Lux et umbra vicissum…

light and shadow by turn…

Lux et umbra vicissum… header image 2

Journal entry from 5-20-08

June 6th, 2008 · No Comments


The people here rarely see feringie [white people], so we cause quite a commotion when we go out. The children stand back and stare, giggling, until one gets bold enough to run up and say, “What is your name?” I tell them my name and ask them theirs. They usually respond, and then they run away giggling having exhausted their supply of English.

[Fair warning: I thought about cutting this part out of the post, but I decided it’s actually an interesting cultural point. Any guys reading might want to skip this paragraph.] Michelle headed to Soddo today, but we both decided it would be wise for me to stay here and hang around our hotel. It’s that time of the month for me, and apparently there are no western toilets in Soddo. Squatty potties would be much easier to use if we didn’t wear underwear like most of the natives, but I wonder what the women do when they’re bleeding. Tie old rags around themselves, I suppose.

Yesterday we brought a family of five children from Addis to the Hosanna orphanage. There was S (11 yr boy), A (9 yr boy), H (7 yr girl), E (5 yr girl), and R (1 yr girl). Their father was living and he obviously loved them very much. He was especially attached to the baby and she to him. But his wife had died several months ago, and he was unable to go to work regularly because he had no one to watch the children. They were starving. And so, though Michelle usually advocates the children staying with family until an adoptive family has been found, she made the hard decision to move them to the AWOP orphanage where we knew they could receive food and care.

The children were very good for the drive. It takes about four hours or so to get from Addis to Hosanna, but we stopped for lunch along the way so it was a bit longer. We also stopped for a “potty break”, but for these kids that meant stopping near a ditch and they were back in the van in less than a minute.

Before lunch, the children rode quietly – even the baby! I’m not sure if they completely understood what was going on, and the newness of everything must have overwhelmed them. After lunch, with some fuel in their systems, they pepped up a bit. They began playing with each other with the dolls and balls we had given them (the baby especially enjoyed an empty water bottle), and they had fun waving the baby dolls out the window as we passed people. Eventually, E got tired and we convinced her to sit in my lap to fall asleep. She was a sweet little thing and slept soundly most of the rest of the way. Of course, she also peed in my lap, but that was hardly her fault. 🙂 When she woke up I showed her pictures of my children that were in my camera.

We stayed at Hosanna House, the AWOP orphanage, for some time while Michelle met with Andy, the orphanage director, and while we gave out presents and interviewed more children. The guard there befriended S and A and was able to get them playing. H, too, was drawn into play eventually, and the baby consented to being held by a nanny. Little E, however, was far more shy and attached herself to Ewenetu, our translator and the man who will run the sponsorship program in country for AWOP. I saw that a few children were playing with balls, and it occurred to me that we could get out the balls I had brought and pump them up for the children. This we did, and the playground balls we brought were a big hit. The older children played with them volleyball style, while the younger ones played catch or soccer. The last ball I brought out was one of the small ones, and this I tossed to E who, after some urging, stood and played catch with me. I played with her for several minutes, but it occurred to me that it would do her more good if we could find her a friend in the compound. One of the other young girls was standing nearby, so I invited her to take my place, and the two of them played catch for quite a while. E’s friend also showed her where the squatty potty was when she needed it. I’m hoping their friendship can grow, but it will be difficult because they speak different languages. E speaks only Amharic, while her friend speaks only the local tribal language.

It will be hard to get the faces of H and E from my mind. The boys stood steadfastly next to each other and seemed like they would do fine as long as they were together. For H and E, however, in a very short period of time we had become their security – a sort of surrogate family. As we drove away, I looked back and saw the two little girls staring after us with looks of utter despondency on their faces – and I felt I was abandoning them.

Tags: Faith & Ministries