This morning we walked up to Kaldi’s coffee ( a very good knock off to Starbucks….even down to the trademark green sign) to meet Mr. Dawit who was driving us down to Nazareth to visit his schools. While we were waiting for him I took Noah up to the counter to see if there was anything he wanted, thinking a pastry or something. He exchanged conversation with one of the waitresses and I decided a guava juice would be perfect for him. So we sit down…and soon three blended smoothies arrive at our table. Hmmmmmm…Cindy and I look at each other and then the waitress and tell her we didn’t order anything for ourselves but I had ordered a single guava juice for Noah. Ok, so the waitress takes the two drinks away. Soon she arrives back with a giant hamburger and a plate of fries. I looked at the waitress and said…”we didn’t order this”…she looked at me and said, “he did” gesturing to Noah. The conversation Noah had with the waitress that I thought was idle chit-chat…he was ordering a hamburger and fries for himself AND drinks around the table for Cindy and I. So what should have been a simple 5 birr tab turned into a 37 birr table tab…still extremely cheap as all of that cost about $3.50 in US dollars. As ‘cute’ as it was I had to reprimand him…and the tears did not go over well with the waitresses as they stood by with evil eyes for the remainder of the time it took for Noah to finish his burger. ANYWAY….we got out of dodge quickly when Mr. Dawit arrived.
We drove south of Addis to Nazareth. He and his wife have dedicated their lives to educating the poorest of the poor children in that community. They have opened up two schools in the community, the English Alive Academy. Most of the children are there through sponsorships. Our first stop was a school for Pre K- 2nd grade. The children were in line washing up for snack time when we arrived. After snack they had playtime. It was during this time that we got to play with them…take pictures of them and show them on the digital screen of the camera…and just laugh with them. They were soooo cute and so happy to be in school. At the first school we visited there were 83 children in a school building and yard that would equal about 2 classrooms in size. After play time they went back to their classrooms. We had brought candy for them so Noah went into each classroom and handed out candy. He was very proud of the chance to share the candy. He really enjoyed playing with the kids as well.
Here’s today’s defining moment with Noah: We are in the ‘library’ (which consists of maybe 75 books for 83 children) when Noah comes running in. He asks for his blue bag that has all of his crayons. I get it out for him and he takes it to the 1st grade classroom and hands out all of his special crayons and colored pencils to the students in that classroom. I didn’t tell him to. He did it on his own. So there is my son…with nothing really to call his own except for the clothes on his back only days before…taking his new pencils and crayons and handing them out to someone who needs them more. A very proud moment for this new mom.
Next we traveled to the school for older children…2-4th grade but the students were as old as 13. Mr. Dawit had told us about one little girl who is a student in this school. Her name is Hana. Hana’s parents are both dead of AIDS and she had been living by herself since their death. Hana is 8 years old. Hana is HIV-positive. The neighbors told Mr. Dawit about Hana and he took her into his school. After school he believes she is taken care of by neighbors. We met Hana and yes, she does look sick but for 6 hours a day she can be the little girl she should be among the children of Mr. Dawit’s school. Cindy and I are hopeful in talking to Mr. Teklu about Hana in the hopes that he may advocate for her to enter the AHOPE orphanage where she can get proper medicine for her HIV. It would be a dream if she could eventually be advocated for adoption but first she must get her health back and so tomorrow we talk to Teklu.
Today I was hugged, kissed, and touched by 136 children in the poorest of the poor region of Ethiopia. By the end of the day Cindy and I conceded that there will be a ‘fungus among-us’ but how could you not be touched, both physically and emotionally by these children. I think we both agree as well that a piece of our hearts will forever be in beautiful little oasis of learning on the edge of the Great Rift Valley.