Saturday, April 24, 2010

Left Behind and From the Field

Well, I did not make it to Ethiopia and it truly saddens me. Due to the volcano in Iceland, flights were disrupted around the world and a group of 8 flying stand by without disruptions of ant sort is hard. The volunteers were able to make it out on 3 waves and our new VP and a veteran volunteer were part of the second wave.

Muday, being the wonderful person she is, left me no doubt that everyone would be taken of so I felt completely at ease sending everyone on ahead of me.I have complete confidence things are going well and this has been confirmed through my phone conversations and email.

While I know I am not the keystone of Friends of Fresh and Green, the organization and work we do is my passion and, I feel, my life's purpose. One of the great joys I receive from doing what I do is seeing how people react on their first visit to the school. Kathleen, our new VP has been so excited and full of energy for this trip and has had so many of the same expectations I had before my first trip. I was hoping to blog and send pictures just as she was, and she too has discovered that is next to impossible in our situation there.
One thing I can do to help on my end is post a blog for her. So the following blog is a portion of a heart warming email from Kathleen. I had bitter sweet feelings reading it for the first time. I has so many of the same feelings I had my first time and reading it made me miss everyone so much, and I am so very sad that I didn't get there this time. But I am happy beyond belief Kathleen and the rest have been so touched and Kathleen paints the picture that is "our Ethiopia" so well.


Hi Friends and Family!

Well, I've learned that "blogging" from Ethiopia is a bit of a pipe dream -- electricity is off unpredictably and all Internet is dial-up. So pics will have to wait until I get home and updates will have to come via email or Facebook.

I've been thinking all day how to describe the indescribable. Rainy season has started, and we are close to the Equator -- so ... when it rains, it really rains.

Today we visited an "average" family home, one like most of our students live in when they are not at the school. Eleven people sleep/live/eat in a room about 6' x 6' -- four tin corrugated walls and a tin corrugated roof -- no electricity or plumbing, rocky dirt floor, the 3 foot wide, rock-strewn path is both entry and sewer. The rain on the roof drowns out all noise and you have to shout just to talk to the person who is six inches away from you.

The school is truly an oasis, a haven for the students where they can get fed three decent meals a day, get an education and medical help when needed. We took one of the student's brothers to the hospital today, he'd been having stomach pains for five days. No money = just tough it out in Addis Ababa.

It really opened my eyes to just how vital it is to keep the school up and running and to keep the Mother's Cooperative going. It's the only thing that allows the siblings who aren't in our school to get fed.

I worked with the moms today, making some new jewelry projects -- eyeglass holders and watch bands. Now, having seen how they live, I think -- they don't even know what these things are, nor would they have any use for them if they did.

"Stuff" -- these people don't have nick-knacks, their children don't have toys, not everyone on the house even has a blanket to sleep under much less a mattress.

It's truly a different world, and experiencing it firsthand has changed me forever.

Muday, the woman who started and runs Fresh and Green Academy, is a beautiful, energetic, dynamic woman with an amazing vision: to lift these people up and ... I have to say, it is working.

I can't wait to share my pictures with all of you.

Lest you think my trip has been totally dismal, I have to let you know that it's been just the opposite. The people are amazing -- so generous, wanting to offer you tea and hospitality, sharing the little they have. The children are bright and funny, constantly hugging and giving kisses. AND ... my fellow volunteers are the icing on the cake: dedicated, lovely people who could spend their vacation going anywhere in the world, and they come here. And man, do they make me laugh!! We are constantly cracking up, sharing stories, laughing, it's really a blast. That may seem hard to believe but it's true!

OK, I've gone on for quite awhile now, and who knows when the electricity will go off, so I'll sign off for now. If all goes as planned, I will be back in the US on Sunday. But believe me, I plan to come back in August and I know I will miss this place in the meantime. It just gets into your soul.

Love and hugs,

Monday, April 19, 2010

On our Way!

We have been trying to get to Ethiopia since Friday, today is Monday, things beyond our control have postponed us. The volcano that erupted on Thursday prevented us from going through Europe on Friday so we came to Washington DC on Saturday and 3 of the volunteers got out. Two of our volunteers rushed to actually get out through Israel on Thursday. So there are 3 of us here at the airport hoping and praying to get on the flight this morning.

There was no flight on Sunday so we were able to enjoy a day in DC and took in a museum. I love my job as a flight attendant and all the perks that go along with it but there is a huge down side to all that free travel. Stand by can be brutal! I can handle it, but when I bring loved ones into the picture I feel responsible, though I know I am not, I can't help but take on the stress. That is my nature.

I am so grateful that most of the volunteers are already there and I can relax in knowing Muday is taking good care of them.

We are saying all the prayers we can, and hope to be with the children in about 20 hours!
Please send out the positive energy!