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,


  1. hello keelsta and kel -
    so yes this is my first post, and i am the first to post on this blog... big day for me! everything continues to sounds so awesome and amazing. i know for me each time i am able to sneak away to imagine the greatness of your current adventures. hope you are feeling better kelly, maybe you should try some of that chat... keely elizabeth! xo court

  2. Keels...did you really have build your own over in Ethiopia?! Thats freaking awesome cuz!!!! Makes me hungry for it just thinking about It sounds like you guys continue to have a great time, for which I am so glad that you are!!! Its hot hot hot over here in the US!!! No rain where we are...could use some of Miss you guys bunches!!! Keep up the good work!!!

  3. I really laugh thinking about the tall blonde hanging out the window of the taxi and yelling Sepita. I am sure the Ethiopians were in awe or hysterics! Glad that you are finding fun as well as rewarding work. I loved hearing about the greetings from the children of the town. I can almost feel the love myself. Makes me want to be there. All of you get and stay well.
    Love you more,

  4. KEO,
    There are lots of short stories to be written here. I'll help you. As I always say, you are doing some amazing things there. The pictures alone are staggering, i.e., you can see the children's fondness for you in the way they clutch your arms and the close proximity they keep. Beautiful pictures. Glad you're having fun and staying safe. By the way... chat, huh? Welcome to the world of illicit drugs. I wanted to put a Wikipedia quote here, but Mom might worry. But we'll just call it part of the cultural experience. Western idologies be damned. I have nothing to say about my own life that equals what you are doing, so I'll just save it. I love you. Keep having fun.


  5. Great pictures and great stories. What an awesome experience. The kids/kidoos are soooooo cute. I just wish my daughter was that cute. JUST KIDDING!!!!

    May God bless you and keep you safe!

  6. I miss you girls so much... literally my life is not the same without you. Glad to see I made the thought of the day :) I miss everything so much... especially my boys. Let them know how much I truly miss them. Cherish every second of the time you have left. Can't wait to hear about it all.
    Praying for you everyday and thinking about you and our kiddos every second! All the love in the world from Florida all the way to Ethiopia

  7. I am amazed! But do understand!!! So much of your experience reminds me of life in the Philippines. I can TOTALLY see you serving as the taxi attendant...blonde curls blowing in the wind...hanging on with one hand, right? And Taco Build-up...way to go! You make Grandma O proud! P.S. Be sure you negotiate royalty cuts with Josh BEFORE you get to the publishing stage! Love you! Take care and continue sharing love and grace to all you meet. helen

  8. Hello from GREECE!!!
    Could you visit my blog, in order that the flag of your country, will be added to the index of my visitors?
    Thank you in advanced.