Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thomas' musings

A few days were skipped and here we are at Dec. 6

Sunday December 6, 2009

Today was Family day at AHOPE. Family day is where the relatives or neighbors of the kids get to come and visit. This happens only 2 times a year. We were so fortunate to be here for such a wonderful and helpful event.

We waited for quite some time before Rahel's neighbor came. The event was a lot of fun. The older kids from Big AHOPE came to Little AHOPE and the kids had so much fun playing together. It was also great to see the reunion between some of the kids and their families and neighbors. The kids were so cute! One little boy befriended me and followed me around always wanting me to hold him. A number of kids would come up and ask to have their photo taken. They loved to see the picture afterward. During the event a group of older kids sang a song and acted out a skit.

The meeting with Rahel's neighbor was wonderful. Alemitu is her name. When Rahel's mother went to the hospital, Alemitu took Rahel in when no one else could. Alemitu was good friends with Rahel's mother Fantanesh. Alemitu brought a translator with her because she doesn't speak any English. Hannah runs a girls home in Addis Ababa and was the one who helped Alemitu find AHOPE for Rahel when she could no longer care for so many children. Alemitu has 3 beautiful girls of her own. Through conversation we learned that Hannah is from Utah! Wow. She raised her family in Salt Lake City! She is originally from Ethiopia. The girls' home that she runs is sort of like a YWCA for the local girls in certain areas in Addis Ababa. It's sort of like Young Womens...only Lutherine.

Rahel has a sister named Kidist. Alemitu took Kidist in when Fantanesh could no longer care for her. When Fantanesh died, Alemitu placed Kidist with her uncle and Rahel with AHOPE. Kidist is HIV negative. Alemitu is so sweet. You can see her love for Rahel and Kidist in her eyes. She truly wants the best for these girls. While talking with Alemitu, Melanie noticed that she didn't look very healthy and her eyes showed such sadness. Upon inquiring about Alemitu's health, Alemitu teared up and we knew. Alemitu is HIV positive. Hannah told us that it has progressed into AIDS and even on the medication, Alemitu's health is very unstable. She is so frail and petite. Hannah has so much admiration for this woman. She is a fighter. When she is not in bed too sick to move, she is out working hard labor to support her girls. Now to clarify - hard labor in Ethiopia is nothing like hard labor in the states. All the digging, hauling, cutting etc. is done by hand and mostly by women. Think construction without the big machines, tractors and tools. Alemitu's biggest fear is that she will die before her daughters are old enough and educated to take care of themselves. She doesn't want to leave them right now - if she does, they will have to beg on the streets. Melanie held her and cried with her and made her a promise that if she died, we would make sure that her girls would be taken care of. We will find them a family to adopt them here in the U.S. or we will sponsor them if they are too old for adoption.

Alemitu formally presented Rahel to our care, asked us to love her as our own and placed her hand in Melanie's. We thanked her for caring so well for our little Rahel and for Kidist, giving what little she had to care for them.

Beautiful Alemitu

All of us meeting and exchanging stories and information

Hannah, Rahel and Alemitu

Alemitu and I made a sweet connection despite the language barrier


Rahel's favorite caregiver. Just look at that smile.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Valentines!

I made Thomas promise not to buy me flowers this year and this is what He came up with instead! How cute! The girls had a ball using scissors and tape helping daddy make flowers for mommy.
Thomas and I spent nap time blowing up 3 packages of balloons for the girls - they had way too much fun with them!

Musical Musings

This is a wonderful version of the Lord's Prayer performed by Andrea Bocelli and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I just thought I'd share. Music does wonderful things to me (=
*Don't forget to turn off my play list at the bottom of the page before clicking on this link.

