Sunday, January 17, 2010

having a great time

Gosh I love being in Ethiopia w/o being sick!  Kind Hearts Care Center and School is in what Ethiopians would refer to as the country even though it's really barely outside the city limits but it is gorgeous!  Wonderful mountain views and little to no smog.  i love it out there.  Kind Hearts has got TONS of acreage so i was talking with Peter (children's hope chests go to man) and I was asking why they don't have chickens or goats or even cattle on the land since there's plenty vegetation and at least they could either slaughter them to feed the children more then just rice or they could sell them to raise funds for the center.  He said that since now Children's hope chest is involved that they hope to raise funds to purchase some livestock for that purpose.  The entire facility is bare bones at best.  The class rooms are nice and have a blackboard and a desk but the entire facility is surrounded by a polluted river that makes animals and people sick if they fall into it.  it's that foul!  So the kids are at risk and until they can clean up the river or dig a trench/well for watering the animals they won't be able to get any livestock for a while.  Their other hope is to build bathroom and shower facilities there.  Right now all they have is a lean to tin building with a hole in the ground.  let me just say that I've had to get over my fear of spiders really quickly since most of the shinta baits (bathrooms) are in tin shacks with all kinds of critters living in them.  i also was taken to the hope chest office and saw their donation closet.  There are LOTS of school supplies.  They don't need any more for a while.  I brought a suit case full and what they really need are clothes and shoes.  Peter also said some of the stuff that has been donated they haven't handed out b/c they don't know what it is.  I was chatting with the gate guard and peter came up to me with a SLINKY and said, "Becky... what is the meaning of this? What does it do?"  I had also brought a few games of jacks and they had no idea what that was so i'd say if you want to bring donations just keep it simple. 
At first the kids were very shy and seemed a bit scared of me honestly, but then i brought out the candy and it was like a riot and i then had about 30 new best friends!  There is a PRECIOUS boy there named EZRA!!! 
Yesterday I hired a driver who was fabulous by the way.  he's friends with Alaztar and works as a driver to help raise money for an orphanage that he started.  So i went to AHOPE in the morning and what a treat that was.  i STRONGLY recommend for everyone to go there. It's a very nice facility with playground, great beds for the babies and toddlers with tons of toys and crayons and lots of enrichment.  Of course it also breaks your heart knowing that the kids aren't getting optimal care.  I fell in love with a little 1 year old boy who honestly is the happiest toddler I've ever seen.  But to barely touch him you feel how bad his chest rattle is and he had copious amounts of green snot.  of course that didn't seem to bother him a bit.  They had a few little babies there as well and it just seems so unfair for someone to have to begin their life with such a disease.  For the most part many of the kids looked healthy but there were others that signs of HIV were lingering over like papular growths all over their faces and patchy scabs and hairloss.  the nannies were AMAZING at AHOPE.  You can tell that they love their jobs and care deeply for the children.  i'd encourage EVERYONE to consider adopting an HIV+ child.  They will truly enrich your life. 
After AHOPE my driver wanted to take me to his orphanage.  They have 2 facilities, one for children under 1 year old and another for all other children over 1 year.  it is a small facility since they take in ONLY abandoned children.  They have 5 girls and 2 baby boys.  I think that only one hasn't been spoken for yet b/c he is new.  I fell head over heels for one baby girl in particular and was heartbroken to find that she's already been adopted.  I know it's a great thing but i wanted her for myself :)  They were all amazingly beautiful.  the nannies there also are fantastic and actually have beds in the baby rooms so they can be with them at all times.  They also put large pictures of the babies adoptive parents over their beds so they can get used to seeing their faces.  my driver said that since they only work with one adoption agency and they take only abandoned kids that the process is much faster and less hassle at court. 
I was telling one of the gate guards about where i'm from (Louisiana) and trying to explain Cajun culture was more difficult then i thought.  When i told him that we eat frogs he cracked up and had to start screaming to any one in the vicinity that "Becky eat frog!"  I had to stress that it's just the legs not the whole body or anything.  But i was also telling him about gumbo, etoufee, sauce picante (spelling), and alligator.  Then since they eat raw meat I was telling him abut sushi which he'd never heard of.  Trying to explain a sushi roll was also more difficult then I'd thought it would be. 
I went shopping yesterday afternoon but I didn't really find stuff that stood out to me so i'm hoping there better shopping in mekele and Lalibela. 
I love my hotel Addis Guest House.  The staff is amazing and super accomodating.  My bed is very comfy as well.  I have such bad jet lag that i'm asleep by 4pm but I wake up at like 10pm and am wide awake.  Luckily the TV has a movie channel so i've seen old episodes of Friends, Collateral Damage (twice), the BBC, and for some reason there are all these ridiculously cheesy horor films.  This morning i watched Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys!!! And all the commercials are in Arabic.  most of them don't even make sense.  For example there will be this arabic couple singing and shopping for furniture then all of a sudden it says TWIX with a photo of the candy bars.  I'm picking up on Amharic quite a bit.  That's not to say that I can have a conversation but at least I can manage a little bit. 
So I fly to Mekele at 2pm and I'm anxious to see what the hotel will be like there and where I will eat.  For the past 2 days I'm eaten pizza at the same place b/c it's really good.  but i'm not sure what i'll do if they don't have pizza there and i don't have a way to boil water. 
I have to get going to pack up my stuff since i'm heading to the airport shortly.  I'm still doing great health wise and am very grateful for your prayers as it seems like they are really working.  I tried to take lots of pictures at kind hearts so when I get home i'll make a picassa album and if you sponsor a child there I will send it to you.  I love it here so much! 

Becky Lee Burk
bringinghomeezra.blogspot.com

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