A couple days after we arrived, the Medical team and us made the 4 hour journey down to the town of Sheshemene. Over 200 children who once lived in Korah and got their food from the trash dump there now live in a beautiful boarding school here. Last year was their first year at the school. I cannot even imagine the transition they had! I think of Aliya's transition year with us here in the U.S. Wow! How much more difficult would it be for a group of children who once lived with no rules and in and among dangerous gangs in a dump to come to a structured boarding school? It is nothing short of a miracle to see the changes in the kids.
The young man who is talking to me in the pic above is Tilahun. He was instructed to give us a tour while the clinic was taking place on the rest of the students. We were told that our job for the day was to visit with the students. SCORE! There is nothing I like better:) Tilahun walked us to the cafeteria since it was lunch time. On the way, this articulate young man told me that he loved school and wanted to be a pastor when he grew up. Melt my heart! He loves the Lord and wants to serve Him.
He wanted to take and show us his dorm right away but I insisted he eat lunch with the rest of the kids first. We sat down for lunch and he asked me if I would share his lunch with him. How could I turn that sweet offer down? The kids each received a huge lunch of injera, wat (lentil stew) and cooked cabbage. Tilahun shared his injera and wat with me. I was very moved by this unselfish gesture.
It wasn't long before Katie found Habtamu...or Habtamu found Katie-not sure which one! Katie and Habtamu formed a special bond when the kids were there a couple summers ago. He always called her, "My muzzer" (mother). As you can see, this young man is just a few years younger than Katie but he really loves her and she loves him.
Katie and Habtamu. Is he a handsome kid or what? He and his older brother are both sponsored and at the boarding school. They have an older brother named Wendimu who is a 3rd year engineering student at the University of Addis Ababa. He spent a lot of time with Katie and De while we were doing the clinic in Korah. After his classes were over, he came and talked with them for hours. He actually invited us to their home, which of course we accepted. Just wait for that post! Amazing!!
De and his little buddy whom he calls Little Thug. It seems that De holds some sort of celebrity status with the people of Korah. As soon as we entered the lunchroom, kids started pointing and saying, "DE!" Kids peeked in the lunchroom window waiting for him to acknowledge them. They didn't forget Katie either, as they were calling for her, too. Many asked where "Freeek" was. That was their name for Blake, as for them "Freeek" is a name used for a person with a different style. At the time, Blake had a mohawk and the kids loved it!
Tilahun escorted us to his dorm room, which he shares with 7 other kids. He was so proud to show us his bunk and then he opened a small cupboard, probably a 2 foot cube size which held all his worldly possessions and pulled out this certificate. He earned the rank of 4th in his 6th grade class! He also pulled out an Amharic/English phrase book and told me he wanted me to have it. I tried to turn him down but he was insistent that I have it. He was so proud to have something to give to me. I was so humbled. So humbled. All he owns is in this cupboard and he wants me to have one of his books. How unselfish! I will treasure it always.
Our trip was absolutely wonderful! We had the best traveling companions in Kevin and Denise, Katie and De. Any opportunity that presented itself, we all jumped in with both feet and no fear. No one hesitated. No one complained. We took everything in that we could! This was the best 25th anniversary destination that we could imagine. So many memories, so many bonds formed that will not be broken.
In the days ahead, I will walk through our trip with pics and memories. It's too much all to do at once...trust me:)
Thank you for your prayers!
Tomorrow, more Sheshemene.