Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Face I Will Never Forget....Day 4

On Monday we headed out to an orphanage that was about 2-2.5 hours away from Addis. The countryside was beautiful and exactly what I had imagined Africa to look like. There were grass huts with thatch roofs, donkeys walking down the road with giant piles of hay or jugs of water on their backs, men plowing fields with oxen and wooden plows while the women washed their clothes in dirty pools of water, small children watching smaller children and/or livestock. We saw lots of bare feet .....and bare bottoms.

As we got closer to the orphanage little kids from the village ran along behind our vans because they recognized some of our team members from last year. Kelly (Putty) had visited this orphanage for the first time last year and had fallen in love with the kids in this village. She thought she had remembered about 20-30 kids from last year and wanted to clothe them on this trip. We had actually missed the turn off to the orphanage and one of the sweet little girls from the village ran along the road to show us how to get there. We arrived at the orphanage and the gates closed behind our vans. We met the children who lived there and they all gathered around to play soccer, do crafts, paint fingernails etc. I was helping the kids make tissue paper flowers and had a sweet little girl who attached herself to me. Her name was Mecca and she stood by my side the entire time. After a little while I realized that some of the kids in the gates were not actually from the orphanage but had snuck in to be with us. Mecca was one of those. Her clothes were dirty and torn and she was barefooted but she had the sweetest smile. Later she introduced me to her older sister Mora and her brother. I believe his name was Abram but I am not certain. We were getting ready to leave the orphanage and walk through the village and then we would pass out our donations to the village kids. I told this sweet family that if they would follow us I would give them shoes. They walked with me throughout the entire village. Mecca holding one hand and her brother holding the other. If they ever let go of my hand Mora would "fuss" at them in their language. She wanted to make sure they got the shoes that I had promised as both of the little ones were barefooted and she may as well have been. We came to a large open area where our guides had tried to gather the people from the village in a somewhat orderly manner so that we could hand out donations. What Kelly had thought may be 30 kids turned into 100+ men, women and children. It was hard to pass out donations orderly. There was pushing, shoving and snatching. It seemed the children listened better than the adults. Although it was frustrating I had to remind myself that these people have NOTHING and that if I was in the same situation and there were people there with things my kids needed, I would be doing all I could to get those things as well. They are desperate!! My sweet little friends got lost in the mix and eventually we had to load up our bags and go back inside the orphanage gates because things had just gotten too chaotic outside. As we walked back I saw them...and they were all still barefooted. Once inside the gates we tried to bring one child at a time inside. We would give them clothes and shoes and send them back out. I specifically asked that Mecca be brought inside so one of our guides got her and brought her. I was able to give her shoes and clothes and she left.  By this time we had about run out of donations and the people outside of the gates were starting to try to push their way in so we began to load up what was left into the vans. As we were loading up I looked up and Mora had pushed her way into the gates. There was a man inside the gate (not associated with Ordinary Hero) who was using a stick to hit her. The look on her face as I looked up is one that I will never forget. She was crying and fighting to try to get in, all the while the man was hitting her and pushing her back out of the gate. I called for Kelly P and asked her to please let her in. Kelly went and got her and brought her, still crying, inside. I took off the tennis shoes that I was wearing and gave them to her. I gave her a big hug and she left. She was desperate for a pair of shoes. Used shoes! I am still not sure if the little brother got shoes or not and it breaks my heart to think that I had promised him shoes and he may not have gotten any.  As we drove away the little kids ran along beside us again with huge grins on their faces waving as hard as they could. That little village definitely touched the hearts of the people in our group. OH is hoping to start a sponsorship program in the future to help those children with their basic needs and to send them to school. I look forward to sharing more about that with you in the future!!
 Donkeys along the side of the road.
 Our group touring the orphanage.
 Me and Mecca
 Village kids waiting outside of the gates.
 Making tissue paper flowers.
Me and the siblings.
A little bare bottom in the village.

1 comment:

  1. I love this story Ashley. She is beautiful!