Monday, February 1, 2010

Trip to ET Day 14

Day 14 - Today I flew to Axum and the planes seats literally weren’t attached. It was wild! When the plane accelerated my seat kept slipping off of the metal frame. The flight was great and quick and the scenery was beautiful. Then I met up with my travel guide Dawit with Covenant Travel. He took me to all the archeological sites in the city which were pretty neat, to see the tombs and monoliths. Though the Arc of the Covenant is supposed to be kept in one of the churches attached to a monastery here woman can’t go in to see it. Axum is neat and the history of the city is amazing but I sort of wish I would have skipped it and just gone to Lake Tana or Gondor. I heard you can see hippos at Lake Tana! Axum’s landscape is much the same as Mekele so visually it’s not much different. The Yeha hotel is quite nice. Much nicer then the Abraha Castle even thought they are both government owned thought the restaurant is quite poor. The price I paid with the travel agent’s discount was $33.00 for a room with twin beds. Dawit is involved with a new small orphanage here in Axum so I went to visit the kids there and got some great video. They have 6 boys and 5 girls. They are nearly 100% supported by 2 people in the states and need funding. I have information for their organization for those interested. I also learned more information about the lack of correct knowledge in Africa about the transmission of HIV. On of the directors was told about a little girl left on the streets that is 4 years old. She was sick so they took her to the doctor who diagnosed her with HIV. Because there is so much stigma and WRONG information about transmission they put the child back out on the street so as not to spread it to the other children who are all negative. I tried my best to stress how it’s nearly impossible to transmit from one child to another w/o needle sharing or blood transfers but they said that the doctor actually agreed with their decision not to take in the child. SO DISAPPOINTING. I have no idea if she’s still alive or what. I also saw another small boy, maybe 5 years old who’s parents died when he was 4 and he went to live with his grandmother. She kept him for 3 weeks then dumped him near the big Orthodox church here. He stays with a widow who has 3 kids at night but during the day he begs for money for food. That is his life. Dawit went to the grandmother’s house pretending to be the police with the boy, but the grandmother immediately started screaming and telling them to get the boy out that she had dumped him. Also a lady came up to Dawit this evening saying that her husband had died so she has to leave her children alone while she goes to beg or find some work and that her 3 children have been missing for 3 days. The woman was weeping but he could do nothing. As far as he knew of there weren’t any found kids reported to him by social affairs. Can you imagine? This is one woman’s life experience today. Also I was speaking with a student in Mekele about adoption and he just couldn’t understand why people would want to adopt but he was especially shocked that Michael and I didn’t plan to have biological kids at all and only wanted to adopt. He told me that even if his brother’s children died he would not adopt them so for foreigners to come in and adopt their kids is just mind boggling for him. Just in Axum there are 700 orphans. About 80% of them are street kids relying on the religious tourism to feed themselves. I’m quite anxious to get to Lalibela and take in all the sights. Then it’s one day closer to home. Also internet access here at Yeha is 1.25 birr/minute just FYI.

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