Saturday, January 30, 2010

Off to Gunchire and Kidmia…

I am up early as we are planning to leave for Gunchire around 7:30 am. Aschalew is very prompt as he, Abel (an employee of Kidmia) and Joseph (our driver) arrive on time. We head for the Ghion to pick up Melanie Tam and then we are off, … we are off, I said we are…. waiting in traffic for about 45 minutes just to get out of Addis. Joseph is driving a 4 wheel drive to navigate the roads once we get about 2 hours outside of the city when we hit the 1 ½ hours of dirt roads to get to our destination. This is all fine and good, but no air conditioning, which means the windows down, which means sitting in exhaust as you wait. Oh well, it is only a distant memory now, cough, cough, hack, spit.

Since we are on the road for so long, we get to learn more about our fellow travelers. Joseph is early 30’s with a new baby boy that is 6 months old, Abel is late 20’s who is single, and Aschalew is a charismatic mid to late 30’s with a wife, Hirut and 4 year old son, Fikir. We enjoy our ride as we dodge sheep, goats, dogs, donkeys, people, taxis, trucks, it feels like we are part of a video game trying to not hit or be hit by anything. We finally arrive at the Kidmia Mahiber Transitional Care Center and are greeted by Tesfaye, the Director. He shows us around the beautiful 12 acre grounds; the tract of land where they had just harvested the wheat, the chicken coup with 30 or so chickens, the two cows, the horse for the cart which is used to make trips to the village… it is all pretty amazing. The most amazing thing though was seeing the children and how well they are doing. Aschalew was telling me that the local government is very pleased with the work that Kidmia is doing and really like the concept, because there are none other in the southern region like it. It is a holistic ministry whose purpose is to transition the children into their birth families by providing a sustainable means to raise them (giving chickens or sheep to raise so they can be sold and the proceeds used to feed, clothe and care for their children). If the biological families are deceased, then a local family from the church will step forward to adopt the child using the same sustainability model. The third option is international adoption (through a agency other than Gladney, of course, because that would not look appropriate with my involvement in both). And lastly, to improve the conditions of their home so that when they do stay there, they are loved, nutured, well cared for, etc.

We spent too much time there, but it was hard to leave. We got on the road and it started getting dark. Remember those objects I mentioned we were dodging on our way there? Well this is what happened:


Yes, we hit a herd of cattle around 7:00 pm. It was a miracle no one was hurt, but the damage was one dead cow and 7 other injured. This was in the middle of the countryside, cell coverage in and out, local villagers coming out of the woodwork – total pandemonium. There were two boys herding the cattle and I think they saw the vehicle coming so they tried to rush them across the highway. Joseph was driving very safely around 45 mph, otherwise it could have been more serious. Joseph, thought he might have hit the boys and literally got sick on the side of the road. The local militia finally showed up about the time Solomon and Belay came to pick us all up. The vehicle was impounded, and we were finally on our way home three hours later. What a close call, I slept the best since I have been here that night.

More to come….


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