My little guy is down for his nap, in his new bed with clean sheets and lots of soft stuffed animals surrounding him, and my thoughts turn once more to his homeland and the living conditions that we saw there. As a middle-class American, there is SO MUCH that I take for granted, and it was really good for me to see how so much of the rest of the world lives.
THIS is what many homes look like in Ethiopia - and I thought that MY house was small. This house was directly across the street from the front of the hotel, and it also served as a storefront of sorts. The woman squatting down in the second photo has a baby strapped to her back. We would frequently see 6-10 people crammed into a "house" like this.
There was so much trash everywhere. This pile was laying in the street just down a little from our hotel:
and this was what all of the gutters looked like - bits of clothing, packaging and who knows what lying in stagnant, smelly pools of water.
This is a picture Almaz leading us up the street that we walked to Hannah's Hope. There was this huge pile of rocks right in the middle, with a tiny path through them. Too bad if any vehicles had needed to get through. On our outings into the city, the driver frequently had to go well out of the way in order to find passable streets.
If there was a building being worked on, the scaffolding was made from rather rickety-looking wood. We saw this EVERYWHERE. David thought that we should title these photos "OSHA schmosha!"
Any building of any importance was gated and fenced to keep beggars away. The front of the hotel had a large gate with a couple of guards, and this view is from the back windows: walls and barbed wire separating us from a sea of corrugated tin houses.
There was livestock everywhere. We heard roosters crowing every morning, and we passed herds of goats on our way to Hannah's Hope. We saw cows wandering about hither and yon and wild dogs rooting through piles of trash.
This woman was living on the street with her two children. She darted through several lanes of crazy traffic to get to our bus to beg the "ferengi" for money, leaving her older daughter along the side of the road. One of the men on our bus handed 50 birr out of the window to her (a little under $4.50 in US dollars.) She was so overcome, she started kissing the money, crying and dancing in the street. She completely forgot to watch the traffic, and began to back up, bowing to the bus the whole time. She was nearly killed while her little girl watched - for just a few dollars, and yet that was probably enough to feed her family for more than a week. I can't imagine...I have frequently spent that much on one drink at Starbucks.
You couldn't walk outside at all without a group of small children approaching you to beg for money or food. They had this heartbreaking way of looking at you with pleading eyes while they slowly rubbed their stomachs and made a motion toward their mouths to mimic eating. When we would hand out the few granola bars in our backpack, they' d run off shouting joyfully, and more children would appear out of nowhere with their hands outstretched.
How much food do I throw away simply because it goes bad before I even have the chance to eat it? Why have I been so incredibly blessed? More importantly, since I HAVE been blessed, how does God intend for me to be used in His service? What changes can I make so that fewer people in the world are forced to beg strangers for a bite or two of food? How can I teach my new son to have compassion, and how do I keep him from becoming just another over-consumptive American - someone who has been given so much that they don't even begin to realize what they have?