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Ethiopia: Day 1, Hour 6, Emotions 1,000,000

Six hours in Addis Ababa with ONE and already it’s mind-altering. (It might have been 11 hours by now had our flight not been so heinously delayed, but eh, I can’t complain about a day spent in Dulles with Christine Koh.)

arriving in addis

Arriving

I just returned from an afternoon at Mary Joy Aid Through Development which felt a little something like this.

ONE Moms in Ethiopia

ONE Moms in Ethiopia

One Moms in Ethiopia

One Moms in Ethiopia

ONE Moms in Ethiopia

ONE moms in ethiopia

ONE Moms in Ethiopia

We were greeted by young girls handing us flowers. Teens singing. Mothers clapping. Boy performing circus arts. A traditional coffee service. Hugs, kisses, bows and warm handshakes. And finally, an hour sitting down with a sisterhood of mothers – an amazing group of women who support one another and take care of children when the parent is unable to, or gone altogether.

The statistics about orphans and AIDS rates that Mary Joy is supporting are staggering. But hearing statistics about orphans and HIV-positive children is nothing compared with actually knowing the gorgeous, exuberant, amazing children behind the numbers.

ONE moms in ethiopia

ONE moms in Ethiopia

ONE moms in ethiopia

ONE moms in ethiopia

ONE moms in ethiopia

ONE moms in ethiopia

ONE moms in ethiopia

I held it together while the kids sat on my lap, tickled my knees, stroked my hair, played with my camera, tried to say my name. I held it together while one boy taught me every dance move he knows. I held it together when the beautiful six year-old girl in a blue sweatshirt, with the same spirit as Thalia, kissed me so lovingly on the cheek I was sad when it was over.

When I got back on the bus, watching the kids run alongside of us waving and blowing kisses as we backed out from the dirt road through the gate and onto the street, I didn’t hold it together.

These are the times I’m happy to have my own sisterhood.

—–

I’m currently visiting Ethiopia courtesy of ONE, a nonpartisan advocacy organization fighting extreme poverty and preventable disease, especially in Africa. The more people spread the word, the louder our voices, the more governments and foundations will keep the aid coming. If you can amplify our voices by tweeting, reposting, sharing our posts it’s more meaningful than you know.

Learn more at the ONEMoms blog and see the rest of the trip team’s blogs, and follow (and use!) the hashtag #ONEMoms on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram.

If you want to know more about Mary Joy sponsorships, about $1/day or $300/year takes care a child who really really needs it. It means food and healthcare, a home to live in, educational materials and teaching, clothing to wear, and the occasional fun. Which shouldn’t be occasional when you’re a kid.

[top photo c Karen Walrond, all others c Liz Gumbinner]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{ 31 comments… add one }

  • Tracey 10.07.2012, 12:42 pm

    What a lovely story. I could barely hold it together while reading it. :) Looking forward to hearing more about Ethiopia.

  • traceyclark 10.07.2012, 12:51 pm

    awesome. just awesome!

  • Julie Machad0 10.07.2012, 12:53 pm

    Beautiful…the work, the story…everything. Thank you for including us in on this journey.

  • Nicole Melancon 10.07.2012, 1:42 pm

    What a lovely first day and such beautiful photos! I can’t wait to read more!

  • Dawn @thedalaimama 10.07.2012, 2:44 pm

    Beautiful. Just beautiful–the pics and the sentiment.

    My daughter is one of those statistics. It changes you forever when it is flesh and blood and just not a number.

    • Mom101 10.07.2012, 3:17 pm

      I get it Dawn. Being here, seeing these kids…I get it. You’re so lucky to have found each other.

  • The Muskrat 10.07.2012, 3:26 pm

    Can’t wait to see more pictures and learn more about this !
    Glad y’all got this opportunity.

  • Dorf's Daughter 10.07.2012, 3:44 pm

    Oh, Lizzie (I’m allowed to call you that since you won’t answer to
    “Elizabeth.”),

    I knew you’d begin to write about Ethiopia such emotion, knowing how fortunate you are and knowing how much love still exists in the world-in spite of. Because of. When the human spirit shines, it lights us all. Please continue to let us know how you’re faring and what we can do to support your efforts.

    • Mom101 10.07.2012, 4:00 pm

      I know it generally sounds self-serving…but what you can do is like, tweet, link, use the hashtag, and help get the word out. The more governments hear the demand for support of at-risk people in great poverty, the more likely they are to keep up that support.

