Monday, June 22, 2009

It's Raining It's Pouring

Hello ladies and gentleman. Keely O’Dell here. Long blog post
coming…so lean back, take off your shoes and get comfortable. Here we

So much to report since last we talked. Lets see… I think last you
heard from Kelly, she was home sick. Well, she continued to get more
and more sick until finally going to the doctor and learning that she
had bronchitis. She was prescribed copious amount of medication (all
for less than 2 USD… that puts those Walmart prices to shame!) which
unfortunately took a while to kick in but she is slowly starting to
feel better. YAY!!

We have been really busy, spending a lot of time a Kebebtsehay.
Everyday (after our 2-3 taxi rides) we make the walk in on the gravel
road. As we approach the gates, we start to hear tons of kids shouting
“you, you, you….candy. candy. CANDY!” And there are all of little
hands reaching out to greet us. And this is just the neighborhood
kids, playing on the road near their homes. As soon as we walk in, we
are greeted with screams of “Keelly!!!” (this is some type of hybrid
name that everyone seems to call both of us). Quickly followed by
tons of Salam no ‘s and Dana no’s (Amharic greetings), kisses on the
cheeks and lots of high fives and hand shakes (we have taught them a
signature handshake which ends with “blowing it up.”) Everyday that we
walk in, this moment, regardless of what I was feeling before… is
amazing. And then we wade through the crowd and into the baby/toddler
room. And are again greeted with cries of KEELLY!!! And little bodies
running towards us. Goodbyes are pretty much the same… just in
reverse order. And lots of promises of our returns in the near

This last week we have really felt good about the progress that we are
making at the orphanage. Finally lots of our efforts and projects are
coming to fruition. We continue to get to know and improve our
relationships with the caregivers. They have started to take a lot
more interest in what we are doing and value all our efforts to help.
Kelly and I are getting geared up for the education programs next
week. (well, lets be honest… there is still a lot of work to do!!!)
The director of the orphanage and the caregivers are all very excited
to learn, which is a great start. Other progress… in random order: We
were able to get an appointment for Addisa (the little baby we told
you about a few posts ago) with a pediatric neurologist in here in
Addis. As per usual, the process is a little thrown together…but we
are so thankful that she is getting the care that she needs. Also, we
have arranged to take several of the kids we work with to the
orthotist so that they can have braces made for their feet and ankles.

And the chairs…oh the chairs. We bought all the supplies late last
week. A long process that took several hours and making even more
friends at the Mercado. The next day, we got all the metal cut
according to our plans. Then, we realized that several of our cuts
were wrong. Then we got them cut again (finally, about five days
later….oh the joys of limited power!) And now they all sit in a pile
on our living room floor, waiting for us to put them together
tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Lets see… what else. Well, there was a four day stretch that we
didn’t have water. Now, you might being saying to yourself- that
doesn’t sound fun, but how bad can it be (and those of you who know me
well are saying right now… Keely get serious, you hardly take showers
more often than that at home). Well, it gets a lot worse if…
A. if you have bronchitis (see paragraph 1)
B. have to use the entire bucket of water for one toilet flush…. And
you live in a house with four girls
C. If you gave the house keeper basically all your clothes, thinking
the laundry would be done on day one of no water… and you had to wear
the same clothes over and over hoping that maybe just maybe today
would be the day the water would be turned back on and your clothes
would be washed.
D. rainy season officially begins…. Which can be loosely translated
into muddy season.

Seriously though, the rain has begun. And we were all shocked to know
that not only does it rain. It rains hard! And hails too. Usually the
mornings start out sunny and then it rains in the afternoon. It is
kind of funny because there will be tons of people on the streets,
walking around/ shopping….what have you… then suddenly the rain begins
and within seconds the street vendors pack-up or cover their items and
everyone seeks cover in some enclave or under an overhang. Then it
pours (and or hails)—about 30 minutes. And then just a few minutes
after it stops, everyone is back out on the streets going about their

It has definitely given me a new understanding for the shoe shining
business. A thriving and very popular business venture for young boys
in the city. It costs 1-2 birr per shoe (inflation that Yemamu says
is up from 50 cents per shoe in his shoe shining days). Anyway, I had
my first opportunity for a shoe shine on Wednesday this week. Its
quite a process really- an art. They take out your shoe laces and
scrub with soap and water, but manage to not get your socks wet at
all. Then a little shine and a re-tie. And they were REALLY clean.
(for about 12 hours…until it rained the next day). Supply and demand…
these boys are onto something!

