Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 6: Shopping Day!

If you haven't read the first few days, scroll down! :)

Day 6, the day before our last day in the country, we got up early and wanted to get as much done as possible. Knowing that Eric would be back soon and could pick up any souvenirs we missed was a comfort so we didn't feel too rushed to get everything.

We hired a driver named Gimra to take us shopping on Churchill street in the morning. We expected that he would just wait in the car, but he came with us and helped tell us if the prices were too high. He also insisted on carrying our bags for us. Even though the street was crowded with people, we were the only white people, and when we got out of the car all the shop owners started calling to us to come to their shop. We started checking off our list of souvenirs we wanted to get for ourselves and for family and friends. After spending time with Little Boy, we realized that the size 4 traditional outfit we got him was too big, (he’s maybe an inch taller than Vivi and only a little wider), so we got a smaller one, a dress for me, a drum for Little Boy and rag dolls for Jenavieve and Journey, some really cool paintings on goat skins of biblical scenes, an Ethiopian style wooden cross, an Ethiopian flag (that a guy tried to charge us $20 for-we kept telling him no until he finally let us have it for $12, which we thought was fair enough), jewelry, scarves. I love that the people in the paintings look Ethiopian, which is more historically accurate than the blond haired, blue eyed art you can find in America. Gimra took us to a shop with just a walk up window that sold good berebere, Ethiopia’s famous spice mix. Then he took us to Tivoli, an American style restaurant. The food was very very good! Eric got a ridiculously spicy soup and a chicken burger with fries, and I got curry teriyaki chicken with rice. We also got some more of their thick, strong coffee, mmm!

We went back to the guest house for a little rest before calling for a ride to visit Journey. All of our usual guys were busy so we called another guy from the agency approved list, Ermias. While driving, he informed us that he is not just a driver, he is also a tour guide. He pointed out a lot of buildings and landmarks along the way. Another little thing about Addis is that you are not allowed to take pictures of any government building, including the presidential palace, court house, and police station. Ermias said it is for protection. The funny thing is though that everything has a big wall around it, so even if you did take a picture, you couldn’t see anything.

When we got to Journey’s orphanage, we were surrounded by the usual group of kids as we made our way up to the baby room. Journey was sitting in a crib with some other babies, and her face lit up when she saw us. I picked her up and she smiled at all 3 of us, which was so sweet! The nanny took her and changed her diaper and washed her face, then gave her back and we went outside to play. Sister Joan of Ark, the European nun who speaks English very well, saw us and came over to ask how court went. She was so happy that we passed. She told us that usually once a child passes court, they get moved to Layla house, our agency’s main orphanage, so that it’s easier to keep track of them and so that if they need to take them somewhere, they don’t have to drive the 20 minutes out. Journey is well known at the orphanage because she has been there for so long and is so sweet. Even the gate guards knew her name and she smiled really big at them. It must be bittersweet for them to see her go,

Sister Joan of Ark also shared her concerns with us about MOWA (ministry of women’s affairs) trying to slow down adoptions to prevent fraud. They cut down drastically the amount of cases they are processing each day-we just squeaked in before this happened-and the sister said that their goal is to stop international adoptions from Ethiopia. She said she doesn’t want to think about what would happen then, and she fears for the children because they need families, not an institutionalized life. We all hope it doesn’t come to that, that they can figure out a better way to prevent fraud.

Another family from our agency is waiting for a court date for 2 kids at this orphanage and asked us to check on them for us. I asked Sister Joan of Ark about them and she brought them out to play with us. We got a lot of pictures and spent enough time with them to know a little bit of their personalities. I’m so excited to be able to share that with their family while they wait.

After they went back to play with kids their own age, Vivi was hungry, so we sat down for a snack. I set Journey on the table, holding on to her because although she can sit, I still wasn’t sure how stable she was. She watched Vivi eating, then suddenly put her arms out on the table and started crawling! The table was small, so I took her over to the big porch and set her down in crawling position to see what she would do. Sure enough, she took off! It wasn’t in her paperwork that she could crawl, and the first day we just held and cuddled her, it never occurred to us that she might be a crawler. Another thing was that her paperwork said she has cerebral palsy, and another American who saw her said she didn’t know if that was true, but that her legs were pretty stiff. This could have been a true delay, or just a delay from being in an orphanage and not getting a lot of chance to use her legs. But watching her crawl, she didn’t seem to have any problems at all. We will see when she gets home.

Our visit with her went by so fast, and it was this day that we realized how hard it was going to be to leave her for an unknown amount of time. Having met the nannies at all 3 orphanages, they are all wonderful and we know she will be in good hands, but it will still be hard.

Ermias drove us by some more places he thought we should see, and made sure we were able to get pictures of the war memorial of those who died when the Italians invaded, and the big lion of Judah statue. He took us to a place with good whole bean coffee to buy, which pretty much finished our shopping list. We came back to the guest house, walked down to the shop to get a coke (which costs about 25 cents), and saw a herd of cows walking down the road. Vivi enjoyed mooing at them. Then it was time for dinner-spaghetti with boiled cabbage and bread.

After dinner, Abraham picked us up again to take us to see Little Boy. When we walked into the room, he ran up to Eric with a big grin and gave him a huge hug. He has definitely started forming a bond to him, but I think it will take him a little while to bond to me. Little Boy's 2 closest friends, Abebaw and Tariku, started posing for pictures right away. There are more boys than girls there, and all the little boys loved Eric. They even organized their own group shot on Eric’s lap, calling their friends into the picture, putting their arms around each other and saying cheese. One of the families I had emailed with before our trip came to see their little boy and we talked for awhile, which was nice. The nannies, despite carrying for kids all day every day, really enjoy playing with the kids and were going out of their way to play with Vivi so we could have some one on one time with Little Boy. They were hugging and kissing her, and they know she loves babies so they kept showing her the babies. She saw one nanny drinking tea and said “hot tea! Hot tea!” the nanny went out and got her her own cup of hot tea. The patience and love they have for kids is just remarkable. There are times when Vivi is especially whiny and clingy that I can’t wait for Eric to get home so I can get a break. These nannies are always holding someone, and seem happy to do it. They are such a blessing to these kids while they wait for families!

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