      You’ve come up a lot today by the way. It’s hard not to make so many comparisons to Sarajevo. Especially knowing we’re visiting women artisans and small fair trade businesses like this one. From what I can see already, these are not people who want handouts. They’re not afraid of hard work, and want a good future for their children. They just need someone to believe in them and invest in them.

      • Julie Marsh 10.08.2012, 9:20 am

        Liz, I wish you’d have been well enough to join us for the lunch at Sfoglia with TMS “Teddy” Ruge – you’d have been nodding along with me as he told us that Africans want to retain their own agency; they want trade, not aid.

  • tracy@sellabitmum 10.07.2012, 4:08 pm

    So incredibly awesome!

  • Elizabeth Atalay 10.07.2012, 5:19 pm

    Liz thank you for sharing the photos and stories from part of your day today! I am sitting here next to Jeannine’s Brother as we look at the photos, choked up by your post, and happy to see the ONEMoms smiling faces in the pictures!

    • Mom101 10.08.2012, 12:22 am

      Oh how great Elizabeth! Tell him he’s got a hell of a sister. And she’s not such a bad African dancer either.

  • katherine stone 10.07.2012, 6:24 pm

    You gave me the chills and made me cry. Beautiful.

  • Korinthia Klein 10.07.2012, 8:37 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey in this space so we can follow along. What an amazing experience.

  • Isabel @alphamom 10.07.2012, 11:41 pm

    What beautiful pictures and story. Can’t wait for tomorrow to hear more.

    xo

  • Brenna @ Almost All The Truth 10.08.2012, 12:21 am

    These photos are amazing. Everyone should have an experience like this, whether it is a trip to Ethipopia with ONE (and that truly sounds life-altering) to volunteering in the depths of Oakland, Ca for a school year. We all need a little perspective on how others live and how we can help. Have a great journey.

  • Boston Mamas 10.08.2012, 12:57 am

    It’s amazing to be doing this with you Liz. What wonderful photos… {sniff}

  • Kylie Hodges (@kykaree) 10.08.2012, 3:02 am

    Beautiful photos.

    I am a member of Britmums supporting Jen Howze and Michelle Pannel, give them a big hug from me.

    It’s amazing what you are doing, and its going to be so hard to say goodbye. I hope all of us on the ground can really get the word out about ONE and the difference international aid is making in countries like Ethiopia.

    Be safe and well, and keep telling these important stories.

  • Paul S. Gumbinner 10.08.2012, 8:45 am

    I am proud of you and what you are doing beyond words. Thanks for being you.

  • Julie Marsh 10.08.2012, 9:28 am

    Hey, we’re scarf twins!

    Gorgeous photos. I can feel the love and happiness emanating from them. I look forward to learning more, as do my girls, who read your post and looked at your pictures from over my shoulder. (Especially CJ, who is still intent on sending a sample of her knitting to the women at FashionABLE.)

  • AmyeToTheRescue! 10.08.2012, 9:47 am

    Amazing photos of the beautiful children! So proud of you!
    Sending so much love…

  • C.C. Chapman 10.08.2012, 10:15 am

    Loving following along remotely with your adventure.

    Enjoy every minute of it.

  • stacy 10.08.2012, 10:45 am

    Heart tuggingly beautiful!! Thank you so much for sharing your story, we’re following along with you

  • Meagan Francis 10.08.2012, 10:46 am

    I am loving following along with all of you as you share this journey with us. It’s so important. (And I barely held it together reading this!)

  • Amanda 10.08.2012, 2:15 pm

    I loved how ready you had me to give myself completely to the story you were telling. My heart and eyes sprang into action as you finally told us you didn’t hold it together. Doing what I can to carry the baton.

    Thank you for helping us not just see, but feel. It matters.

    • Mom101 10.08.2012, 3:09 pm

      You always do so much Amanda, thank you. And it does matter.

  • Heather M 10.09.2012, 2:22 am

    I’ve heard Africa changes you…forever. Kristen, at We Are THAT Family, went with Compassion International and came back changed…so much so, she and her family opened a nonprofit home for pregnant women to get care before and after childbirth – Mercy House.

    I wish you a fantastic trip! Stay safe.

  • Arnebya 10.09.2012, 10:26 am

    I found it hard to hold it together just reading, seeing the faces of a people so deserving of betterment, of uplifting of our support.

  • Kelley 10.09.2012, 9:14 pm

    I’m in love with all of you.
    So glad you’re there-thinking of you and the rest!

  • jennrene 10.23.2012, 9:31 pm

    Just reading this first ever post makes me want to follow u for a very long time. Thx for sharing!

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