Saturday, April 30, 2011

Children's Heaven

We were lucky enough to visit Children's Heaven, a place where orphaned girls, losing one or both parents to AIDS, receive support. The goal is for the girls to obtain and strengthen their level of self confidence and independence, in an effort to promote self worth and living a healthy lifestyle. On Saturdays they have a program and lunch, which we were so privileged to experience. I encourage you to read more about this truly amazing place!

The incredible Heye family

The Heye family are from Oregon, and a year ago they moved to Addis where Kimberly teaches. They  will continue to live in Addis for another year. They are very involved with EOR and especially Children's Heaven while they are in Addis Ababa.

The rain couldn't stop him from enjoying the afternoon

Although the rain made for a wet and chilly afternoon, this didn't stop the girls from enjoying their afternoon to the fullest! It was wonderful to watch the children continue their singing and playing games, with smiles all around! So many beautiful and happy faces!

As stated on their website "Children's Heaven strive to help meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the 100 girls that are benefiting daily from this amazing program. In 2009, EOR provided a long term rental home where the girls are currently meeting. In 2010 EOR raised $20,000 for this project jump starting a feeding program that ensures these girls get 1 nutritious meal per day. EOR also helped finance a library for their use. Future projects including helping them find, purchase and move to a permanent home."

The happiness and energy that was felt was indescribable. What a magical afternoon!

“Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live.”

This girl captured my heart, she loved getting her picture taken!

Pictures can't adequately express the feeling that afternoon, despite the rain there was so much joy and happiness surrounding us. These girls have many obstacles in yet they continue to push forward with optimism and gratitude for the day that has been given to them.

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”
~ Unknown Author

Friday, April 29, 2011

Experiencing the Merkato

We had been looking for traditional dresses for Vivi for a couple of weeks without success. In the garment district of Addis the vendors wanted to charge triple the price, "white tax", as Baby calls it. So we decided we must got to the Merkato to pick out the fabric, and then have them handmade by Genat's (Baby's mom) friend and tailor.

The Merkato is not only the biggest outdoor market in Africa, but also listed in every guidebook as one of those "if you go prepared to be pick-pocketed" kind of places. It was a bit intimidating to think about but we were up for the adventure. It has also been said, and basically proven, that you can find anything you need at this market...from produce and spices to furniture and fixtures to car parts to livestock to clothing, and everything in between.

The market itself is very large, covering several square miles. There were roads large enough for two way traffic, alleys and some roads that could barely fit a car.

It was an indescribable experience..the people, the smells, the feeling of just walking through this busy market. Looking back, the anxiety was unfounded as long as you were aware of your surroundings and had a good guide. So much so that we went another day for further shopping.

“If you wait to do everything until you're sure it's right, you'll probably never do much of anything.”
 Win Borden

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Local hospitality

Over the last six weeks we have spent much of that time with our driver, and very dear friend, Baby! He  has truly taken care of us. Not only has he been our guide, watching out for our safety, enjoying our adventures in Ethiopia with us, and making sure we get as little "white tax" as possible while shopping, he truly treats us as if we were his family. He is excited about Our Journey of Love and our family being complete now with Mawerdi in the picture. When we were invited to come to his mother's house for a tradition dinner we were so honored and excited. What an amazing afternoon!

Baby's mom, Genet, made us honey wine (on the lighter side for us) and it was delicious. She was a wonderful hostess! Genet is one of those women you meet and immediately feel a connection, she has that genuine and sweet spirit. She is from Harar, which is close to Dire Dawa, so she had a special place in her heart for Mawerdi. Her granddaughter (in the above picture) is wearing the traditional Harar outfit with the shells, she was adorable! Although we speak only a little of Amharic, and she speaks only a little of English, we felt comfortable in her home and enjoyed talking with her.

Baby's sister provided a traditional coffee ceremony, which was delicious. We loved the smell of Frankincence lofting in the air while the beans were roasting! We honestly believe that Ethiopia has the best coffee that we have ever had, and the presentation simply makes the experience amazing! Although we have only know these wonderful people for over a month, they feel like family. We are grateful to meet such genuine people, as well as to experience a true local Ethiopian feast!

“How far we travel in life matters far less than those we meet along the way.” 
~Unknown Author

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Embassy paperwork submitted

Today our embassy paperwork will be submitted! We have been waiting over the last two weeks for one document to be delivered. So we were at lunch and got a call to immediately come to our lawyers office. So we rushed back to the guest house to get the paperwork, then rushed back across town to the lawyers office, in record breaking time. Then our lawyer stated that we had to take this paperwork to the embassy "now, now, now" so we quickly hoped in the van and rushed back (yes, again) across town to the US Embassy. Our hearts were pounding, if we didn't get this paperwork notarized in time we would have to wait another week to submit the paperwork. Luckily we got there and everyone was so helpful. We got everything notarized, rushed it back to the lawyers office, and finally took a deep sigh of relief. Another step has been completed. We are hoping to get an appointment next week but it could take up to three weeks. We continue to love being in this amazing country, but we do miss our family and friends.

