Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day 5: Kind Hearts and Kechene

What a day it has been!!

I had my alarm set for 7:30, but woke up around 6:15.  The sun is so bright in my room by then, and of course the loud Muslim call to worship - or whatever it is - is a nice wake up call, too.  I looked over at my phone - which I leave on all night with the white noise app running - and realized we had no power.  My phone was almost completely drained.  NOT COOL.  Sophie had mentioned the day before that she was almost out of electricity and it is pre-paid here, but she thought we had enough to get through the night/day.  Nope.  It wasn't a big deal for anything other than having my phone dead AND my camera STILL not charged.  Bleh!!  Wish I would have done that last night!

We sent the guard out early to go pay for more electricity, and I quickly started reading up on my fancy little solar powered charger thing I got off groupon a month or so ago...

Sophie and I walked down the street to a little bakery for some rolls to make pb&j on for breakfast.  Sophie is a BIG fan of them now!  She's never had grape jelly!!  She also got 4 doughnuts for the guards/driver/maid.  So, 4 doughnuts and two rolls cost...10 birr.  That's not even $1 (17 birr is one dollar).  It's so crazy how cheap everything is.  I know I've already said that, but really, it's crazy!

No shower this morning, which was fine.  I didn't think there would be hot water without electricity, and I try to avoid cold showers at all cost.  I just can't do it unless it's dire - and it's not yet!  I washed my face and rinsed off a little with a wash clothe, and that was good enough for me!

We took off around 8:45 with Alex to get Sophie to work by 9.  Normally that would be plenty of time, but today, again, is a holiday.  They have a LOT of holidays here!  Today is the 21st on the Ethiopian calender.  They have there own different calendar that has 30 days in each month, and 13 months or something like that.  So anyways, today is the 21st, and on the 21st of each month, they celebrate Mary with a big special ceremony.  So the streets were crazy busy and packed with everyone trying to get to the churches.  Luckily, we pulled up to Sophie's office right at 9 on the dot.

Dropped her off and then Alex and I took off to pick up "Al."  It is a looong drive to get just about anywhere in this big city, so I rolled the windows down and told Alex to crank some Ethiopian tunes, and we had a good 'ole time rocking out!  He kept laughing - I don't know if he was laughing AT me or just because he was having fun! ;)

On the way, we happened to drive by Adam's Pavillion, which I recognized because it is across the street from the church I went to Sunday, and it is the shopping area where Sophie and I went yesterday to look at the cool shoe company.  Dang it - I still can't remember what it's called, but the soles of the shoes are made out of tires, and they're super cool.  (Sole Rebels.)  It was around 9:30 by that point, so I literally hollered at Alex when I saw it to pull in for a little shopping stop!  He was cool with it, and came in with me.  I ended up getting one pair!  They're like little flats, with black rubber soles (from a tire) and multi color striped cloth tops.  Super cute! :)

We kept driving for awhile longer to get Al in his area of town, and then kept driving for a loooong time to get to Kind Hearts.  Apparently it isn't actually in Addis, it is in like a suburb kind of thing I guess, just outside of town.  I only know that because there were big like drop down gate kind of things on the side of the road, like on I-70 where the close roads for snow - and when I asked what they were for, they said it was because we were leaving Addis.

Oh - and most of the time we were driving today, I had my arm out the window holding my little solar power thing.  It said it had to have direct sunlight to charge, so that's what I was trying to do - angling my arm different ways when we turned.  Which was a lot.  The roads here are so windy and make absolutely no sense to me.  Ever.  At all.  Definitely got some weird looks from just about everyone who saw me.  White girl with her arm out the window holding a little contraption, and occasionally sticking my head out see where exactly the sun was, ha. :)

There weren't too many kids outside playing when we finally pulled up to the old tin gate at Kind Hearts.  Some were in the classrooms, and some were on break in the yard.  I don't think any of them knew they were going to have visitors today, so no one knew what was going on.  I got out (stuck the solar power thing on the roof of the car) and walked up to some kids.  When they realized there was a visitor there, I was instantly bombarded with a ton of kids, running at me, all trying to shake my hand and say hi!  Oh I just love these kids here...

Of course my eyes were peeled for Beza.  I mean, I was nice to the other kids, but I really wanted to find her!  When I saw her and she saw me, she was actually a little taken back and shy for a minute, but she eventually ran and jumped in to my arms.  Literally. :)  The pic is pretty cute!

We all played around for awhile, and I was actually thankful that only about half of the kids were there that day...which did NOT include Yitbarek! :(  I was thankful they weren't all there because I couldn't have handled that many!  I mean, I didn't really "handle" all of the ones who were there, but it was at least a little more manageable!  I didn't get a straight answer on Yitbarek's absence really.  Not sure if he is still attending there regularly or not.  The language barrier is tricky sometimes.  They said his grandma was not helping him get there or something like that?  I don't really know what that means, but was a little disappointed I couldn't give him his stuff Matt sent for him!

My sweet Bezawit!

We (and by we I mean, the teachers) rounded up all the kids and got them lined up.  I started passing out the orange backpacks, and man were they were excited!!  I showed them each what it was/how it worked, and then showed them the craft project, and let them go to town.  The teachers (and Alex and Al) all grabbed a marker and started writing names for the kids.

(I have so many pictures of this, and the individual kids with their bags/names, it's ridiculous...)

