Ethiopia: A powerful trip
It’s been a week since I returned from Ethiopia. Yet my mind and heart keeps returning there.
I’ve been asked repeatedly how my trip went and I honestly don’t know how to answer that question.
People want to hear that it was a “good” trip but how do you define a trip as good when you’ve been rocked by the sights of desperate poverty and overwhelming hardships. I’ve resorted to describing the trip as powerful.
We saw more than children waiting for their forever families in orphanages. We saw street boys so hungry for food that they were sniffing gasoline to stop the hunger pangs, naked beggars, mothers begging on the street for food for their children, one mother trying to breast feed the older of two small children with woefully dried up breasts. We heard story after story about how HIV and poverty has impacted families, how mothers are left sick and responsible for the care of their children after their husbands leave, how little families live on (it’s hard not to think of how we so frivolously spend that same sum in the US) and from mothers desperately trying to keep from having to put their children into an orphanage.
I’ve gone on similar mission/service trips in the past and a piece of my heart has always remained behind. This trip is similar but different. Similar in that I feel in with specific kids that I could see in my family. This is a familiar feeling. I come home and try to convince my husband that our family really needs one more. Just one more! He is staring at retirement a little closer than I am and just doesn’t think our family needs to expand. I’ve long since learned to respect that for the sake of our marriage. But that doesn’t stop me from trying after each trip.
But this trip is different because adopting a child isn’t an option. Days after we returned home, the Ethiopian Parliament voted to ban all foreign adoptions. It was a devastating blow for the children in orphanages, families hoping to adopt and adoption agencies who have invested in the country.
I’m left with what next? A missionary stationed in Ethiopia told me she had HOPE for Ethiopia even with this devastating news. Hope that more humanitarians will step in and hope that these children will remain in Ethiopia as important citizens. Hearing that from someone who has given up the comforts of the US to live in Ethiopia was comforting to me and further drove the desire to return to Ethiopia to do more.
Will you join us? Ethiopia is a beautiful country and the people you will meet are lovely. Your heart will be captured immediately. The need is great and huge and desperate. We must continue to return, to serve, to see where we can make a difference and to continue to show love to our Ethiopian friends.
Also consider joining the Ethiopia City Kids program, learn more about how just $20 a month can help a family stay together.
-Gretchen Fricke, One Orphan Ethiopia Team Leader