May 19, 2010

Sunday, April 25th – Trip to Hossana

We got up at 5:00 in the morning to board the bus at 6:00 for the trip to Hossana.  Hossana is the town where our kids were originally taken into care at the Mussie Orphanage.  We were going to Hossana to meet birth parents or other significant people from our kids’ past.  The trip was beyond words. 

As we left Addis, we started to see mountains and trees and beautiful scenery.  The road was paved but not by State of Illinois standards.  My dad, a retired highway engineer, would have been scratching his head.  The ride was very bumpy. 


Who needs orange cones when you can just put large rocks in the road to indicate a lane closure. 


We passed many huts.  There were no “houses" by Western standards.  Many homes were made of sticks.  There were people everywhere…walking.  Some with goats, cows, or donkeys.  The animals would just be walking in the middle of the road.  There was a lot of honking by our driver.  Many of the livestock was being herded by children…as young as four or five years old. 

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We also passed many women walking with five gallon jugs strapped to their backs going to get water out of whatever source they could find.  Generally, the water source was a muddy creek.  The water was the color of butterscotch pudding.  This is the water they use for cooking, drinking, bathing, and laundry.  We also saw people using these creeks as a toilet.  It was absolutely heart breaking to see this.  There are no bathrooms in the countryside.  People just squat wherever they wanted to go to the bathroom.  We take for granted that we can walk to the kitchen faucet, turn on the water, and get a drink.  Just imagine having to walk several miles to get a jug of dirty water.  Imagine not being able to go to the bathroom in privacy. 


We saw a lot of children who had shirts on, but no bottoms at all.  Many children didn’t have shoes.  The strange thing though, was every child we saw looked so happy.  They would wave at the bus and smile great big.  We never did see a single toy or ball, but they found ways to have fun. 

At one point, we saw a large group of people walking on the road.  As we got closer to them, we could see that they had a man up on makeshift gurney (two sticks with a piece of material).  The man must have been sick and they were walking to get him medical help. 

We stopped about two hours into our trip for a bathroom break at a hotel.  We all walked up a few flights of stairs to a room with many stalls and a few urinals.  Men and women all went into the same bathroom.  There was an attendant in there who would lock the door for you from the outside of the stall.  It was also BYOT (as much of Ethiopia is) – bring your own toilet paper.  Luckily, we had all been warned so we were prepared. 


After a short break, we continued on to Hossana.  There were people everywhere and many children.  The children were begging for money as soon as we pulled into town.  We went through a gate at the Mussie Administrative Center.  Everyone got off the bus and went into a small room with chairs lined up around the perimeter of it. 

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I am leaving out some of the details of our visit here.  We feel that Noah should be the one to share his story when he decides that he wants to.  We did meet a significant person from his infancy. 

After each couple had met with their child’s family member or significant person, we all gathered back into the small room.  On one side of the room, all the adoptive parents lined up side-by-side.  On the other, all the family members/significant people lined up as well.  The social worker lit a candle in the middle of the room on a small table.  Each person from the family members/significant person side of the room would light a candle, then they would pass it to the adoptive parents to signify the transfer of responsibility.  It was an “entrustment” ceremony.  Once the candles had been passed, there was a prayer said in Amharic by the family members/significant person, then a prayer said in English by the adoptive parents.  It was a very moving ceremony and not something we will soon forget.  After the prayer, we each said had a tearful goodbye and the family members/significant people left the room. 

After they left, the coffee ceremony was held.  In America, we have coffee and donuts or coffee and cookies or cake or something sweet.  In Ethiopia, they have coffee and popcorn.  I despise coffee so I was a little worried about wanting to be respectful, but also not wanting to drink it either!  One of my travel mates downed her coffee, then we switched cups and she drank mine.  Problem solved.  It looked like I had drank mine. 


When everyone had finished their coffee, we loaded up on the bus again and drove to the Childrens’ Home Academy.  Our agency does so much more in Ethiopia than just adoptions.  They have built a school in Hossana where children can come to learn academics, but also life skills.  They not only teach the children, they also teach the parents.  The school has a large garden that they planted.  They teach the parents how to grow produce so that they can go back to their homes and do the same for their families. 

The bus was not able to drive all the way back to the school because the road was muddy, so we all got out and walked a short distance to it.  As we were walking, we passed several huts.  This first picture is one we passed.  You can see the small child looking at us in the first picture.  In the second picture, the she came out into the mud road and had the biggest smile.


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The school also has a chicken coop where they raise chickens for the eggs. 

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This was our travel group plus some of the administrators from the school.


When we left to get back on the bus, there were many kids who came asking for money or food.  Garland handed them gum and they were so excited to get it.

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Here is an example of a small child herding his goats. 



On the way back, we were all so emotionally spent from the day that many of us slept on the way back.  I slept a little, but mostly sat and thought about how blessed we are to have what we have.  I complain because we only have one bathroom in our house, but many people in Ethiopia don’t even have a house…let alone a bathroom.   Kids in America complain that they don’t have the best cell phone or an X-Box or a new laptop, but many kids in Ethiopia probably wouldn’t even know what some of those things are.  It was a very humbling experience to see how people live there. 

On the way home, I also thought a lot about the life that Noah would have had if he had not been given up for adoption.  He could have been the little four year old boy herding goats on the highway.  He could have been one of the kids walking around with only a shirt on.  We are so very lucky to have him.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Noah the whole way home.  It seemed like it had been forever since we had been with him, but it had only been a little over a day.  I couldn’t believe how much I missed him.  My arms almost ached to hold him again.  On the following day, Monday, we would go to the care center in the morning and bring the kids back to the guest house for the morning.  Monday would be the last day that we would have to take him back.  On Tuesday, he would be ours forever. 

Here are a few more pictures I took during the trip to Hossana.

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