Friday, July 29, 2011

Wednesday in Addis - 2nd visit and Entoto Mountain

Our second visit was our surprise visit -the one we didn't know we'd be able to have.  It seemed much more calm, less frantic. Or maybe I just felt more calm and less frantic.  I think at the first visit I was always very aware that we only had one more chance with him after that.  Our second visit seemed smoother. We walked right in, took off our shoes (ha ha - I wonder if they'll always remember me as the mom who brought in all the mud) and just spent the hour getting to know our boy and the other kiddos in his room.  I felt like after that visit I really had a feel for the personalities of all the kids in there. I'm hoping to be able to find the families who belong to those kids and give them a little update.  Oh some of those kiddos are so funny, some are so sweet, others very quietly inquisitive. I love seeing little personalities shine through!

That hour was just pure bliss... playing with A, playing with his friends in his room, getting to know the caregivers a little bit. They don't speak English but you'd be surprised how creative you get when you're trying to communicate over a language barrier. We showed them pictures of our family and they commented (well, pantomimed) that Allyn is "sturdy" like A is.  During this visit, I was able to sit back a bit and watch. You can see that our boy has a healthy attachment to his caregivers.  

That's a really good thing.  But it makes me cry. I love this child, I hate for the hurt that he's going to go through when he comes home to our family.  Adoption is a wonderful thing, but it's more of a "joy through the pain" kind of experience.  But for A, the pain comes at a time when he's too little to understand the joy that will come later.  All he'll understand is that his little world, that bright, cheery, safe room with the women who have cared for him for the vast majority of his life, will suddenly be gone.  And he'll be with strangers. People who don't even speak his language.  And then we'll fly him halfway across the world to a land where everything is different. Different sights, different sounds, different smells. How scary for a child.

Trust me, I am acutely aware of the pain of adoption for our little ones. Of course I don't want A to grow up in an orphanage and of course we are going to do our absolute best to be the best parents we can be for him. I just wish there was a way to do it without that pain.  I'd take the pain for him if I could.

When our visit was over, we went to Top View Restaurant - it's a restaurant near Entoto Mountain that has a great view of the city. We've heard it's better to go at sunset but it was so rainy we didn't think we'd get much of a sunset.  We took some good pictures & video from up there of all the city. I'm glad I'll have that to show A.
View of Addis from Top View Restaurant - see all that rain???

Then we headed up Entoto Mountain.  I almost might need to make this a completely new post!  If you're still reading, PLEASE keep reading. This is good stuff.  Important stuff. I promise.

Entoto Mountain is crazy. At the bottom, there are TONS of stalls with people selling everything from dresses (I saw one I was very tempted to stop the car & buy for myself!) to tomatoes.  And people walking all in the street. Donkeys everywhere.  I've never seen anything quite like it. We've been to Swaziland so coming to an African country wasn't quite as shocking to my eyes as maybe it could have been, but there are some distinct differences between Ethiopia and Swaziland (of course - since they're completely different countries!).

As we drove up Entoto Mountain, you'd see families walking back up after having come down to go to the market. Some carried their bundles, others had donkeys.  But what we saw most consistently were the women carrying firewood.

Do you see those two women? Yes, women. Be prepared to have your heart break.  They carry those GIANT bundles down the mountain EVERY DAY.  It takes 6 hours for them to walk down with those backbreaking bundles.  We spoke with someone who told us they stopped and offered to give one woman a ride and it took THREE men in their group to lift her bundle onto their truck.  THREE.  These women are not educated. Many do not have any other skills so carrying firewood down off the mountain is their only option for feeding their families. Yet this isn't really considered an actual job. Police harass them; I watched them being largely ignored by others either coming down or going up the mountain along with them.  It is incredible to me that after watching donkeys being used all over the city, that women would be carrying these giant loads down the mountain.  I don't understand it.

But why would I be surprised to find God is already doing something about it? Of course I'm not surprised.  God laid it on the heart of a woman whose grandchild is adopted from Ethiopia (from the same area & orphanage as our boy) to work with these women. Her name is Pam and her agency is called Connected in Hope. Please go check out the website.  They connected with the Former Women Fuel Carriers Association.  Women who used to carry firewood now come together and weave beautiful scarves and baskets.  Connected in Hope makes sure they have access to the raw materials they need in order to continue their work.  They are organizing and empowering these women to make changes in their lives.  They have hopes to continue this project and expand it.  We were blessed to meet with Hirut, the young woman who works with them a few days a week. And she told us the stories of the women. We met the women and got to have a coffee ceremony with them. They are incredible.  And you know what they thank God the most for? That someone respected them. That someone noticed them.  I can't tell you how highly they think of Pam and not because of anything monetary that she's doing for them (although there's a lot of that going on).  

If you've read this blog before, you've heard me say that poverty isn't a money problem, it's a relational problem. This is exactly that!  These women are being lifted from poverty NOT because someone is giving money to them.  It's because they're being respected and taught and given the power to change the course of their lives. Pam cared enough to get to know these women; to talk to them, to find out what they needed.  Hirut respects them, listens to them, advocates for them.  Amazing. THAT is how you fight poverty.

So... now that you know about the amazing women who used to carry firewood, you're just itching to know how you can get your hands on one of their beautiful scarves, right?  Oh good. Here you go: .  I bought several scarves while I was there.  They are BEAUTIFUL!  And knowing the hands who made them and what they've been through. And what each purchase means. It doesn't get any better than that.  Check out their website -the money from your purchase goes back to the women at Entoto Mountain AND does some other amazing things too!

And I happen to know they have LOTS of scarves and baskets already in the US. How do I know? We were blessed with the opportunity to bring them back!!! Remember all those humanitarian aide donations we brought over? God knew we'd have a whole bunch of empty suitcases to bring back to the US so He just decided he'd fill 'em up! :) They're already with Pam so I'm sure she's getting ready to get them up on the website.

Remember how I said I'd been up all night after the coffee ceremony? Oh yeah, it started to hit me as we headed to dinner. We ate at Sishu, this cool restaurant with a play area on the bottom level. It was probably the nicest, cleanest restaurant we went to and we had burgers & fries (the fries were REALLY good).  And Riley LOVED playing in the play area downstairs.  Me? I had trouble staying awake. I didn't even know Rob took this picture:

I honestly was falling asleep sitting right there!

Riley, however, was much more alert - check out our "knight in shining armor":
This place was so cool - everything was made from cardboard covered in plaster.
Went to bed the minute we got home that night since we had to be up early for court (or so we thought). There's your cliffhanger for the next blog post...  :)


  1. wonderful trip posts! Thanks for taking the time to log your experiences for those of us who have yet to travel!

  2. Love this, Kirsten! Thanks so much for bringing back the scarves helping us spread the word about these wonderful women. They are so worth it!!

    Ryane :)

  3. Great post. I saw the women of Entoto on a trip to Ethiopia in 2003 and was fascinated by their strength and resolve. With your permission, I'd like to post your picture of them carrying the firewood on our FB page along with a link to the organization which is getting involved.

    1. Yes! Please share their story! You may share the pictures from this page and the site for Connected in Hope is:


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