I have included a before and after picture of the kitchen we renovated at one of the orphanages we visited.
April 21, 2010
I wanted to share a few photos of the people who received the health kits that the students of Linkhorn Park and Star of the Sea Catholic School put together. Everyone was so happy to get them and I know they will have a positive impact on the health of those who received them.
April 18, 2010
I am now back in America safe and sound. Our flight back was almost 20 hours long. We flew from Ethiopia to Rome. From Rome we had to take a long route back to the US because of the volcano eruption in Iceland. We were lucky that the airports in southern Europe were not closed like those in northern Europe.
Ethiopia was amazing. It was a great two weeks but I am happy to be home and even happier to be back with my family!
I will post some pictures during this week with explanations about what they are and where they were taken so stay tuned for further updates!
Mission Man – Mr. K
April 16, 2010
April 15, 2010
On Wednesday afternoon we went on a safari into Awash National Park. We drove up to the gate of the park to pay for our entrance and pick up our park ranger. He boarded our van with his rifle. I thought it was a bit dramatic since I figured we would only see a few warthogs and an oryx or two. I would be glad later that we had him, just in case.
After only a few minutes of driving, a warthog ran across the road in front of us. It was our first of many sightings that day. We drove along until we reached the Awash Falls. We could hear the rushing water as we exited the van. We walked down a path and there in front of us were the spectacular waterfalls of Awash. I immediately began taking pictures. I walked down a path to the bottom of the falls. The roar of the water was deafening. I was taking pictures when our park ranger pointed to the far bank of the river. About 40 yards away was a crocodile sunning itself on a rock. He was pretty large … any thoughts of swimming quickly faded.
After visiting the falls, we piled back into our van and continued our trek through the park. We were driving along when we saw two guinea fowl. They are the same birds that you see at the zoo … Hunt Club Farms even has some. We were looking at them when suddenly we saw a black-backed jackal. He was stalking the guinea fowl. The birds began calling out once they realized the jackal was near. The jackal, having been discovered, gave up his hunt. He stood there looking at us almost as if he was posing for our cameras. Amazingly, the jackal then sat down and then even laid down. Our guide had never seen a jackal stop like that before. The jackal then got up and trotted off. We noticed as he left that a second jackal had been waiting behind some brush. They trotted off together in search of their dinner. We drove off again in search of more sites. Soon we saw a family of warthogs foraging and playing just off of the road. We stopped and watched them for some time. The baby warthogs were cute … if you can really say that about a warthog.
As we continued on our drive, we saw our first oryx, which are large grey animals with very long black horns. Google the word Oryx to see what they look like. We did not watch the oryx too long as our guide assured us we would see more of them and they would be closer to us; he was right! We soon saw a small herd of oryx about 50 yards from us just trotting along. Suddenly our park ranger yelled, “simba!” which means lion. A lion ran from the bush just behind the oryx. The oryx took off running as the lion chased them. It was amazing! We could not believe that we were watching a lion hunting oryx. The hunt was not successful this time. The lion stopped after a short chase and then the oryx stopped, too. The oryx turned around and stared at the lion. This staring contest went on for about 5 minutes until the oryx began to slowly make another retreat. The lion watched them for a while and then disappeared back into the brush and trees. It was truly a spectacular and rare experience.
It was my first safari and one that I will never forget. I was so lucky to have seen these animals in the wild!!!!
On Wednesday we set out early from Adama to go to Awash National Park. We had a different van for this trip … it was more modern and had air conditioning! What a treat! It was a very hot day, so we were glad to have this luxury. We drove through some of the most interesting and beautiful scenery. We stopped several times along the way for pictures. There was one area that was a semi-active volcanic area. The lake at the base of this area was black from the volcanic chemicals it contained. It was still very beautiful and it was certainly a unique landscape.
The drives in Ethiopia are rather interesting and today was no exception. The highways are only two lanes wide with one lane going in each direction. While the roads are used by cars and trucks, they are also used by people to move goats, cattle, and today we learned … camels. We passed several herds of camels that were being moved along the side of the road. On several occasions, our driver has had to stop for or drive around a cow. The larger trucks on the roads are slower than the cars and our van. People are constantly passing slower moving vehicles. Sometimes it is best not to watch as we pull into the opposite lane to pass … especially at night … the lights of the on-coming cars and trucks seem closer than they are … I hope.
We reached the town of Awash in three hours. We ate lunch after we checked into our rooms. I had roasted lamb. It was absolutely delicious. I know Mrs. Hampton’s class would have loved it. Unfortunately, I will not be able to fulfill their request of bringing them goat meat but can’t wait to tell them about the lamb!
After lunch, several of us went to explore the town of Awash. It was great but once again we raised the curiosity of the locals. We turned down a side street and soon came upon a fierier. He had set up shop under a tree and had put up a tarp to provide more shade. Stones had been used to create the oven for heating the iron. One man was using the inner tube of a truck tire to force air into the fire to make it hot enough to heat the iron until it was glowing orange. Two other men used large hammers to pound the metal into shape. They were making horseshoes! That is what a fierier does … he makes horseshoes. The people in this area use horse drawn carts as their transportation. I purchased one horseshoe and some nails for 10 bir … about 80 cents.
After our walk around the small town we returned to our hotel to prepare for our late afternoon safari.