In times of stress, be bold and valiant.”
 ~ Horace 

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Melkam Fasika! We celebrated Fasika, Easter, for the first time as a family! The celebration lasted all weekend. First we went to the largest Orthodox church in Addis, where people were praying and listening to services all day long. It was a peaceful and beautiful thing to see, so many people devoted to their beliefs. Most everyone were dressed in their traditional attire, with all the women dressed in white dresses with colored accents.

Then on saturday night we went to the Holy Trinity Church to see the night service. People pray and listen to the chants, prayers and service until 3am. It was beautiful to see the stain glass windows lit up at night, with the priests and people walking into the church and peacefully sitting around nearby. It was a moment we will never forget. As we were walking around the church it began to start pouring, this didn't stop the people who remain sitting outside praying. It was beautiful to see the people praying while holding their lit candles. Words can't honestly describe the vibe in the air.

For the actual day of Fasika we had a traditional Ethiopian breakfast and lunch at the guest house. Then one of our favorite staff provided a coffee ceremony. We will truly miss the coffee and these wonderful people who have become friends. It was a wonderful first Easter together!

“So our daily worship of God is not really the process of gradual acquisition of him, but the daily process of surrendering ourselves, removing all obstacles to union and extending our consciousness of him in devotion and service, in goodness and in l”
 ~ Rabindranath Tagore 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Awash National Park

Awash National Park is northeast of Addis, about three hours, and the closest we would get to the town where our daughter was born, Dire Dawa. It was a beautiful drive and we enjoyed seeing the volcanic landscape. We even saw a few camels! We passed the beautiful Lake Basaka before eating lunch.

Since the nearby tribes are still experiencing conflict we were also provided a guide in the park, who was also fabulous is helping to spot the animals. This park is the most visited park, despite some of the animals no longer inhabiting the park such as the giraffe. However, the park still has lions, cheetahs, monkeys, baboons, and oynx just to name a few. Since it was a hot day, most of the animals come out at night and therefore our animal "viewing" was limited. However, we still enjoyed the this beautiful park and spotted some amazing birds. They have over 450 different types of birds at this park!

Although it was a cloudy day, and usually most hotter, it was still very hot. The Rift Valley was beautiful to see, it was so green and lush. We couldn't help but think that Dire Dawa was just over those mountains.

We stopped at the lodge within the park, built by Selassie. It was a nice place to get a cold drink and the people of course where so inviting and kind.

At the end of our tour of the park we stopped to see the Awash Falls, which is a stunning waterfall fed by the Awash River. There are hippos and Crocodiles in the nearby river although we didn't see any. It was a wonderful way to end our day trip. Again, there are so many beautiful places to see in Ethiopia!

“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature's most beautiful gift.”
 ~ Albert Einstein 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Zoo & The Sheraton

For our sunday afternoon trip we went to the Addis Zoo. Although it was sad to see the animals in such small cages, we felt it was important to see this site and to help put money back in the Zoo. Since the cages were smaller than at home we did get to see the Lions up close and they were beautiful and VERY lazy! They are descendants of Selassie's lions and there was even one with a black mane! Since it was sunday many of the locals were also at the Zoo, so it was nice to feel like we were having a family outing as if we lived in Addis.

Afterwards we went to the Sheraton to see their beautiful gardens and fountains. We went with mixed emotions. We wanted to see the beautiful grounds but we couldn't help but feel a bit upset to see this huge beautiful rich hotel amongst such poverty. People struggle on a daily basis right next door to a hotel where people pay almost $400 a night. We still appreciated the experience and Mawerdi enjoyed seeing the fountains, she loves seeing water, while we enjoyed seeing the gardens. It was a quick trip and we were glad we went well.

“Be happy. It's one way of being wise.”
~ Sidonie Gabrielle

Friday, April 15, 2011

Red Terror Museum

This will surely be our most depressing post. We felt it was necessary to go to the Red Terror Museum, as heart wrenching as this would be, to learn about the time of the Derg. This was during Mengistu's communist rule in Ethiopia, during the time of the drought, famine, and uprising. We talked with people who remember this time, it was a very dark time.

Imperial Body Guard Attire

Selassie's cape 

Blood and organs from the Pro-Derg Political Organizaation

Mengistu overthrew Selassie in 1974, creating a communist state, and genocide ensued for anyone who objected to the Derg or Mengistu's plans for Ethiopia. There were hundreds of thousands of victims by Mengistu's hand, actively by violence and or passively by famine, devastating Ethiopia. During this era was the devastating famine that killed 1 million Ethiopians and affected 8 million. Finally, after a 12 year trial in Ethiopia's Federal High Court, Mengistu was found guilty of genocide. Unfortunately he remains in Zimbabwe, safe from extradition.

Clothes of the innocent victims

We felt uncomfortable taking pictures of what we were learning and seeing, but our guide stated that we must take pictures and share them with others.."you are the witness of this history and must repeat it."

“Communism means barbarism”
 ~ James Russell Lowell