the virus as well.
When her mother died, her father’s health started failing as well. He
has given up on living much longer and has moved with her younger
sister back to their family’s village so that when he dies, they won’t
have to pay for transportation to the burial grounds. Sauda alone has
been left in charge of the one small room the family had been renting.
She lives off of the small bags of flour and beans that the church
provides her with, and has no money for school fees. I asked her what
she does during the day, and she said that she just does nothing. She
lives alone in this small room of a larger house where other people
have rented rooms as well.. Including some untrustworthy older guys..
Thirteen years old, HIV positive, and living all alone.
She wants to go back to school, she wants to grow up to be a police
officer.. but when her father dies she is going to be faced with
providing for both herself and her younger sister.
I was able to get in contact with some friends who want to invest
directly in the lives of these girls, and now they both have sponsors.
Shida will get to eat. Sauda will go back to school. Thank you friends
I’m in Ethiopia now, and it’s nice to be in a bit of a familiar place.
It’s amazing how different it is from Tanzania, even though the two
countries are only separated by Kenya. I’m staying at a guest house,
and it’s a little lonely.. but I’ll be back in a week and a half ;) .
While I’m here, I’m just spending time between AHOPE Ethiopia’s three
facilities. They have an older children’s compound, a younger
children’s compound, and a community-based care center. More on that
later though.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Small Things

This is my last week in Dodoma. Not too much has gone on in the last couple days, so this post is just going to be about a few random bits and pieces.

 A lot of my time here is spent just doing life.. People here aren’t constantly racing time like we do at home. Rather they move along with time. They ask me what I find to be the biggest difference between Africans and Americans, and I usually say that people at home are often very stressed, very busy, and they want everything as quickly as possible. But here, people ALWAYS have time to stop and greet one another, find out how they are doing… quick to offer tea and conversation. People are used to things coming slowly, or not coming at all.  I think I’ve grown to appreciate it, especially because of how ruthlessly I have strangled myself with time and schedule over the past couple semesters. If you want to kill your spirit, I know well how to do it. I’m only now learning how to recover..
My Grandma Ellaine told me a few months ago that I’ll have years and years to be grown up, but only a short time to be young, so I need to relax and have more fun. I’d say that’s wise advice J I guess I’m a pretty self motivated person, but I’ve just been pushing too hard. It’s not worth it. (I’m talking about life at home, with work and school.. not here obviously lol.)

Something interesting about this church I’ve been working with… It was once a disco-slash-brothel, so I have been told. What is now their sanctuary was once a place people would come to dance, and what are now offices were once bedrooms where people could go after dancing to do certain OTHER activities… Yeah, I’m posting this blog from one of them. Lol.

A couple mornings a week, I have been teaching a class of about 30 preschoolers. It pretty much involves holding up pictures, and having the kids yell their numbers and letters while trying to keep them from throwing punches at each other. I don’t know how effective it is, but at least they are participating.
On Saturday we are going to spend the weekend in a town called Morogoro with a pastor who wants to start a ministry like this there. After that, I'm heading to Dar Es Salaam and on  to Addis Ababa!

I have heard a lot from people who are concerned about Victoria and I just want to say thank you for your prayers. She does have tuberculosis, but it's going to be ensured that she is on treatment and getting good nutrition, so hopefully there will be improvement.

I have a few more stories about kids, and hopefully I can get them up in the next couple of days :)