September 17, 2015:
After 24 hours of travel with little sleep, you have no idea how happy I am to say that we have arrived in Ethiopia!
We are all totally exhausted, and Nate passed out at dinner time, but hey, we made it.
Because we are all so exhausted, we used today as a day to get acquainted with the city, the culture and a little bit of the history of Ethiopia.
Addis Ababa was definitely not what I expected.
When I hear the word Africa, I don’t think of a happening city. I think of malnourished children, hut villages, and The Lion King.
Addis is not that. Well, not from what I saw.
On the outside, while Addis is definitely not on par with any city from the U.S. or most of Europe, it’s not that “dirt-roaded, each hut is a mile away from each other” city either.
Addis is an up and coming(ish), bustling city, with pedestrians, bright lights, billboards, taxi drivers that could hail from New York, traffic that resembles LA on steroids, and tons of people.
Loads of them.
Different shapes, different sizes, different hair styles and different styles of clothing. There are orthodox priests, Muslim women, teenage kids and older women. And they all add to the culture – and they’re proud (I think) of being Ethiopian.
But one of the best parts about Addis Ababa, and all of Ethiopia really, is the culture and history that it’s been built upon.
Well, let me restate that. Ethiopia has gone through some major crap- including a major genocide of all Christians during the communist times. But, going and seeing the sites that the Ethiopians hold so proudly was such an interesting experience.
Like, today I got to meet Lucy- the first oldest full person bone fossil found sometime between 1970s to the 1980s.
I’m not usually one who likes fossils- but hers were pretty cool. But what was even cooler, was the guide in the museum who walked us through the entire museum telling us about Ethiopian history, showing us the tools that his ancestors used in the fields. The guide who walked us through the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and pointed out every piece of history that was painted or designed into the walls.
If I wasn’t excited to be in Ethiopia before, I definitely am now.
However, something else that I saw, that tugged at my heart, was the poverty that was also intertwined into the city and the history of Ethiopia.
We had dinner with an eye doctor and his wife, who recently moved to Ethiopia a month ago to help with the blindness problem in Ethiopia. According to him, 4 million Ethiopians are close to going blind or are blind. More than 90% of these could be cured- if these people have access to it.
Boom. Ouch. Something needs to be done.
Tomorrow, the team and I are going to meet with former prostitutes, meet with women who have been kicked out from their families because of the shame they’ve brought them. in the next week we are going to hold the hands of the people who feel unseen, feel unwanted and don’t feel loved.
And we are going to do something about it.
But first, we need some sleep.