Monday May 31, 2010
Here’s a riddle:
How many Ethiopians does it take to complete a credit card transaction?
The answer: It takes three to watch the foreigner do it herself, after the others had all made their attempts.
To add to the craziness that was last week was a whirlwind of a weekend. I went down to Nazret a smaller city about an hour south of Addis. It actually reminded me of a mini Addis, the same old world meets new, without the big city hustle. All of Ethiopia is really a clash of the past and future, of culture and international; and no more so than in Nazareth where you can literally watch a horse and buggy alongside a Mercedes, waiting for the light to turn green.
While most of the weekend was devoted to a little R&R at the hot springs and swimming pool, there was a little work involved too, although I was mostly an observer to that as well. Ten boys from the Kolffe orphanage took their “aging out” money and started a farm. With the support of Gladney, they now fatten oxen to sell, in addition to growing and bringing to market a variety of vegetables and herbs. An irrigation system was developed and implemented as well. It is an impressive operation. Especially if you consider the boys (who are really men) bunk together in a large brink barn-like structure, sharing space with the seed and grains, and fend for themselves in all other ways. They even make their own injera.
Today I visited the three government orphanages in Addis. It’s hard to express how such a sad place can really be filled with so much happiness. The orphanages are bare to the bone, and even with an incredible amount of assistance, still survive only on meager means. The need in this country is so widespread and vast, there will never be enough. Yet, children will always be children. They will be mischievous, joyful, playful, imaginative and all other wonderful things. In fact, that is what always strikes me most about children, especially those in hard and desperate situations; they still have a sense of pure wonder. Wonder. That is what is lost as we grow-up and who knows when, but somewhere along the way we start seeing dirt, rust, an old tire and a hundred ways to get hurt and stop asking to be pushed higher on some semblance of a swing.