Monday, February 01, 2010

The village elders decide the cost of 8 cows…

Today, Joseph had to travel back to the village where his vehicle hit and killed the one cow and injured seven others. The proceedings started out in the morning and I inquired several times during the day to see what was decided. It is interesting that he is responsible, since we were diving within the speed limit, on a public road and the herd was crossing at night without any visual warning. But when you think about it, we are the trespassers, building a road right through their pastures and their livelihood.

I was supposed to go to Nazret to visit the cattle ranch that Gladney set up for 10 of the young men who aged out of the Kolfe Boys Orphanage, but after the incident last night and being gone 16 hours, I just couldn’t bring myself to it. Eric, Susan, Melanie and I go with Belay to the Gladney Foster Care Centers to visit the children and caregivers. It is hard to leave, but we pull away to head for lunch at my favorite Chinese restaurant, the East Dragon. I hope I didn’t build it up to my guests too much, but I wanted Chef Eric to experience Chinese food in Ethiopia. It just sounds strange, doesn’t it? I think he enjoyed it, I know I did.

As we are eating, I get a call from Joseph and the elders decide he should pay 9,000 birr (around $850 USD) for the cattle, but since they slaughtered 7 of them, they give him 2,000 birr back. As he is driving back from the elder meeting with his friend, they drive by the scene of the accident where the dead cow still lays. Several vultures are there feasting on the carcass when one of the vultures flies up and strikes their windshield, totally smashing it. As he is telling me, he just seems defeated. He will find out tomorrow the cost of the damage to his vehicle in which the insurance expired two days before. I failed to mention that he is also still making payments on the vehicle.

After our meal, we are off to the government run orphanages and start with Kolfe Boys. When we arrive, the boys gather around and take us around their home. We see several familiar faces, the ones that most families want to support because they are so outgoing, but that is why we need to have our general scholarship fund because there are others who are very shy, but have such great potential. To highlight one of those boys, I want to introduce you to Daniel. Daniel is very small in stature, probably about 5’2” and always in the background when I would visit. I would try to talk to him, but either because his English was not very good or he didn’t understand my Texas accent, he just would not say much. He was one of the young men we sent to cooking school. They all studied very hard and passed the course and Daniel was one of the boys we saw working this morning at the Gladney Foster Care Center who is cooking for the children in our care. He came up to me with the biggest smile looking the part in his chef jacket. Gladney and our donors have changed another life. I love my job!

We leave the boys and head to Kechene Girls Orphanage where I end up in the infant room holding a crying baby, trying to comfort her. As I am walking around the room noticing many of the beds doubled up with babies, I notice a little guy who is very sick and lethargic. I am trying to ask the caregiver if he has been seen by a doctor when Belay walks in. I can’t tell you how worried I was for this sick baby. Belay asked the director and she said they didn’t have the money to take him to the hospital, so Belay, Eric, Susan, Tsega (the baby), his caregiver and I head off to the hospital. There is no one in the waiting room, but we continue to wait for over an hour. I later find out that the doctor was on her way in a taxi. If you are wondering why a hospital would not have a physician there 24 hours as day, it is because that is the reality as the doctor shortage continues to impact this country. After several tries, they finally get an IV of glucose and antibiotics pumping into his little body. As we leave the hospital, I am once again reminded of how Belay’s days are planned out, but many times take a totally different path. Did I mention flexibility is the key to sanity here?


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