This last weekend was awesome. Starting with Saturday… we spent an
amazing day getting to see the lives of our Ethiopian BFFs—Yemamu,
Alex and Misfin. Not sure if we have introduced all of them to you…
but explanations will follow. We started first with Yemamu getting a
tour of the Leprosy and TB hospital that is right next to his village.
Since both his parents were struck with leprosy, he lives right near
by in what has become a leprosy colony. It was an amazing
facility—very humbling. To look around at the beautiful trees and
building, the colorful tin houses, and the kids running about and to
realize… this is their life. All these thousands of people who are
affected by this disease, this poverty. At the hospital, there is a
huge craft store where people who have been affected by leprosy are
employed making crafts. These beautiful and impressive good are
completely home made…beginning with the spinning of the thread, making
the cloth, and embroidering the fabric. We came back a few days later
and bought lots of cool stuff!

We moved along toward Yemamu’s house and stopped to talk with some
other young men, his friends, about a church that they were
re-building. These guys are so inspirational. I’m not nearly
eloquent enough to portray to you all the level of despair that could
be felt in this village. But these guys had the most amazing faith.
Their mission, you could feel the difference that they were making.
They are bringing hope. They showed us pictures and told us stories
of the money they had raised to pay school fees for kids in the
village, the trips they made to the nearby dump to attempt to bring
kids to youth group and to help their parents find work. I know that
we have said this several times… but I hope we are demonstrating to
you all the amazing spirit of the people that we have been fortunate
enough to meet here. It has surely inspired us…
Finally we got to Yemamu’s house and met his parents (who look just
like him), his cat (with no name….many people here don’t name their
animals) his nephew (another spitting image) and lots of his friends.
His mom made us coffee and we took about 500 pictures. We just love
him to pieces!

Next it was off to Alex’s house. He lives very nearby (just behind the
dump that I referenced in the previous paragraph). Alex is the
“physical therapist” at the orphanages, employed part time by Gladney.
He, like Yemamu, has an amazing story of redemption through his
belief in Christianity. He was basically spending his youth on the
streets until he met a Young Life leader… which completely transformed
his entire life. Without being to redundant: we are just so in awe of
his inspirational transformation. His kindness is unbelievable! We
went to his compound where he lives with LOTS of family members. We
poured some injera with his mom (please look up on Wikipedia for an
explanation of injera) and participated in a coffee ceremony (a very
cool process where they roast the beans and everything…you could wiki
that too) and had lots of fun goofing around and playing with all the

Finally, we went to meet Misfin. He is one of Yemamu’s good friends
that we had met our first week here. We went to a cute outdoor café
for a macchiato (for those of you counting… that is 3 coffees… LOTS
of caffine for two girls who don’t drink coffee back home). But it
was a great cap off to an amazing day, a life changing day.

On Sunday, we made big plans to go on a short trip outside the city
with the boys. After a quick church service at International
Evangelical Church (made even shorter by our 30 minute truancy) we met
the boys near the center of the city, a huge taxi stop called Mexico.
We then ate a traditional Ethiopian meal…or at least watched to boys
have one. They ate raw meat, ours was cooked. Literally we sat down
20 feet from the hanging carcasses. The boys ate piece after piece,
explaining to us the true delicacy of the fat. Apparently that is the
best part. Our cooked tibs were really good too though! We ventured
on towards our destination, the Meta Brewery. It was basically a huge
outdoor area with a waterfall (disappointingly small…but apparently
gets a lot bigger in the rainy season), a park, swimming pool and huge
bar. We had such a fun day just hanging out, playing cards, telling
stories and laughing a lot. We also sat on/rode a camel, Keely and I
chewed some chat (momentarily, until one of the park guards took it
from us…you can Wikipedia chat too…if you’re interested ).