Once everyone had a bag with their name on it, they sat in big circles and worked on the Jesus Loves me pin project.  Most of them needed help, so all the adults went around and helped out as much as we could.  It all went fairly smoothly I think, and it was really cool to see how happy they all were!

Eventually got them all together - as best we could - for a group picture!

I talked to Beza just a little more, she gave me a hand written note (that I couldn't read in front of her for fear of me crying) and then had to say goodbye.  We took off for Kechene.

(Al said we couldn't go back to Korah today to see the kids eating lunch, because they weren't doing it today.  Again, the language barrier.  Do they just feed them some days and not others?  Are all the kids sponsored?  I just didn't really get it, but for some reason, I don't think they were feeding the kids today.)  

So, off to Kechene we went.  Kechene was, again, a long ways away from where we were, and has to be one of the poorest areas in Addis.  I mean, it's almost on the same level as Korah without actually living in the trash dump.  

Along the way, not far from Kind Hearts, I was just watching the people on the side of the road, and I saw a little boy.  He was running his hand along a car parked on the road, and right as we passed, he turned his head and I swear - seriously - I swear it was Yitbarek!  He was holding hands with an older man, and I really think I would recognize that face anywhere!  Traffic was a mess and we couldn't just stop right there, but I really wish I would have just yelled out his name to see if he looked.  It sounds wild, I know, but it just had to be him.  Or his twin, maybe. :)

Anyways, we drove forever and ever, and Al couldn't find Kechene, ha.  We had to call one of the guys working there to have him come down to the main road and hop in with us to take us there.  It's not even really roads there.  More like little rock paths, that poor Alex was not pumped about navigating it in his nice car!

We eventually pulled up to the old rusty gate I remember, and I saw a couple of heads peeking through! :)  It was lunch time there, so the kids were washing up to eat and then coming in to sit down and wait for food.  Kechene is a school for younger kids, but also a feeding center for public school kids.  Public schools here don't offer lunch, so they come there to eat.  It was pretty impressive to see how they all patiently sat there with their little hands folded waiting to be served.  The process is interesting.  The cooks actually pass the injera and sauce on plates up through the window in to the classroom, and then the teachers deliver it to the kids at the desks.  They let me pass them all out, so that was pretty cool!  The kids all said thank you so nicely! :)

After lunch, we got out the stack of orange back-packs and handed them out to the kids.  They were so, so, SO excited!  These kids have to be some of the poorest in/around Addis.  Well, next to Korah, I think.  They were seriously PUMPED to have new bags, and seemed to like the "Jesus Loves Me" craft, too.  We got names written on all the bags, and then I got attacked for a picture.  It was too fun.  Just wish Matt could have been here to experience this, too.  The bags are half from him, after all!  It truly has been one of the cooler things I've been a part of.

We didn't hang around Kechene too long.  Dropped "Al" off so he could go home or to work or whatever, and then Alex and I went to the German Beer Garden for a quick stop so I could sit in the lobby and skype with Matt.  Kind of missing him. :)

Next stop was the Live FashionAble scarf company!  Kiely told me I could stop by to see the factory where the women make the scarves - and of course to buy some!  The 'factory' is two little buildings.  They are $30-$40 if you buy them in the US, and only $10 there!  So, yea, I bought a few.  Or a lot.  Like 10.  I can't help it.  I love scarves, and this is a good cause.  They're helping these women get off the streets, get an income, and support their families.  It really was cool to see how they are all made, and see the women actually working on them!  I don't think they know just how popular their scarves are becoming in the US.  I mean, the chick on The Bachelorette wore one a week or so ago, and it's sold out now!  Really glad I got to see all of that - and ended up with some new acceseories! :)

I promised Alex if he sat and waited on me to do that, that I would take him to lunch.  Poor guy - it was 3:30 and we hadn't eaten yet!  So, we went back to Lime Tree.  It's one of the few places I know was good food!  Usually he sits in the car and waits for us to eat, but I made him come in and sit with me.  I think he thought it was kind of weird, ha, but I enjoyed his company!  We both had a delicious hibiscus juice or something like that.  It was seriously good.  We also ordered "meat" lasagna.  Not sure what kind of meat it was, but it was pretty good.  Just hoping it doesn't make me sick!

We got back to Sophie's around 4:30, and I showered.  The shower wasn't really working right - the water was just trickling out and it was barely warm - but I'm not going to complain!  Not sure what was up with it though.  Still felt great to cool off and clean up after being outside surrounded by kids all day.

Sophie got home around 5:30, and we chatted about her day at work.  She really is enjoying her new job.  Well, not the job so much yet I guess, but the people are young and fun, so she's pretty excited about that!

We had stopped at a fruit market yesterday, so Sophie made a big fruit salad for dinner that night.

Kiely, Matt, Alyssa, and Tyler showed up around 7 for dinner.  After a quick tour of the place, we called in some Thai food and sent Alex off to get it.  The food was delicious - we all really enjoyed it.  I have to admit, it was really pretty weird to be sitting in Ethiopia having Thai food with a bunch of Americans!

We all sat around and talked for hours.  They didn't leave until after 10pm, and I'm so exhausted right now - and not feeling too well.  I'm not sure if it was the Thai or the meat lasagna, but I'm taking a cipro to head it off.  Hopefully nothing gets worse - I have to travel tomorrow!

 Alex is coming at 8am tomorrow to take me to the airport for my flight to Uganda!  Updates might get a lot more messy there. Not sure what the Internet situation is there, but I'll update when I can! :)  That's all for now!


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