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