Today we woke up at our hotel in Awassa. It was the first night I actually slept. I got a good six hours in. We skyped with Tina, but there was about a ½ minute delay with all the sentences so it took her and I a while to figure that out and work with the system. I know now that we could not skype Liviann, but could skype with other adults.
I was hoping to skip breakfast, but alemu insisted that we go the restaurant and eat. We both had French toast and a maciono coffee. One of the birth mothers had been waiting at the hotel for their family. She had traveled 8 hours to spend just a few minutes with the adoptive family to tell them about the history of her family and express her gratitude. They have such dedication and are stronger than I could ever be if I were giving away the child I loved just so that child could survive. She then waited for 6 more hours for her appointment to meet the family.
After that we all piled in the car to see the orphanage where Tarikua lived for 3-4 months of her life. There was a small gate where van could barely squeeze in the door. The court yard had some sparse grass and clothes lines with linens hanging. The kitchen was room the size of my bedroom closet with a small cooking station. It looked like a Webber grill close to the ground. It was filled with wood sticks and a few coals with a pan over the top. On the side was a small shelf with a few canned items and little refrigerator to store some food. Off of that room was an outside “stall” with a hole in the bottom. There was no “seat” just a hole going into the ground. This was the bathroom for the orphanage. We saw the office where the records were kept. There was a photo on the wall of Ruhammah. Ruhammah is one of the babies our friends had adopted. The secretary had a special spot in her heart for that baby and had a photo of her taken. How special is that?
The room with the babies was about 10 by 10. Very clean. A small shelf held all the clothes for the children. I am sure if I checked at home, rich’s dirty clothes hamper has more clothes in it than the orphanage has all together.
Each baby has their own crib. More luxury than most orphages here in Ethiopia. Nothing but the best for our Tara! They keep very detailed records of each baby, the health and food so the next nanny will know what to do. They would not let me hold the babies (which is a good thing). The nannies were very protective. The kids were so cute and I photographed each as I know they will soon be adopted by AAI families. A few small toys (maybe enough to fill a shoe box) lined up on the ledge. Everything was very clean and organized in the orphanage.
Got a tour of the orphanage and saw the children’s room (bigger kids) and where they plan on helping desperate mothers with teaching a skill (hopefully sewing – the room is empty right now). Touring the orphanage is like touring a small dentist office. It did not take long to get through everything. We had a traditional coffee ceremony and some of the parents met with the mothers. There was a small kitten running around the orphanage with a string tied to his leg. I am sure he gets pulled around a bit.
During that time I spoke privately with the directors of the orphanage. I had a chance to ask the personal questions about Tarikua and her mother and even more became clear. The orphanage director is a really good guy. I had given him a few decorations for the orphanage walls. Nothing big money and he thanked me profusely for what I would consider dollar store change. Travis joined me and we asked him directly what things the orphanage was in need of. He said that he does not like to ask people for things. He has just a little English and used the word pulling instead of asking and we knew what he meant. He said he would only take things if the they came upon the idea them self. He trusted the lord would care for the children. Travis pressed him and said that the family wanted us to ask him for ideas on what to bring. The first thing he said was medicines. Then he said a few toys for the children as they have nothing to play with except this field of grass (to us was like a few parking spaces over grown with weedy grass, not a field). Then he said a table and I realized the orphanage did not have a table anywhere. He then showed a rickety old bike and said it was the only means of transportation for all the orphanages branches. Can you imagine going to get an abandon baby on a bike 80 miles away through the mountains? Now you can. Travis encouraged him further and he said all the branches share one desktop computer and it sure would be nice to have a portable laptop (I think it would be nice to have several). He was so kind and committed and kept going back to the children. He was genuine. At that point I figured out that we told to bring 6 gifts for the orphanage workers but there really was a staff of about 20 or more. Rachael and I both wish we had brought more.
The secretary helped me discuss Tara with the nannies. I asked what they liked about her or what she was like and they said smilely and like to eat. I asked them how often she ate and they said “all the time”. Then I asked about how many bottles a day? They said “when ever she cried… All the time”. They said “she is big”. They giggled.
Back on the road we consoled a family who was very sad. They had met the mother of their child and were not prepared for what they were told. Sometimes the information in these meetings is unexpected, ours certainly was too.
We landed at an upscale restaurant and had a very good meal. I had fish and rich had beef stir-fry. Some had traditional ET or Italian. All was fantastic and coffee at the end was grand.
Dropped off the bags at the hotel and went to Lake Awassa. We took a small boat to look at hippos in the wild. Some people were scared. It was classic that our boat had a small boy with a sponge and pail bailing the water from the boat as we traveled. The hippos were gigantic and weighed about one ton each. There were about 50 in the lake and mostly photographed a small heard of 14.
Then we headed into Sedoma area where Tara’s tribe is from. We met a local farmer who showed us how coffee grows. He showed us also sugar cane and false banana trees. They are giants. It was like walking among mini redwoods. Local children hid behind they trees and followed us. They dared a small girl about 4 years old to see me. I took their photo and showed it to them. The all busted out in giggles and bliss. Now all kinds of kids surfaced and wanted us to take their photos. It was really fun. The children were obviously poor. No shoes and torn shirts with holes and wear. Just like you see on those commercials for sponsoring a child. Later the children did a dance for us and sang a local song. The cow in the background moo’d loudly in protest. We toured the home of the farmer. A large stick and mud circular hut with a grass roof. Inside there was a woman and two small children. One the age of Livi and one about one year old. The children had only a shirt on, no pants. There was a small fire in the corner of the dark hut. The smoke was so thick you could not see to walk. The small baby coughed loudly. Several of the girls could not stay in the building be a few seconds. The smoke you could cut with a knife. We gave the owner of the farm some birr to help the children. By now neighbors had arrive to see the spectacular rare white people with blond hair. About 50 people now are watching us and of course most are children. Some small girls around seven or eight with babies strapped to their backs. The obviously were child run households. They followed us down the road for miles where the speed of the van out ran them.
We had a big dinner back at the hotel. We had white wine and lots of conversation. After that we met with Alemu to get our paperwork in order individually. We were last. Then we went to Rachel and Travis’s room and worked on documentation till about 2am. Now it is even later and I have to go because I have some bugs crawling on me. Yuck. Again. There is chanting out side and drums. It has to be close to three am.