Monday, February 1, 2010

Trip to ET Day 12

Day 12 - I can’t believe only 4 days left!!! Sadly these last couple days I’ve finally hit my stride here and have been accepted by most of the students that see me on campus and I know my way around now. So just when I’m starting to feel more comfortable here I’m leaving. This morning the power went out at the hotel hence no phones to call a taxi or get directions to Operation Rescue, so I decided just to start walking and see where it took me. I knew the general direction but wasn’t sure how far it was. In retrospect it was MUCH farther then I initially thought I when I finally got back to the hotel I was sweating profusely and my legs were in total rebellion b/c here you’re nearly always walking uphill against the wind. It didn’t take me long to get lost with my great sense of direction and I guess this random guy could tell I was turned around b/c he started shouting “Honey, do you need help?” I thought… why not, so I screamed back yes that I was turned around. I then told him where I wanted to go and he said I know just the place I will take you there since I’m going that way. Come to find out his name is Kevin and he’s very nice and a graduate of Mekele University in IT. His brother’s nickname is Beky!!! So he brought me to the WRONG place but from there we found someone who gave us directions then walked again to ANOTHER wrong place and again found out that we’d just passed it up. So finally I got to Operation Rescue and thought I was exhausted and sweaty Kevin was very nice and good company he even turned down my offer of payment which is rare here. So then I was given an overview by an amazing “supervisor” of Operation Rescue with a full video and power point presentation. Let me just say that Operation Rescue is AMAZING! The facilities are superb and it’s by far the best operation I’ve seen anywhere. Basically it is a care center like Kind Hearts in Addis for orphans that are living with foster parents, those kids that are blind, those with HIV/AIDS, and those living in extreme poverty or on the streets. They have a soccer field, basketball courts, SWIMMING POOL, houses for the kids with HIV/AIDS that have been orphaned/abandoned, and boys and girls houses for those kids that have no other place to go, and also a house for blind girls. They have a huge computer room with internet access AND they have software for the blind children to learn computer classes and how to use the internet! I think they are some of the only people in ET to have that capability. They also see many of the kids they serve adopted which is fabulous but their goal is to keep the kids with their families so they also teach technical/vocational classes to the children’s parents to raise them out of extreme poverty. They also give a monthly stipend to their university students. They don’t just drop children once they reach 18 years they want to continue to help them until they gradation from University or technical college and can be self sufficient. Many of the university students come back in the summer to teach summer school. The kids spend a half day at their regular school then ½ day at the care center where they have further schooling in computers, English, music, etc. They are also fed lunch and have some play time. The HIV + kids are completely integrated and there is no discrimination. They have several blind students at University and currently also house a young girl whose mother is attending University sponsored by Operation Rescue. To supplement the organization they also have a guest house attached to the blind girls home that is very nice and volunteers from all over can stay there while they are working with the organization. They have children from preschool and up. They don’t accept new children unless they have a sponsor lined up so right now they have 320 kids but hope to have at least 400 by the time the year is out. They play ground is fantastic and there’s tons of room there. They even have bathrooms with showers! Every 3 months you get a full report with photo of your child with their grades, what they have been up to, what their plans are, how their family (if they have one) has progressed, etc. I saw on the computer one of their typical reports again it’s one of the best I’ve seen. Also since the kids have internet access they can e-mail their sponsors directly.
The couple who started the organization 10 years ago have left Ethiopia and gone to Brazil (the husband’s home country) and started a sister organization there as well. I heard several heart breaking stories today about what these kids have already had to endure and it almost seems made up. I pray that these kids continue to find adoptive parents and that if they have parents who are alive that they can make a better life for themselves.
So after Operation Rescue I saw these cows with HUGE horns being herded down the street and the supervisor told me they were going to the animal market and that it was just up the road if I wanted to go. So we started huffing it up this dusty rocky road to the market and it was amazing! I felt like I’d stepped back in time 1000 years. The camels were soooooo cool! There are these little random tents where they sell tea and these kids were all eating these little bitty pea type beans that were roasted in these trash can type lids. The animals would just wander around and mingle and somehow people could tell their animals apart from others. I had sand in my eyes, ears, and coating my teeth. We then left and I walked back to the hotel. I immediately had to shower again and the floor of my bathroom is still muddy! So then I went to the university to use the internet which of course wouldn’t let me send e-mails and I watched the surgical films they show the students since they have no anesthetic drugs to do practical training unfortunately. The Dean was then taking me home and thought he would call a friend he knows who works with Operation Rescue, well by chance she was with a friend of hers from Fort Worth who has a 13 year old Golden Retriever here in Africa who’s been very sick so she wanted to come to my hotel to take me to see her dog since the vet here wasn’t helping her at all. So I went to her house (which was like a resort after what I’ve seen here) and the minute I palpated the dog’s abdomen I could feel a lumpy cranial abdominal mass (likely spleen). So I told her my diagnosis and that the only option was surgery which again we can’t really do since they don’t have anesthesia and b/c of her age with no fluids, etc. her prognosis was grave, so tomorrow they will euthanize at the vet school. The saddest part is that this dog has been to the vet almost every day here in Mekele and no one picked up on that or even thought to palpate her belly! The care here is so poor, and it’s not that the Universities don’t try it’s just that they have soooo little to work with and some of the professors are typically recent graduates who have little to no practical experience. It was the first time I felt like I’d done anything relating to veterinary medicine since I’ve been here and I’m leaving in 1 day! So tomorrow is rock church day! YEA! Also ironically when I mentioned to my new friend from Ft. Worth about my trip to Axum and how I’d met a man who put me in touch with a tour guide she said is it Dawit? He’s my friend. And of course that’s his name! Wild right. Even in Africa there’s like 3 degrees of separation J I wish I’d known about Laura earlier b/c honestly staying with her would have been such a blessing as opposed to being on my own. She told me that there’s a shopping center here mainly for “forenges” (foreigners) and that there’s even a forenge part of town. At least if I come back to Mekele I know of a place to stay and a kind face to turn to.
I may have said it before but my bathroom has a large pipe that communicates with the next door bathroom and it’s AWFUL! Last night I was awoken by some loud ladies next door and tonight it’s men talking loudly, listening to loud music, and pottying loudly as well J I feel like I should go into my bathroom and make all these disgusting fake noises just to see if it will make them shut their bathroom door or be more quiet. Also there are like 12 Russian men staying here that I see eating lunch every now and then. Since ET was at one time under Communist rule by the Italians, it’s weird how they still have strong relations with countries like Cuba, Russia, and China.
Also today I was checking my e-mail and saw how many families that adopted the same time as us have put in their paperwork to start their second adoptions. I think we are the only family in our travel group who hasn’t started our second adoption aside from the Whitters! I just wish the Lord would give me some guidance as to what we’re supposed to do as far as our request and will ease some of the stress of financing the next one. I’m so super duper ready to start again especially after this trip but I still am not sure if we’re supposed to pursue an HIV+ child or not.

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