Tuesday, April 10, 2012
We spent our first day in Addis, resting and hanging out briefly with some of the skateboard team. The next morning, we made the long drive to Dessie. While in Dessie, we met the wonderful volunteers of Beza, who coordinate our work with the mamas who are sponsored by BEMM. We split into two teams, and visited about 70 mothers and their families in their homes. There were many, many inspiring stories of improved lives through sponsorship... so many of these women just needed a head start and someone to believe in them.
While in Dessie, we took turns staying with Jaime at the safe house. We welcomed our first resident while we were there, an absolutely lovely 13 year old girl. The safe house has been named in her honor. While she is adjusting to life off of the streets, BEMM staffers will be evaluating our mothers in hopes of finding one who will make a wonderful foster mother for this sweet girl.
After a couple days of visiting mamas, we made the trip to Mareya (Mar-yay) to deliver the 4x4 ambulance, affectionately known by the team as the BEMM-mobile. I have never experienced anything more awesome than our arrival into Mareya... hundreds and hundreds of people singing and clapping, cheering and surrounding our vehicles... signs and banners... it was a heartfelt and incredibly moving welcome. We were put "on stage" and greeted as honored guests. The hospitality was generous and amazing. The most incredible highlight of our visit to Mareya was that Susan, our P.A. on this trip, delivered a healthy baby girl with the help of our intrepid leader Steffany and some minimal supervision from the Mareya medical staff. The parents named the baby Steffany. :)
Next, the hike up the mountain to Azga, the home village of our beloved translator and BEMM staffer Eyob. The mountains are beautiful... and steep. Honestly, I wanted to kill myself. I'm glad I didn't though, and got to enjoy one of the most beautiful places on Earth hosted by the most beautiful and loving people on Earth. Also, I ate goat and I liked it.
We returned to Dessie for more mama visits and a day of training and fun for the mothers. My group went to a beautiful area called Boru, which is sort of like a "suburb" of Dessie. It was incredibly beautiful and lush. Two of the mothers had to make the long trip from here to Dessie for the training day, which just proves the dedication of these women... they really want to change their lives. The training day featured medical stations for private HIV consultation, general medical check-ups, a station to write letters to sponsors, a nail salon station for some pampering, testimonials from some of our most successful mothers and lunch and fellowship for all. We were so pleased at how well everything went and the attendance was excellent!
On my last day in Ethiopia, I went with my friend Kim to the tattoo parlor. I got some improvements to my tattoo and Kim got her first one. I don't have good pictures to post, but I'll try to get some for later.
The group was wonderful and many new friendships were made and old ones strengthened. I plan to go next spring as well, and hope to take Emily. I can't stress enough what a worthwhile group BEMM is and how proud I am to be a small part of it.