Heading to Ethiopia Tomorrow

 January 24, 2013

Adoption and orphan didn’t always go together in my mind.  I came to adoption because I wanted to parent another child not because I had some mission to save an orphan.  I wanted to parent one infant daughter to be specific.  Of course I ended up with something far greater, three gorgeous preschool daughters!…And a profound desire to somehow, some way make an impact in the lives of orphans.

Over the past six years that I have been part of the adoption community I have come to understand that issues surrounding adoption and orphans while intersecting are not the same.  And as I traveled back to the countries where I had adopted children  I started to see more clearly what it meant to be an “orphan”…moreover what the consequences of being born poor in a developing country often were.

I continue to want to understand…firsthand.  In some idealistic and admittedly immature way I have discovered a deep need within me to understand why circumstance is allowed to effect such basic human needs like whether one has food, shelter or even family relationships.  And I want to do my part to make things better…whatever that is.

To that end TOMORROW I head out to Ethiopia.

I’m going on a one-week scouting mission with a goal of determining if there is a medical need that my INCREDIBLE PHYSICIAN GROUP and I can meet.  I assume there is a need but I want to assess precise needs, the available resources, the logistics of such an endeavor and I most of all garner local community support so we can make a substantial impact.

I am traveling with a representative from Medwish International who will be working with me to make a similar assessment.

Ethiopia may seem like an odd choice for me.  And well, it is.  I have no connection to Ethiopia.  I have not adopted a child from this country. (AND NO I'M NOT PLANNING TO) But a lot of children have been adopted from Ethiopia in the past few years.  It is in fact one of the largest “sending” countries to the US for international adoption. That is a huge factor in my decision to go.

But the real prompt to go to Ethiopia came from my dear friend Stacy who is a founder of Two Hearts for Hope a charity working with orphans in Kazakhstan and Russia.  Stacy traveled to Korah, Ethiopia twice last year and it changed her in a way I could not ignore.  When we talked about her experiences  I would hang up the phone and find myself transfixed by thoughts of Korah.  By the time Stacy made her second trip I knew I would be going to Ethiopia too. And as fate would have it I’m actually traveling with Stacy as she heads back for a third time in less than a year. I am thrilled at that bit of good fortune.

So tomorrow afternoon I'll board my first of four flights and over the following 22 hours I will make my way to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  We will set up base at the Ethiopian Guest House for a very fast (and busy) five nights before starting back late on Thursday night.  The agenda is jam packed. 

I’m told there is internet but developing world such that it is I can’t guarantee a connect.  But if there is, Ill be writing about it all and posting the pictures right here.

Wish me luck.
“We had just come from a woman's house down the hill in Korah. She was house bound because she had lost her leg. She had stepped on something sharp in the dump while she was scavenging and didn't have the money to get her foot treated for the wound. That foot wound infected her leg and eventually turned into gangrene. She became very ill and had to have her leg amputated as a result. It is maddening that such a simple thing like a cut foot ends up taking someone's leg and ultimately, their livelihood. That would never happen here in America, yet it happens every day in Ethiopia. My friend Abbey, who is a nurse, was with me on this trip and EVERY wound she cared for was a foot wound. Every single one. You can't imagine the types of plastic shoes that people walk through the dump in - they are completely unprotected. People contract HIV by stepping on needles that have been used to treat an infected person. People wear bloody clothes that they find in the dump from hospitals. They walk through all sorts of feces and bacteria. This garbage dump is so much more than a place that holds trash. It is a place where the people who come start to believe that they are the very garbage they are there to collect.”
(Source: Children’s’ Hope Chest, The Garbage Dump…aka Hell on Earth)

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