When you come to Ethiopia with money in your pocket it is very easy to feel wealthy here. To give you some idea of the cost of things 100 birr equals about $7.00. For example at lunch today: 3 large pizzas and five cokes at Happy Pizza was about $11.00. I was very thankful for Happy Pizza. In broken English the owner asked us if our meal â€œmade us feel like his trademark, then pointed to his logo….happy,â€ and it did. It was the closest thing I have had to American food all week.
It is so hard eating until you are full when people are starving just feet away from you. I wanted to invite everyone in and have them eat with us but the owners discourage the beggars because they are bad for business, so I made sure we saved a couple slices and gave them to a little girl I had seen many times begging in the street.
The irony of the situation is giving money to the street people of Ethiopia doesnâ€™t solve the problem. It makes you feel better about yourself but the key to real change is education and development. That is what World Vision is about and when you sponsor a child you not only help that child but you also help their community. It really is that old adage of: Give a man a fish he eats for a day but teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime. While we are on the subject of fish I do not recommend the Ethiopian fish goulash, it stays with you.
As our trip was winding down we had the opportunity to go to a local market and buy stuff to bring home, and yes, Betty Rock, I got you something; she always asks.
At the market I did not pay over 200 birr for anything, so $14.00, including your gift, Betty Rock. It is odd to be bargaining with someone over 10 birr which sounds like a lot but you have to remind yourself itâ€™s less than 85 cents. After a while I thought what am I doing? So I started shopping for the sport of it. I would negotiate the price down to see how low I could get it, but then surprise them and pay their asking price. Maybe that combined with helping a guy put a hundred pound bag of flour back on his back after he fell, will earn me an extra jewel for my crown. Of course Zach has no picture of me being a market place humanitarian and helping that guy, but he did manage to get me using the Ethiopia men’s room; nice work Zach
I am not sure if that meant we do not have guns: donâ€™t attack us or we are unarmed: take what you want.
And introducing him to Twizzlers.
He is my new African brother and I know I left my mark on him too. I know this cause I taught him how to play Slug bug. They are everywhere here.
You take for granted how easy it is to explain the game of slug bug when there is a language barrier. It took a few times of me hitting him, and him looking confused to get it, but when he caught on, he got quite good at it. He is now even teaching slug bug to the other World Vision staff. Like I said earlier, education is the key to success.
For me these trips are about Seeing the work of World Vision first hand, spreading the word so as to get as many kids sponsored as I can, and reaffirming in my own life the importance of taking care of â€œthe least of These.â€ That message starts at my own home. Before each trip I take, I ask my daughter to give me something special of hers to give away to a special child in the field. I want her to see the joy that her simple act of kindness brings to a child who has less than nothing halfway around the world, in the hopes she will continue to think of, and help others as she grows up. I think Hailleâ€™s kitty went to a good home.
So to watch a kid get to be a kid, even if just for a moment is a very special thing for me.
I have very mixed emotions as I head home today. Africa, and these people leave their mark on your soul. That is why I am so passionate about helping them. They are a beautiful, amazing, giving people, who even in the midst of their own struggle for life take time to help each other. They work harder in a day than most of us do in a month and they are not here because of something they did. The only difference between us and them is we happened to be born in a place where we have opportunity and hope; two of the things they lack, but we can provide. I was amazed as we passed out toys, sadly not having enough for all, they waited patiently and politely. There is almost a sense of, they know how tough life is and are happy for someone else when they get a treat. I always try to bring toys like Frisbees, that a group of kids can play with.
Through education, parents are learning it is important for their kids to not only be able to play a little, but also go to school. That is happening thanks to World Vision and people that care enough to sponsor these children.
We got to visit a school funded by World Vision, that was packed with kids eager to learn. It certainly doesnâ€™t look like our classrooms in America. In fact, all they have in the room is a blackboard and benches. Many of these kids want to grow up to be teachers themselves or doctors. They donâ€™t aspire to be professional athletes or movie stars. They want to gain the education that will enable them to help their people. That is what we are trying to do, help them become self sufficient.
I wish I could stay here but I know that is not the answer, plus I miss my girls so much!
I know I can do more for these children by spreading the word and using the platform God has given me to help change their lives forever. I want to help get them clean water so they do not have to drink dirty water from the streets.
That is what I intend to do with all my heart This Wednesday and Thursday as we get the kids of Ethiopia sponsored.
So as I board a plane and head back to my cushy life….
I am cognizant of the people, families, and kids I am leaving behind. People who, without our help will become just more faceless numbers on a world poverty report. To me they are not numbers. They are people who are suffering and dying. I cannot fathom, as a father, looking into my daughters eyes and telling her there is no food today. Perhaps what is sadder than that is it doesnâ€™t have to happen. We, who have been blessed with so much should refuse to do so little.