Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On the Road to Hawassa...

This trip is such an experience and I have so many friends who have been so supportive and so excited for my family, I decided it was a good time to revive the blog and share the journey. As I've written down some thoughts over the past two days, I've come to realize how difficult it is to come up with the words to describe this moment in my life. I'll try to share different pieces of the adventure over the next few days.

As soon as we arrived in Addis, we went off on our first adventure to Hawassa. The orphanage Musse lived in for a brief time is there and that is where we planned to meet his birth dad. Hawassa is about a 5 hour trip from Addis, I believe south of the capital city. The drive has some spectacular vistas, but it also incredibly heartbreaking. We were on an actual highway for the most part, although not always well-maintained and more like what Americans would call a Farm-to-Market Road. And all along the way are throngs of Ethiopians. They are on foot, on cart, in a taxi...everyway imaginable. Some people are just walking along with nothing but the clothes on their back while others carry packs, water jugs, or fruit & vegetables. Carts filled with cornstalks rolled by as we sped down the roads. Other carts, led by overburdened donkeys, had people as their passengers, sometimes up to 10 or 12 on one tiny cart. While it was pretty sobering, at times there was also humor. Like the time we passed a cart that appeared to have no owner. Upon closer inspection, he was simply napping while letting the donkey lead the way.

Every few miles we would come to a cluster of villages with small children playing outside in the dirt, and if they weren't playing, then they were working in the fields. We saw several families plowing the ground with a pair of cows, or harvesting crops. Mothers and daughters hung their laundry out to dry on fences and rocks. Children as young as 4 or 5 herded the goats and cows alongside the road. More often that not, the livestock was without anyone to herd them and they just meandered alongside the cars. Occasionally, some of that livestock decided to cross the road and we would nudge our way around them.

Along the way we also passed through several towns. Not really what we would consider towns back in the states, but here a variety of businesses lined the road and people bustled from one end to the other. There were still the donkey-pulled carts, but the towns were also filled with taxis and cars, usually filled to capacity. Women sat on the side of the road selling roasted corn and other fresh fruits & vegetables. Stores no bigger than most American master baths sold anything from sodas and candy to car parts and electronics.

Quite possibly the strongest memory from today's journey was definitely the most heartbreaking and the one which left us feeling the most helpless. Driving down a fairly empty road, we came upon a group of about 20 people, wailing quite passionately. One woman fell to her knees in the middle of the dirt road. As we came upon them, we noticed one lone boy on a cart being pulled by a few people. He was about 6 or 7 and his legs were covered with a purple cloth. The woman running beside him had to have been his mother for the look of fear and worry on her face can only be worn by a mom. Several people rushed up to our van, their faces begging us to help. As someone pulled away that purple cloth, we understood their concern. That sweet little boy had a huge gash on his leg and it was covered in blood. Helpless to do anything, we could only pray that they made it to the next town where we saw a clinic.

I do have a few pictures from today, but I can't post them until I get home. Truth be told, the pictures I do have don't do the beauty of the countryside or the extremity of poverty any justice. Unless you've been to a third world country, your mind really can't comprehend what you see. I dont even think the poverty I've seen on mission trips comes close. Quite honestly, I still can't wrap my mind around the things I've seen over the past 36 hours. Over the past few weeks you may have seen the news stories about the Horn of Africa and the dire straits they are currently in. Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya are in the midst of a famine and I can tell you that what you see on TV is only the tip of what is on the news. Thanks for letting me share. I'll try to update tomorrow night.


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