Oh, and I almost forgot, one of my greatest dreams in Ethiopia was
also realized on this day. First, an explanation: the taxis, or mini
buses, as they are called are really just blue and white 15 passenger
vans. There is one driver, and well…he drives. And then there is an
assistant who stands, usually leaning outside the sliding door window,
and yells which stops they are going to. And then once you are on
board, this assistant takes your money. Well… on the way to the
waterfalls, I got to be the assistant. Me, in all my glory with my
coral scarf blowing in the wind, shouted out the window “Sepita,
Sepita” until my one and only passenger signaled me to stop. At which
point I signaled the driver to stop, opened the door and hoped out.
And after some prompting for the boys and the actual attendant, told
the woman how much she owed and collected her money. Hilarious… and
awesome! For those interested, I will be sure and download the video
of this experience on the blog upon our return.

Another thing that has made this last week so crazy is that our dear
sweet little roomie Kelsey departed for home today. We spent lots of
time this last week making sure that we conquered all the things on
her to do list. Among them was an awesome dinner party that we had
for lots of our Ethiopian friends to say thank you for all they had
done for us. As we are all from the South (sort of right?) we decided
that Tex Mex was really the only way to go. We made a huge spread of
taco build-up complete with pico di gallo, refried beans, taco meat,
and even chips and guacamole. YUMMY!! Then after dinner, we all went
out for some good ole fashion Salsa dancing. It was so much fun.

Everyday is such an adventure here! As I write, I think of about 100
other things that I still haven’t told you about. But everyone else
has gone to bed… and I am getting tired. So, I will bid you farewell,
for now. We miss you and love you. Hope this tides you over, but
can’t wait to share stories and LOTS of pictures with you upon our
return home.

Thought of the day: WE MISS YOU KELS!!! You have only been gone for 3
hours, but the house is too quiet (except the toilet is still running
and it just started to zenab on the roof) We will miss your joy
everyday! Love ya.

Until next time,

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bob The Builder

It seems like it has been a little while since our last post, but I’m
not sure there’s too much to tell. I (Kelly) am writing this while I
sit home sick with a bad cold and sore throat. It’s pretty hard not
to go to the orphanages, but it would be worse to expose these kids to
any more germs than they already face every day. So for those of you
that have requested clarification on who is typing, this post will be
written by me (still Kelly).

Friday night was our first trip to the cinema. The popcorn is really
good, and we were pretty excited for the movie Teza. It was written
and produced by an Ethiopian who is now a professor in the States. It
was mostly in Amharic, although a few parts were in English, with
English subtitles. The movie was amazing, although really heavy. It
has a lot of information about the history of Ethiopia and the
socialist revolution, as well as racism and the effects it has. The
movie has left us wanting to know more details about the history of
Ethiopia and what this country has been through. We highly recommend
this movie for those of you that could have access to it in the

Last Saturday we had a pretty fun adventure. The morning started with
me standing in the shower for an hour with shampoo lathered in my hair
waiting for the water to come back on. It didn’t, so I finished with
about half a bottle of water because we were out of that, too. We
decided to go to the top of Entoto Mountain, where there is a museum,
old palace and a view of the entire city. Along the way, we made a
stop at Entoto Market, where apparently all the locals do their
shopping. They had some neat little booths and stores, and we must
say we made out at one earring stop where we all bought a crazy pair
of dangle earrings made from bull horn. We call them our friendship
earrings. A few other good purchases were made, including Kelsey and
Keely’s Addis Ababa fabric for pillow making once they’re home. We
then proceeded to get on a public taxi to head to the top of the
mountain. Keely was talking with the person who takes the money on
the taxi who offered her a deal of being our personal tour guides for
30 birr. Apparently, before we knew it, he kicked all the other
people out of the taxi and was driving us to top by ourselves. We
arrived at the top, got out of the taxi where they asked for their 30
birr. Not sure why, but Keely paid him the full 30 birr as she said
“you are ripping me off.” He hopped back in his taxi and left us
standing at the top of the mountain at the entrance to the compound.
We first headed into the museum where the ticket seller gave us a
little talking tour. There was nothing explaining what each item was,
so he ended up being really helpful. Someone else led us around the
rest of the compound to the church and he old palace. Although the
day was cloudy, it was beautiful and we had a great time. After
leaving the compound, however, we have never felt more out of place
here in Ethiopia. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE (there is a village
at the top of the mountain) were watching our every single move. It
was awkward and uncomfortable as we snapped a few pictures and waited
for a public taxi to pass us by and take us back down.