On Tuesday, we drove about four hours out of the city of Adama to a rural village. We turned off the main road and basically went four wheeling in our bus for about an hour before we reached the village. About 80 men, women, and children from the village greeted us. The village leaders ushered us over to some benches that had been placed in the shade of a tree. The villagers gathered around in front of us as we were introduced. Two women then came forward and placed two containers on the ground in front of us. The containers were beautifully decorated with shells and colorful beads. The village leader told us that they had prepared their finest food to honor us. One container held milk and the other a paste like food. I had a spoonful of the paste. It was very dry but did not really have much of a taste. When the rest of the team had tried the food the villagers smiled and clapped. We then asked the leaders to eat with us. The people really enjoyed that. They had greatly honored us with this presentation and it meant a lot to them that we honored them back by eating what they had prepared.
We were able to distribute corn to the village families. We gave health kits to the women and tooth brushes to everyone. We then did crafts with the children. Everyone seemed interested and we even got the men involved in coloring. One of the women picked up a goat skin drum and began beating out a song. Other women joined her and began singing and dancing. It was fantastic. They were thrilled when two women from our team joined them.
At the end of the day, we drove toward the main road via a different route than the one we had taken in the morning. A young man from the village rode a horse in front of us to show us the way. The road was very narrow in many places with large bushes growing on each side. We had to close our windows to protect ourselves from the branches that were rubbing against the side of the van. Boy, was it hot and we had picked up a few extra riders … about a dozen or so flies! We were glad when the road opened up and we could once again open the windows. No – there was no AC in the van!
As we were approaching the small town of Bubola to reach the main highway, our van broke down. We were stuck in the middle of a dirt road intersection. Our driver left us to go get a part to fix the van. I got out of the van with several team members and began talking to some of the people who were gathering around us. They were very pleasant and very curious about us. A few of them spoke English so we were able to talk to one another. After about thirty minutes, our driver had us ready to go again. The men on the team and many of the people we had been talking to pushed the van to get it started and we were on our way once again. What a day!
April 14, 2010
Good day, everyone!
I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments and appreciate your encouragement. Hello to Mrs. Hampton’s and Mrs. Lehner’s classes and everyone at LPES. I am sorry that I will not be able to bring back any goat meat; I cannot afford to pay for a plane ticket for a goat!
April 12, 2010
We went back to the widows and orphans home in Adama again today. We spent the day playing with the children and doing crafts with the kids and widows. The widows were very grateful for the health kits we gave them. We made sure to explain what each item was so they would know how to use it. The small tubes of tooth paste looked like face cream so we were sure to clear that up for them.
We ate lunch in between the activities. They served us some more traditional foods today. There was an orange pudding like dish that was made with smashed beans. It was pretty good. It reminded me of refried beans but with a little spice to it. I was passed a metal bowl that contained some meat in a sauce. I was told that it was goat meat. I tried a little and it was surprisingly good. I took a second spoonful in fact. Potatoes are a big part of the meals at the orphanage so we have had mashed potatoes at every meal. There was also a dish of cooked cabbage and carrots that was very good.
After lunch I noticed one of the widows roasting coffee beans. Once the beans were roasted she sat on the ground outside of the kitchen to grind them. I asked her – using gestures as she did not speak English and I do not speak Amharic – if I could grind the coffee beans for her. She motioned for me to sit. She handed me the hand-carved wooden cup which held the roasted beans and a piece of iron rebar about an inch thick and 10 inches long. I began pounding the beans with the iron rod. The widow and the other cooks got quite a kick out of watching me … especially when I began moving to the beat of my pounding of the beans. We had a great time. Once the coffee was ground, the widow took it back into the kitchen. She then reemerged and asked – again through gestures – if I would join them for coffee. We sat around a small rug on the ground as she poured the ground coffee into a traditional coffee pot full of boiling water. We waited as the coffee brewed. The widow then poured the coffee into a traditional cup – it looked like a small bowl – and handed it to me. The widows waited until I was served and had begun to drink my coffee before they served themselves. It was the best cup of coffee I have had so far on this trip and they were delighted that I was enjoying it. I asked for one of our translators to join us and asked him to tell the widows how honored I was that they allowed me to participate in their coffee ceremony and how it had touched my heart to receive such an honor. They told me that they were honored that I joined them. It is certainly a memory that I will cherish forever. They then asked if I would sit with them for a photo. We had a lot of fun as my team members snapped away with their cameras.
We travel tomorrow to a small village called Bubola. It is in a very rural part of Ethiopia. We will have to leave our van behind and ride in horse carts to get there because the roads are so narrow. I can not wait!
The team was invited to a church service today. They sat us right in the front row. They were singing when we entered; their voices were beautiful. I have no idea what they were singing but it really was wonderful. After the singing, the minister introduced us to great applause and women trilling – a high pitch vibrating yell. The minister then began his sermon which was just over two hours long. The ventilation in the church was not that great so it was very hot. Two hours is a long time to sit when you have no clue what is being said and you are dripping with sweat. It was an honor to be invited, though, so we did our best to look interested and involved.
After lunch at the orphanage, we went shopping in some local stores in Adama. The street where the stores are is only about 20 feet wide. They have some very beautiful cloth and traditional clothing. I was able to purchase a few things. We attracted quite a crowd of on-lookers after a while, so we thought it would be best if we went back home. We were very safe but it was just getting very crowded with everyone looking at us and following us.
I hope everyone had a great Spring Break. Talk to you again soon.