We got off to an early start today since it was going to be a busy day. Emily and I sorted out the bags to target 3 different orphanages: Kibebe Tsehay (infants to 7 year olds), Kolfe (boys 8-21), and Kechene (girls 8-21). Most of the aid that we brought targeted KibebeTsehay... about 11 bags worth of clothes, shoes, school materials, diapers, wipes, etc...... (After our visits with the orphanages, we learned that due to adoptions being down, all of the donations have basically stopped so although it felt like we were supplying a lot, we were barely making a dent.)
We loaded the van up and started the day at Kibebe. That is a very tough way to start the day. Pictures are not allowed anymore. The amazing thing about this place is that it is 10x better than when we visited in 2008. When we went back then, it was simply heart breaking. 40 cribs to a room. 1-2 babies per crib (half the size of our cribs). Only 3-4 caregivers to feed, change and take care of all the babies. I'm happy to say that the conditions have improved, but the 100lbs of diapers that Emily brought them 2 weeks ago were long gone. Most of the kids had rags stuffed in their pants and the majority were all wet. Tough way to start the day... The orphanage director was very happy with the aid that we brought but it is hard to realize how tough the kids' lives will be for the next several years minimum.
There was one boy who we think was autistic that was fascinated with my forearm hair. He kept brushing it with his fingers so I pulled up my pant legs and he started petting my legs. He then went to Emily and was petting her arms (not quite as hairy-fortunately), then he bent down and lifted her pant legs to see her leg hair. (Also, fortunate they were not as hairy as mine.)
We then went on to Kofle, the older boy's orphanage. We have been there every visit, making this our fourth time there. It is sad to see some of the same boys still there and we just pray that when they grow out of the orphanage, they find their way. We brought a soccer ball since they have a dirt field next to their bunkhouses. We all played soccer, getting incredibly dusty. Every time we have visited we have played soccer, but we have learned that we need to bring the ball. The balls only last so long when that's their only real entertainment. Hopefully the ball we left them will last them awhile. Unfortunately they said that we were the first visitors in a really long time. It was quite evident in their wanting to visit with new people.
One of the realities of the international adoptions slowing in Ethiopia is that there are much less foreigners coming to bring aid and to help support NGOs within Ethiopia. Every agency has had to cut staffing and support significantly and this effects kids all across the country whether they are destined to be be adopted or not.
Following lunch, we went to Adera which we had never visited before. They have a really great program that kind of works like a free daycare for working moms. The moms have to qualify for assistance and they can drop off their kids (ages 1-5) from 8:30-4:30. The kids are given breakfast and have a preschool curriculum in the morning. This is followed by lunch and naptime. The kids are also given a daily bath, something they would not likely get at home. It's a safe haven for the kids to be while their moms are off at work. Some of the women also make these really cool necklaces out of paper which they sell to make money. Their website is http://aderafoundation.org This is a foundation that we will be supporting. Click on their link and check them out. I know several of the board members personally and I believe that they have a wonderful vision of empowerment (for Ethiopian women) and sustainability (creating revenue generating businesses to support the foundation and locals). The girls and Emily all picked out several necklaces.
We got there while the kids were napping but stayed till they all woke up. Our kids really had fun playing with the kids there until they were picked up by their moms.
We returned to the guest house and pleaded with the kids to take naps and got a 50% success rate. We went to an Ethiopian Cultural dinner that featured dancing and live music from all the different regions. The kids loved it for the first 90 min and then started crashing hard (it was about 9pm). -- they should have listened to us to take naps!!! Tomorrow will not be as busy.
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