That night, we met up one of the Americans we had met at our first
week at Beza Church. We grabbed something to eat and bought movie
tickets for what we thought was an action or suspense movie (I can’t
remember the name of it right now…State of something I think). In
this mall with the cinema near our house is also a kid’s version of
Dave and Busters. So obviously with time to spare we had to try a few
things out. We rode on one of those things that takes you up high and
drops you, which was very exciting. We also did the bumper cars. We
have some pretty good pictures from Michael’s camera that we hope to
be able to show you soon. As we headed into the movie, I noticed that
all the previews were Disney and Pixar related. It wasn’t too long
after that we realized we were watching UP. At least it was a good

Sunday we met up with one of the women we met at the wedding so she
could take us to her church. It is a very small congregation, 20 to
30 people, with the service held in a house. The pastor is a man
named Eddie who has lived here for five years but was from Raleigh,
North Carolina. We were at the service for almost four hours and we
were all pretty exhausted by the end. There was worship and dancing
and singing and screaming and praying in tongues and a sermon in
Amharic. Each of us had someone sitting next to us that translated a
brief summary of what the guest pastor was saying, which was nice to
be able to understand some of what was being said. Because the
service was so long, we missed the brunch we are so excited about at
one of the restaurants we frequent, but we’ll plan for this week! The
sound of pancakes and waffles with syrup, omelets, muffins, juices and
more makes our mouths water.

The rest of Sunday was pretty relaxing. Keely and I did a little
internet checking and walked around the little mall here. I
discovered a really great jewelry shop and there is a very interesting
bookstore we spent some time perusing. Keely got two books that I
think she has already started reading. I don’t remember what they
were about…but I do recall her bring pretty excited about them.

This week has been a busy one with work and trying to get things
accomplished. We’ve spent a lot of time at Kebebtsehay and have
started the plans for a new project. We are going to be making three
chairs for the three older (maybe two years to six years old age
range) kids with more severe disabilities. We have them sketched out
and the measurements planned…we even busted out sine, cosine and
tangent to make sure we calculated everything exactly correct. I even
taught Keely the SOA CAH TOA rule (sin = opposite/adjacent, cos =
adjacent/hypotenuse, tan = opposite/adjacent)! Today we should be
getting most of the rest of the supplies. The frames will be made
from metal L shaped bars that have screw holes every 9-11mm. These
should allow for some growth of the kids. We’re using wood panels for
the seat and back, and then padding them with foam that is used for
sleeping mats. We’ll be taking pictures of the process and are
excited to leave something tangible behind for the kids.

Another project that is going well is the jewelry. In fact, they
should be finishing the rest of the 120 necklaces today. I’m going to
head to the office where they’re being made today at noon to take some
pictures. We’re hoping the pictures will help promote the jewelry
sales back in the states.

We were also fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the Mother
Teresa Sediskilo Home on Tuesday. This is a place for the dying and
destitute of all ages. The inside of the compound, walking through
the adult areas, was particularly difficult. The residents were
sitting around outside covered in blankets or laying in their beds
being bathed and cared for by the nuns. These people are dying, so
compared to the alternative of dying alone on the street, this is a
good place to be. There are apparently people that just stand in a
line by a back door trying to get in. They let them in as beds free
up, but free beds means someone has died in their place. The kids
room, however, was much more joyful. There is a play area with some
toys and Kelsey and Rachael did a coloring project. All the kids have
varying degrees of disabilities, but all seemed so happy. Keely and I
were able to observe and work with the physical therapist there who
was trained by some traveling Italian teachers. They have a lot of
really nice equipment here, including wheelchairs for all the kids,
standers, trikes and more. I, however, became the patient at one
point when I felt like I was going to pass out. Not sure what
happened, but after some water, an Odwalla bar and a few minutes of
laying down, I was feeling much better. We plan and hope to visit
here again soon. In fact, there is a wound clinic there on Tuesdays
and Saturdays that although Keely will not be visiting, I think
Rachael and I will. As we were leaving, we all bought bracelets made
by the residents with the Ethiopian flag colors that were being sold.
Because no pictures are allowed in the Mother Teresa compounds, these
will serve as a memory of this place. There is also another Mother
Teresa Home called Oscow, which houses people with HIV. About 450
children and adults make up the population at Oscow. Some of them are
homeless, while others families take them there to get treatment with
the intent of them returning home following the treatment regiment.
According to Rachael who volunteered at the Mother Teresa homes, Oscow
is a much more joyful and fun place. We’re interested in planning a
trip there soon.

