We had breakfast at our guesthouse and drove about 30 minutes to the foster care center our adoption agency runs for our 1st visit with our daughter! The weather was gorgeous, mostly sunny for the first few days of our trip, then it got more rainy and the temperature was in the 60s and 70s -- such a wonderful change from the 100 degree days we were having back home in Texas!
Everyone drives with their windows down in Ethiopia, mostly because there is no A/C in the vehicles, but the problem with this is that there is a lot of traffic and Ethiopia is obviously not on board with the clean-burning fuels, so there was a lot of breathing in exhaust fumes throughout the trip. But, I still always enjoyed the drives, just so much to see!
My 5 year old daughter loved all the animals, like these horses that came right up to our car window. In Addis Ababa cars share the roads with cows, goats, horses, etc. Our driver thought it was funny that my daughter thought the animals were so adorable and always loved seeing them. In Ethiopia animals are more of a means of survival or work rather than thought of as cute or pets!
And then we were there, standing at the very gate of the foster care center!
The care center is in a regular, actually pretty nice, Ethiopian neighborhood. The only give-away that it isn't just a normal house -- all the tiny clothes drying on the line outside.
We walked into the toddler room where our daughter lives and there she was! The kids and nannies were all sitting on a rug in a sea of toys and our little girl was clutching the pink puppy we'd sent to her with another family (remember the puppy from this post?). I loved that she was holding that puppy!
We sat down on the floor near the children and began to talk to them (in a language they didn't understand), play toys, and take pictures. It took her just a few short minutes to make her way over to us (she didn't know we were her family, still doesn't, we don't think). She went to my husband first. He was sitting with a little boy on his lap, a precious boy built just like a little linebacker, so solid and with the most adorable dimples! That little boy had claimed my husband's lap first, but that didn't matter to our little girl, she just joined him in the lap.
I got my turn to hold her shortly after; she was so sweet and friendly! At one point she picked up a dinosaur toy and said, "Dinosaur". I exclaimed, "She's speaking English!" And my husband replied, "Or it's the same word in Amharic." Turns out that was true! We asked someone later.
At one point I was standing and she wanted me to pick her up. As I lifted her and hugged her I thought, "Okay, let's just not wait 3 months to bring you home; let's just go now." Of course, that's not an option or we totally would in a heartbeat!
Someone brought in a scale and measuring board to get the kids heights and weights, so the nannies began quickly stripping the kids clothes to weigh them. It was amazing how well most of the kids did at dressing themselves back. We helped a little with shoes and socks. A little one I really thought was a boy brought me some black patent Target brand ballerina flats to put on him -- they don't really seem to worry about gender specific clothes there, one day a for sure boy was wearing pink pants!
My 8 year old son and the little linebacker boy had fun racing cars and trucks back and forth. Then the little boy gathered every single car and truck from the whole room and lined them all up in one long, straight line -- so cute and smart!
The kids really liked looking at themselves on our camera screen. It was precious to see them point to their picture on the camera screen and then point to themselves!
Our little girl loved being turned upside down and giggled the most adorable giggles while upside down.
When our hour was up and it was time to leave, I hugged her and put her down. She immediately reached her little arms up to be picked up again. I couldn't help it, I scooped her right back up. I carried her over to the rug where the kids were gathering for snack and sat her down. I helped put the bibs on several children and then as I attempted to leave again, I realized she was holding onto my shoe laces! Thankfully, it was just that 1st day that she made it so hard to leave her because at least then I could leave knowing I had two more visits coming up!
We left the foster care center and immediately headed to the Korah area to meet up with our friend who is doing mission work there in that community situated around a large trash dump. I know our driver must have thought we were nuts when we had him drive us to that bad part of town (some taxis won't even drive in) and when our friend walked up we hugged her tight and looked at the driver and said, "Come back and get us in about 4 hours." I'm sure he thought we were completely crazy Americans and had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. But, our friend took care of us, she knows the area well now, and I really never felt endangered.
We had lunch and then went to the church to meet the pastor our friend volunteers with, we saw the offices and classrooms for Transformation Love
and then accompanied our friend and the pastor on a home visit for one of the children in their sponsorship program. It was something to sit with an HIV+ mom and her little girl who just finished kindergarten, like our oldest daughter, in their mud hut smaller than our closet and pray with them! They are able to get food and the little girl is able to go to school due to a sponsorship program through Transformation Love.
Below is the outside of their house. In the back some of the mud wall was caving in, the mom said water came in whenever it rained.
As we walked the streets of Korah, children approached us, happy to see us, thrilled to hold our hands, and try out their English. We got used to being a spectacle just for being white and had to explain to our kids, they are staring and watching you because they are not used to seeing children who look like you do.
When our driver picked us up he asked if we wanted to go to the silk factory, which was on the sightseeing the agenda for the day for our travel group. We thought we'd have to miss it since we wanted to meet up with our friend in Korah, little did we know the silk factory was really, really close to Korah, so we got to see it afterall! Here are the worms that make the silk thread:
By then we were exhausted and stopped off at Kaldi's (Ethiopian version of Starbucks, only better). My husband and I both got a macchiato - so yummy - and the kids got chocolate milk shakes the deemed the best milk shakes they'd ever had!
We went back to the guest house to change out of our muddy clothes (did I mention it was super muddy in Korah?) before meeting our travel group for dinner at the Diplomat Restaurant, where they had the best public restrooms we saw the entire trip -- toilet paper and a toilet seat!