Kombulcha & Bete Hisenete there, Addis

Monday, June 8, 2009

Our Ethiopia trip and finally return....

We arrived in Addis on May 25th and spent the night at a the TDS guest house. We got quite a surprise from Ato Teklu that night as he brought Ebrahim to meet us already. Apparently he had been asking when he would meet his mother. He was very shy and sat there quietly as we planned for our trip to Kombulcha the next day. The next morning we left for Kombulcha at 6 am. We started the journey excited and anxious yet unsure of what was to come. The journey soon became long, arduous and extremely rough. The road was under construction and at times was so bumpy that I nearly flew from my seat. Chandler got car sick, but luckily didn't vomit. We enjoyed the scenery and were surprised just how primatively many of the people still live in hut's of grass, mud and eucalyptus branches. Cattle, sheep and goats were hearded along the narrow highway and through the village streets. Farmers plowed with oxen and a single blade on a wooden plow...much as was used in our pioneer days. Rocks and branches were used for everything. Burros hauled grain, branches, grasses and water. Everywhere we traveled, hauling of water seemed to comprise a large part of each person's day. At one point, we saw a sea of color as school children walked to or from school in their brightly colored and matching school uniforms. As we traveled further North, the dress changed as there is a large population of Muslims. Many of the men wore a "skirt" type bottom. We also saw camels carrying supplies which we really didn't expect. When we passed one man with some camels, he shouted something. Our driver said he yelled, "This camel is for sale". Apparently some are for work and some are to eat...and that one was for eating. We stopped twice to rest and eat each way. I tried lamb and actually liked it, as I had cooked it before and didn't like it. I tried injera. It is like a pancake, but very bitter and I couldn't get a liking for it. We had eggs and bread instead. We also drove through 2 mountain tunnels that had been dug by the Italian's....I was unclear if it was a recent thing, or done during their occupation in the past. When we finally arrived in Kombulcha 9 hours later, we checked into a place to stay. There was no power, as they depend primarily on hydropower and it had been dry lately. We relied on candle light in the bathroom. We dined El Fresco in a pleasant temperature...although Kombulcha seemed hotter than Addis. We then met with the local Bete Hisenete representative who directed us to the home of Ebrahim's relatives. We drove a short ways and then had to finish by foot. We walked through an archway of a canopy of trees down a dirt path. We soon reached his granparent's hut. It was a small 2 room sructure with a tin roof. We sat with his granmother and asked her questions. His grandfather later arrived and soon many curious visitors peered in on us probably wondering who we were and why we were there. We also met 2 of his cousins who are also cared for by the grandparents. They shared with us Ebrahim's circumstances and also gave us a picture of his birth mom. We were able to take pictures of his granparents and cousins and the home that was his since his birth until just this past Decemeber. We gave her a photo of Ebrahim and one of our family which she kissed over and over. I thanked her tearfully for allowing us to meet her and her family. As I walked away from their home, I was in awe of what had just happened and the choices they had been forced to make. We then toured the Bete Hisanete in Kombulcha which houses the orphanas temporarily as well as a large group of sponsored children who are there to get schooling, food and shelter with the goal of returning to their home later. We then returned to the place we were staying and relaxed on a porch outside of our room as I read and Chandler played his DS....as he had been advised there would be no more of that once Ebrahim was with us. I eventually dozed off and we retired early and woke early. There was no power or water in the morning. We began the trek home which was another 9 hours, but seemed more tolerable perhaps because in that short time, more road was built and perhaps because of the rewards we had reaped in Kombulcha. When we arrived in Addis we had the opportunity to see Ebrahim again, so after the 9 hour ride we went for another visit. We played with chalk, bubbles and soccer. When it was time to go, Ebrahim told Ato Teklu that he wanted to go with me, so it was decided that he would join us on Tuesday, instead of Sunday. We spent alot of time playing soccer. He also liked writing the alphabet and numbers. He loved the playdough we brought and we also watched some movies. We did alot of shopping and found some wonderful things. When we shopped we were inunduated with shop keepers very insistently pushing their wares as well as beggars. We had to haggle alot too. We also went to the museum where "Lucy" is, Entonto mountain for a panoramic view of Addis and a cave where the priests hid during their time of religious persecution. We attended a dinner with traditional music, dance, and food that was pretty amazing. We were glad to have the experience to tour his country and learn more about his culture. We began to count down the days though, that we would return home to make our family one! On June 5th at 5:45 pm we finally landed in Phoenix. It felt like we were gone a month and it was almost surreal to see my husband and girls waiting for us in baggage claim. We only made it about half way home before Ebrahim, me and Chandler all zonked out. I pretty much dozed most of the night and through it. I got up at 2 am and Chandler was still up, so I had to send him to bed. By Sunday we were all on track for days and nights and I even went out for a grocery run. Ebrahim has adjusted well so far....no grieving. He is like a whirlwind though and into everything. He seems to enjoy the 2 yr olds cause/effect toys the most....he never really had that stage. He is eating like a horse and loves pasta, meat, bananas and bread. After we rest a few days, we will begin to prepare him for school. At the embassy in Addis, we found out he is 7.5 not 6.5 yrs old, which is fine with us. When I saw his dentition I thought he seemed young to have so many adult teeth. However, on the plane he said he was 8. We shall see! The poor kids birthday is the day after Christmas...so it would be a good chance to put some spread between the gift times!


adventures north said...

Thanks for posting this. I soaked up every word. It sounds a lot like what I'll be doing very soon. I really appreciate this!

Julia said...

So, was the trip to Kombulcha worth it in the end? Sounds like an amazing trip all the way through and it also sounds like Ebrahim is thoroughly ready for a new mom. My Little Bit's birthday is also listed as 12/26. I think they make the birthday the day they came into care. If that's the case, they each arrived the same day but at different orphanages.

Kelli Gray said...

Wonderful video...this will bless many of our children as they grow and desire to see where they were born. Thank you so much for sharing this and many hugs and kisses to you and your children.
Kelli Gray