Thomas' musings

Day 2 - Tuesday Dec. 1, 2009

Tuesday was a pretty relaxed day. During Monday night, 2 more families arrived. We spent the day at Ritmo, enjoying the beginnings of the bonding process with Rahel. Rahel is a CHARACTER! She likes to tease (= She likes playing eye games and pretending she's asleep and popping up while cracking up. She really lit up when one of the new families brought one of Rahel's little friends from Little Ahope they're adopting. They had a blast together (=
There are a few things here that are distinctly different from home.
One is the call to prayer several times throughout the day. Ritmo is situated smack in the middle of 3 mosques. One of them has a wonderful voice, but the closest one to us sounds like he's in pain! It's awful! The easiest call to hear is the one at 5:00 in the morning that wakes everyone up. It gets kind of annoying.
Another difference is the smell. There are two competing smells - exhaust from cars and sewage. There are no emissions rules here obviously and even the little cars run on diesel - black smoke. Lots and lots of black exhaust. Also they burn their garbage - that's a charmer too. The exhaust can be suffocating at times. Every night when we blow our noses, the tissue is black. - nasty. The other smell, and definitely the most pervasive is the sewage. The septic systems here are designed to empty into the nearest open body of water. Often I think the sewage only makes it to the nearest stream or front door. The sewage smell is ever present and potent.
A third difference is the dogs. There are stray dogs everywhere. I'm used to hearing dogs bark all night at home - country living at it's best right? - but here it sounds like they are trying to kill and eat each other at night.

Thomas' musings

To track our adventures in Ethiopia, Thomas has done a TON of journaling. Here it order (=

Day 1 - Monday Nov. 30, 2009

Gayle, the AAI coordinator drove us to Little Ahope and led us to the nursery. When we walked into the room, the caretakers told Rahel "there's your mommy" and she just lit up! She went right to Melanie and gave her a big hug and lots of kisses. I'm so glad we were able to catch the moment on video. We spent an hour or 2 at Ahope feeding the infants and playing with Rahel and the other little kids there. They were so affectionate and lively. For lunch, we went to Messerett's (Elsa's brother) apartment where her other brothers Natan and Solomon also live. Messerett's wife is an AMAZING cook! I've never had such good injera - wow. Messerett is a Doctor at the University. He spent the weeks we were here giving lectures to educate the public about HIV. It happens to be HIV week while we're here too! Crazy. This family is so considerate and open-minded. Education is of vital importance to them and they are okay. They have a home and food. Natan is a pharmacist at a hospital here in Addis and Solomon is a Lawyer. Elsa, their sister is in Logan going to USU working on her degree.
Messeret walked us back to Ahope - at least an hour walk - I'm guessing it was quite a bit more. Walking back was a wonderful experience. We were really able to see the people of Addis Abebe. All of the little kiosks, and the differently dressed people. We weaved and dodged our way through the jumble of traffic. Traffic rules here are "He who honks first, goes first." We got back to Ahope at about 6 pm to pick up Rahel after barely surviving the walk past the slaughter yards. - Putrid!
We walked back to Ritmo guest house for the night.

What a doll!

LOTS of donkeys

Street kiosk where you buy your food etc.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Update on our crazy life

In January, I had a concert in St. George. It's so good to be playing again. I took Faith and Rahel with me and while we were there, they had a collision on a slide. Rahel's elbow was half. Yikes. We took her to the hospital and had her arm set under sedation. After 2 sleepless nights - Rahel was in a lot of pain, we drove up to Salt Lake to Primary Children's Hospital. We were checked in over night for surgery prep. She was again sedated and underwent surgery in the morning. Running from one end of the hospital to the other (several times I might add) holding 2 girls, our bags and food from doctor to doctor, I ended up pulling a muscle in my arm. I'm so glad to have this nightmare over with! She now has 2 pins in her arm and a very pink cast. She is back to her happy self now that she's not in pain. Between blood draws and sedation, Rahel suffered 7 pokes in 2 weeks. Poor girl cries at the sight of the doctor's office now. She is such a trooper. She is amazingly brave.

Rahel's English is getting better every day. It's so stinkin' cute! She has the cutest way of saying thank you and she says "I love you" with a perfect Mexican accent: "I lo Jew" - I can't get enough!

She LOVES dressing up like a princess. She has commandeered Faith's dress up box and is now the keeper of the tutu, the crowns, the wands and the shoes! What a shoe girl! She changes her shoes several times a day. After dressing up, she'll come up to me and say "Kwanjo" which means Beautiful - what a doll!
Rahel is a total ham. Those of you who stayed at Ritmo guest house with us are well aware of the fact. Out-of-control craziness! After hearing me say Rahel's such a ham, Faith has started introducing Rahel like this: "Hi. This is my sister Rahel. She's a ham." - So funny! I crack up every time I hear this.