It’s almost 9 PM here in Addis Ababa, and we are about half an hour away from boarding our flight. From there, we have about 27 hours of traveling ahead of us before we land in Sweet Home Alabama. Phew…that’s a lot.
So here’s what we did on our last day in Ethiopia: This morning, we went to visit Kibebe Betsehay Orphanage. This is one of 3 government orphanages in Ethiopia, and it is considered the worst of them all. There are not enough staff and the facilities are not fit for little children. This orphanage is primarily for children 5 and under, though a few older children are still there for various reasons. Our leaders, Tymm and Laura Hoffman, run a Non Profit Organization called Brighton Their World. You should definitely visit their website to find out about the awesome things they are doing to care for orphans just as God’s Word commands us to. They give TONS of formula to help these orphans get the nutritional food they need. Kibebe Betsehay has not allowed any team like this within their walls, but due to Tymm and Laura’s continued relationship with them through Brighton Their World, we were allowed in.
We spent the first part of the morning touring the facilities. It’s certainly in desperate need of some changes, but they are doing the best they can with what they have. They are desperately in need of more staff, and ESPECIALLY occupational therapists and physical therapists. The children in the special needs room look like they are rarely out of their cribs (some up to 9 years old) and they do not have the equipment needed to get these children the help they need. That was the most heartbreaking part to me.
Then we went to the infant room. I didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time with infants at Noel in Rwanda, so I enjoyed doing something new! I found the CUTEST little boy (I think it was a boy). He was dressed in a little orange pumpkin onesie. They don’t have names so I called him my lil punkin. He was so beautiful, but unfortunately the orphanage doesn’t allow pictures. Oh well. Just trust me. He made awesome crazy faces and had huge eyes with long eyelashes.
Afterwards we played with the toddlers/young kids. Due to the lack of staff, the kids obviously get away with a lot. They fight like crazy. I mean 4 year olds are punching each other in the mouth and kicking in the stomach. It’s pretty unusual to see such hardcore fighting from little bitty kids. I spent most of the time just holding this one little cross-eyed boy with a hairlip who got picked on and pushed down. He hit his head on the table and started tearing up. It obviously wasn’t a serious injury, but once I picked him up into my lap and kissed his boo-boo, he sat there for the next hour and didn’t budge. I don’t even know his name, and I only knew him for a short time, but it was still sad leaving him just after knowing him for a short time.
Then we went to a street market to do some shopping and use up our Burr (Ethiopian currency). We found some cool stuff, but it’s just sad because so many beggars hang out there and ask the rich white people for money. And finally we came back to the guest house to pack, eat dinner, and say goodbye to our awesome guide Nebyet (probably butchered that spelling).
Everyone is SSSSOOOO sad to be leaving each other. We’re all exhausted and ready to be home, but we aren’t ready to leave one another. Seriously, with 28 people on a team, I thought for sure at least a few people would be weirdos. But no. We’ve all gotten along SO WELL!! These people are like family to me. We’re already planning a reunion. I have never in my life seen people so incredibly willing to do WHATEVER God asks of them. On top of coming to Africa, I’ve seen people just give and give and give some more. We get peed on, we get muddy, we get sweaty, we get pulled in all directions and break up fights…but these people never stop. They are so full of Jesus. This is what the body of Christ should look like — reaching out to orphans and widows and giving to the poor and spreading a message of hope, joy, and love wherever we go. I pray that I will be just like these people. I know that America will be different, but I pray that I will continue to keep Jesus at the forefront of my mind at all times, just like these generous, wonderful, hilarious, 27 team members have shown me. I will miss these people so much, and I’m not kidding when I say we need to go on another trip with just the same people…no one else allowed. To all my VO team members and leaders, I LOVE YOU!!