I traveled to Ethiopia this week for the first time in life...
I spent 17 hours of flying time wondering...
- “What will I see?”
- “Will I be able to eat?”
- “Can I handle the emotions of seeing all of the poverty?”
- “How will I handle seeing my family's sponsor child at Children's Home Ethiopia?”
On several occasions, I would just start crying on the plane. The anticipation and uncertainty of how I would handle these things was too much for me at times.
On the 2nd day here, it was time to go to the drop-in center to meet the kids, the staff, and my family's sponsor child. I couldn't wait.
Walking through the door was an experience...
All of the kids came running up to us, hugging and kissing us. It was awesome. However, I could not find Edalawit, the child we sponsor.
Nega finally found her. Making eye contact with her and seeing the smile on her face was priceless. I gave her a big bear hug and didn't want to let go. For the next few hours we took tons of pictures, played games and just had a blast.
When it was time to leave, I could tell Edalawit was sad, but I had them tell her I would be back on Saturday and she smiled. I gave her a hug and said I would see her Saturday.
Saturday: Time to See Edalawit and the Other Children...
When I got there, they gave me a big welcome and gave me flowers and an “official Ethiopia welcome.” It was great. The children are so full of life and energy and we played for a couple of more hours.
As the afternoon wound down, I went to meet Edalawit's guardian and to give Edalawit gifts from my family. It was so great to meet her family and see her eye's light up when she opened the gifts. She lives in a 1 room shanti with 4 adults and a toddler.
As this was our final moments together, it was all I could do not to cry. I did not want to cry because I did not want Edalawit to cry or get upset. So, with a big frog in my throat I gave her one final hug and we left. I told her I would be back with family to see her again.
So here I am today...
...Sunday, writing this story trying to summarize what I experienced in a few paragraphs. There are many things I have learned, seen, felt, and experienced while I was here in Ethiopia and I would say the following is the best attempt by me to summarize the key ones I want to share:
1. I, and anyone who meets the CHE children, are blessed to be a part of these children's lives. They make me a better person. To see the spirit and energy they have in the conditions they live in is amazing.
2. God's work is being carried out every day in Ethiopia. The drop-in center and SAFE projects are wonderful outlets for these at-risk children. Nega and his staff are doing a great job with the resources they have and, by the way, they need more resources.
3. There will always be work to do in Ethiopia, the problems are so big and the resources are so small. TFC/CHE and the many other NGO's that I saw are the main source of aid for these children. We can never stop being Advocates for these children.
4. The most important thing I experienced is that these children want to be loved. They want a hug and a kiss, and they want to sit with you or just hold your hand. They want to know your name. They want to play. They don't care about much more than that, and that is very humbling to me.
This experience will never leave my heart or my mind. I thank God for putting me through this emotional/spiritual train wreck over the past 7 days. I don't believe I will ever be the same.
~ Chris Farrell-TFC Board Member & Edalawit's Sponsor