Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day Four: Living in a Dream

Duni had given us a real treat when she said that she wanted to take us to the site of where Kids Care wanted to build an elementary school. Duni had informed us that we were going there after we had finished filling out the massive amount of paperwork that morning at Kaldis Coffee Shop (Addis's version of Starbucks and if you are ever there get a juice spritz as it is DEVINE) in order to be prepared for our embassy appointment the next day. I have to say that when she first told us that we were going to the location, I was not so thrilled. Look at land? Really? I had no idea of the treat we were in for. The location is a little village (or suburb if you will) just outside of Addis. Currently, they have a kindergarten and early childhood complex that educates toddlers and 5 year olds. If a family wants their child to get an education past this age, then they have to commit to walking an hour each way to school. It isn't too hard to figure out that the need for a school here is huge. The school is painted in a bright aqua green and although it looks dilapidated, it somehow speaks out of its cheerfulness. The school was on break this week, so when we take a tour we find vacant rooms. The school is surrounded by a gate and children had started to accumulate outside its borders as curiosity takes the better of them. There were two little girls by the gate that caught my eye, and I signal to them that I would like to give them a piece of gum. Unlike the shopping experience a few days before, when the other children saw me do this, they did not run and try to get a piece too. I took it that they didn't want a piece but later realize that shyness was the culprit. At about this time Duni leads the group to the plot of land about 50 to 100 feet away from the early childhood complex that will be the location of the new school. By then we have quite the following of children, teenagers and even some adults from the village who are curious of our visit. The land is large and flat with not much grass our any type of plant or tree growth. To tell you the truth, I was having a hard time focusing on the school site as there was a small group of boys that looked like they were around 10-12 years old that stayed a close proximity of my side. I guess it was because they noticed I was carrying a cup of juice (the delicious juice spritz from Kaldis) that was almost gone that caught their attention. One of them points to the cup and says "juice?". I hand it to him and he takes a few quick steps back and immediately inhales quickly from the straw. He did this so fast that he made a huge slurping noise which caused him embarrassment and the other boys to crack up in laughter. I couldn't help but giggle myself. It reminded me of the kids I see everyday at school and how they too are quick to be embarrassed and giggle at small embarrassing moments. As we strolled back to our car, Duni asks one of two girls that are walking hand in hand their names and ages. The older was 12 (she really looks about 9) and the younger was a 5 year old student at the kindergarten building. Duni has a small conversation with them in Amharic and finds out the 12 year old indeed makes the hour long trek each day to and from school. Duni also coaxes the younger child to sing a song she learned in school. It had to be the sweetest melody my ears had ever heard. The little girl was very apprehensive about doing it, but visible strength took over her as she belted out the tune she probably had sung so many times before. The group roared in applause and praise when she was finished, and a huge smile envelopes the little girl's countenance as she lifts her head with pride. Duni explained that she sang a song about a naughty monkey who stole a banana, got in trouble for it, and then vows never to do it again. How precious was that? We ended our visit with sharing more gum with the children and waves goodbye. As the van pulled away, children continued to wave frantically and run along the side and back of the van. I kept my position facing the back of the van until all the children were out of sight. I had settled two things in my mind as we pulled away. One, I wanted to be a part of the building of this school, and two, I was going to choose to be as happy as these children who seemingly have nothing.

We then made a hour long journey to a restaurant and hotel called Dream Land. Again, I was wondering about how worth it would it be to take two hours of our precious time from Addis to visit this place, and again I was proven that I had no idea what I was talking about. Dream Land is situated at the top of what I can only describe as a bowl. In the pit of the bowl is a huge and vast lake. Evidently a volcano had made this lake and 3 others nearby that were very similar to the one we were visiting. The restaurant facilities are mostly outdoors. When you take your first step outside the indoor area of the restaurant, you can see for miles and feel as though you are on top of a mountain. Downward stairs lead to a lookout area patio. The drop from the patio to the lake was quite steep and the distance to the other side of the lake was vast. The images and scenery I was viewing were absolutely breath taking. With our zoom lens on our camera, we were able to see children swimming in the lake and herdsmen leading their flock for a drink. It had to be one of the most beautiful images I have ever seen.

As beautiful as it was at Dream Land, there were other thoughts pending my mind. Today was a historical day in the Blackwell family as it was the day that Rae would be taken to her forever home. So once again we made our way back to the transition home, and crossed through those magnificent silver doors. Rae was a lot quicker to come to Kevin and I on this day. We tried asking lots of questions about her to the nannies and get as much information about caring for her as possible. We also spent as much time as possible with the other children and babies that were waiting for their families to come. I really did not know but a handful of children and who they belonged to, but between the three families that were there, we made sure that every child got some attention and love. I do know that I cuddled and loved on baby Martin and Kulp. They were both such good and sweet babies. I also played with the Hall's little guy. He is something else!! He loves attention and is very social!!! I think I spent the most time with A. Semlow. She is such a spunky little sweetie. Wherever I went, she made sure she was within a short distance of my side, and if I didn't have anyone else in my arms, then she made sure that my arms weren't vacant for long. By the end of our visit, we were having kissing wars!! I so hope that she and her brothers are able to go to their forever home soon!!! Leaving the transition home was very emotional and bittersweet for all of the families. Nannies were saying their cheerful goodbyes to our children, but all we could think was that our children were leaving the only place they had ever known.

We all spent the remaining of the our evenings in our own rooms. Kevin and I tried to make the evening for Rae as comfortable and fun as possible. She was very somber and sweet. She ate, looked at books, tried on her new shoes several times, and stayed close to my lap at all times. Kevin and I could not get over the miracle that was in our midst. It didn't seem possible that she was finally in our care.


Tara said...

what an incredible story, so excited for your new family, we hope to get a referral any day now and hopefully in ethiopia this summer, by the way your an excellant writer, it's like reading a book, many blessings to you and your family, tara

Sherry said...

Kelly - I am loving reading your story and seeing your pictures. It does sound like an absolute dream. Of course I cried when I read about your sweet times with my precious A. Thank you for loving on her. I can tell she is sooo ready to have a mommy of her own. Keep praying them home for us!
Blessings - Sherry