Also hopefully on the agenda for us will be to tour some of the
hospitals here, spend some time with the Gladney doctor and see his
routine for the kids check ups, and I would love to be able to help
with the placements of kids with their adoptive families. There are
currently nine families here right now, and since families are
permitted to come every two weeks, there should be another round in
two weeks. We have scheduled our caregiver education program for June
23 and 24, and although we still have a lot to prepare, we have a
great outline with goals and objectives and are glad it is finally in
the books. The caregivers are really warming up to us now that they
are getting to know us better and see that we are here for a longer
period of time. We’ll keep you updated on the program plans as they
come together.

Tonight we’re heading to an authentic cultural dinner, complete with
dancing and music. I will likely be a spectator, considering my
dislike for the Ethiopian food I have had thus far and my even more
dislike of having any stomach sickness. The other girls are all
pretty excited about it, though!

Last but certainly not least, we are in the process of planning a
trip. We’re not quite sure where it will be yet, but we have a few
things in mind. Kelsey leaves next Sunday, the 21st, so if she’s
going to be able to come with us, we have to get things figured out
pretty quickly. We’re hoping to make a decision today.

Okay, so much for not having a lot to catch you up on. And I
apologize for the lack of humor today…my sore throat has rendered me
humorless. Consider this informative.

Thought of the day: Being sick in Ethiopia is lame.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Whistle While You Work

We have had a busy and very productive week here in Addis! We have
spent most of our time at Kebebtsehay, but also an afternoon at
Kechene and this morning at Kolfe. We’ve realized we haven’t told you
all much about the orphanages and the kiddos we’re spending at lot of
time with. Since there aren’t too many anecdotes to share from this
week (although there are some and we will get there!), we figured this
would be the perfect time.

We’ll start with Kebebtsehay. This orphanage houses kids about 12
years old and younger, and has the most little ones of the three
government orphanages. We spend a large part of our time in the
toddler and baby room here because it’s where three of the four kids
with disabilities are and because these young years are so critical
for normal development that we’re hoping to make a big difference
here. There are about 15 babies/young toddlers that are treated like
babies that are just adorable. Unfortunately, they don’t often get
too much out of crib time, so we had our first “baby group” this week.
One caregiver puts out a mattress on the floor during her shift and
gets all the babies out. This was fortunately one such day, of which
we took full advantage. We had toys and were able to engage and play
with each kiddo and allowed them time in different positions (tummy
time is a very rare commodity in their world) and practicing their
sitting and rolling skills. It was surprisingly efficient and lots of
fun…. Except for one (make that 7) little interruptions. That would
be the toddlers. They tried so hard to stay away as we worked with
the babies. But the toys looked like soooo much fun!!

There are two boys that are a bit older, fourish, Fraul and Danny who
are the ring leaders of the toddlers. They are quite the little
stinkers. So much attitude in those little boys! They are always
scheming something… and have a very bright future in pick-pocketing.
But they really all are such a joy.

One day this week we were both working 1 on 1 with a baby (a task that
is virtually impossible…because as you sit down, you basically become
a jungle gym for all the others) Anyway, we each had a baby in our
arms and suddenly we see a group of them huddled in amazement around a
mop bucket. It wasn’t a second later that the nursery was filled with
a soothing song. It was basically repetitive humming and they all
joined in jumping around and cooing. There were soap bubbles in the
bucket… and they thought it was so cool, they were singing and playing
as the cleaning lady worked to wash the windows. Sometimes they have
to work hard to play….but almost anything novel and they can create a
very fun game to amuse themselves. As we write this, we are watching
the video on the camera, the smiling faces and beautiful eyes….ahh, it
gives us chills even now. We just love these crazy kids.

We also want to tell you all a little bit about the kiddos we are
specifically working with one on one. First, Yordi. His smile can
capture your heart. He is so happy, its amazing. He is about 6 years
old, we think. He had some kind of brain injury when he was very
young, but no one can really give us any kind of details. He can sit
up…and his favorite game in the world is to sit and “blow raspberries”
and holler “ohhhh-woop!” He is blind and partially deaf, but really
responds to all the caregivers and other kids. Everybody loves Yordi.
Currently, he can sit by himself with supervision. We have lots of
goals to work to improve Yordi’s functional movement.

Little Elshaday is next. She is about 2 years old (again we
think….don’t really know) It is just really hard to tell. She is
REALLY long, but REALLY skinny. Similar to Yordi, we suspect some
kind of brain trauma…but no one really knows anything. She is a doll.
The first day we walked in and she was laying motionless looking up
at us… with a huge smile. Now, just two weeks later, we see her
holding her arms out to us when we come in and getting really excited
to see us. She is a very smart little girl. We immediately were
concerned about her breathing and ability to feed. We have been
talking with several therapists back home to get advice on
interventions to help with her oral motor skills. This week as we
were working with the babies, a group of visiting American’s came to
tour the orphanage and play with the kids. We were so fortunate that
one of the women happened to be a speech therapist. She was so
helpful and gave us great advice that we have been able to apply to
several kids. It was really a blessing!
Masqanaw….aka Baletta: We have recently learned that this hilarious
child is actually a little girl. It is quite difficult to tell the
sex of the kids without observing a diaper change because pink is a
unisex color, everyone’s hair is short, dresses are often the outer
layer of clothing for everyone. Anyway, Baletta is the kind of child
that just immediately fills you with joy. When you say that her laugh
is contagious…it really doesn’t do it justice. She sits in her crib,
rocking back and fourth and randomly dies laughing!!! And we mean this
is a full body shaking … sometimes she laughs so hard, it is silent
and she is just sitting there jiggling! She particularly enjoys
watching Keely’s signature fist pumping dance moves. She can sit up
in her crib unsupported, but gets very little stimulation or even time
out of bed. We have lots of ideas on improving her core strength and
seeing what she can do.

Finally is a little new comer that we are very worried about. Her
name, Addisa, actually means “new”. (like Addis Ababa means “new
flower”) We think she is about 4-5 months old. We have major concerns
about her hearing and vision. Both are obviously impaired, but we
don’t know to what extent. She is so sensory sensitive that any
tactile stimulation on her back increases her tone to such a degree
that she screams in discomfort. And often we have observed seizures,
especially when she gets scared or upset. To add to the concerns, she
also has pretty significant feeding issues as well and currently can
not suck on a bottle. Right now we are really trying to focus on
calming and decreasing her sensitivity to all stimulation so that she
can sleep and hopefully adjust to this new environment. We are doing
a lot of oral simulation to help with feeding. But she is sweet when
her body finally gives her a second to relax. She loves to fall
asleep laying on her belly over your arm with her little head resting
on your hand.
There are lots of babies that are a little behind developmentally that
we are working with a lot too. One especially is a little girl named
Ruth. We both noticed her the first day that we walked in. She was
basically emotionless… pretty much the only kid there who couldn’t
have cared less about us. She was scooting around on her bottom a
little… but mostly just observing the room. We both have worked to
gain this wise little girls trust and help facilitate some more
efficient movement patterns. We are so excited about her improved
emotional response to everything. Now we get a big grin when we walk
in…and maybe if we are lucky, a little yell from across the room. She
is soooo fun to cuddle with!

I (this is Kelly typing now) had a bittersweet day this week at
Kebebtsehay. As you may recall, I fell in love with a little girl
named Tedala on our very first day at the orphanage. Keely likes to
say she has me wrapped around her finger Although I love love love
all the children, she really touched me specifically for some reason.
Well, I was holding her on Monday and an Ethiopian gentleman came in
the room. His English was good enough to tell me that he had come to
Kebebtsehay to adopt one little kiddo, but was ending up with two one
he saw how absolutely beautiful this little girl was. And she really
is SO beautiful. She has little tiny features and two huge front
teeth and is absolutely a doll. She loves affection and to be held.
So after some questions to Yemamu, it was clarified that she was
indeed being adopted! It happened so fast…he was there on Monday and
Tedala was gone on Tuesday. I spoiled her a little more than usual on
her last and even woke her up from her nap Monday afternoon to say
goodbye (a big no-no usually in the orphanages…sleeping kids = less
work for the caregivers). I am so excited for her and want only the
best, but can’t help knowing that I will miss her for this next month
and will wonder about her for years to come.

We finally got the wheels turning on the Kechene jewelry making!
We’re planning a meeting with the girls on Monday to see who is
interested, and are even hoping to teach them how to make purses,
tablecloths and placemats. Look for finely crafted Kechene products
coming to the U.S. once we’re back.

Today, Friday, Keely, Keely and I went to visit Kolfe, the older boys
government orphanage. After almost an hour and a half on four
different taxis (we’ve had some taxi trouble the last few days…flat
tire, stalled taxi, our taxi today hit a person, chaut chewers (a
moderately illegal stimulant) yada yada), we finally arrived. We had
a few big plans after our tour which may have consisted of some
Frisbee and teaching the boys four square. Little did we know it
wasn’t quite the mood for such games today. After our tour of the
facilities, which admittedly have very few resources, we found
ourselves in the middle of an emotional Amharic conversation where
many of the boys were discussing their frustrations about the limited
attention and resources they receive as compared to the Kechene girls
home (from the very basic translation of about an hour long
conversation we received afterwards). Needless to say, we didn’t play
any games. We did, however, get some great ideas. We’ll enlighten
you with one…we think, and it has apparently already been in the works
at one point, it would be amazing to get these boys some business
training and some resources to start a business that would allow them
to sustain as a home and provide for them long term, as opposed to a
band-aid fix of monetary donations. We’d love to chat with some of
our business friends and perhaps even some business schools about the
possibility of this training program.

As for our personal lives, the really funny stories have revolved
around our taxi services (see above paragraph for a quick synopsis).
We did, however, lose water for a day and a half because of damage to
the water line while our street is under construction. Now, a day and
a half doesn’t seem like a long time as I type this, but it is when
your toilet requires water (a substantial amount, actually!) to flush
(especially troublesome for those battling a case of travelers
diarrhea), and you may or may not have taken a shower in a few days.
Fortunately, it wasn’t too long and things are up and running as usual
in our house.

Last night was “date night” for the four of us! We went to a nice
restaurant that seconds as an art gallery with some really beautiful
original paintings. Kelly may or may not being trying to figure out
how she would get one of said paintings home. The food was, by far
and unanimously, the best we’ve has since being here in Ethiopia.
They have a little bit of everything…Italian, steaks, fish…and
everything we had was great. They even have a spinach salad! We
haven’t seen spinach here up until that point, so some dark green
vegetables were looking very appealing. Needless to say, Makush will
be visiting frequently for our newly established weekly “date nghts.”

Okay our friends, we think it is about time to wrap things up on our
end. Tonight we are going to see an Amharic movie at the cinema (with
English subtitles, of course) called Teza. It’s directed by an
Ethiopian who is a professor in the states and we think it’s about
socialism. It is supposed to be one of the best Ethiopian made films
ever, so we’re pretty excited. We’re also heading to Entoto Mountain
this weekend, so this little day trip may provide some interesting
stories for our next post. Until then….

Thought of the day: Today during the discussion with the boys of
Kolfe, a white van pulled in. One of the boys turned to us and in
English, said “that’s my mom and dad.” We weren’t quite sure what
this meant, so we turned to Yemamu and asked. He said “it’s the
government.” It was a very poignant moment and way for this teenager
to express his reality. This was a very powerful moment for all three
of us to understand his life.