Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 5 - Leprosy Colony

Today was another great day. Allie slept through the night again without a peep. She woke up a little before 7 a.m. By 9:30, we were off to the Leprosy Colony. It is one of the poorest places in Ethiopia. Here, the lepers are still outcasts. Any family members of people with leprosy must also reside in this colony. They are tiny metal shacks on land between a cemetery and a dump. Their source of food is the dump. People fight for food, and if you are small you don’t eat. It is hard for kids to go to school because then they miss the time at the dump when the hotels like the Hilton dump their food. If you miss that time, you won’t eat. There is a woman from Tennessee who sold all of her belongings and moved her family to help this colony. She started having children being sponsored so that they can be shipped to a boarding school where they can learn and be fed. While we were there, one family was asking us to take their son’s photo so that maybe someone will sponsor him.

When we arrived at the colony, we were told to stay in a tight group and we had “leaders” (men acting as guards) who walked in front and behind us. This made us a little nervous at first especially since we were carrying our children, but we soon felt very comfortable. Kids would run up to us and speak English asking what our name was. They would hold our hands and at one point, there were several children fighting over my hand.

Adam was a huge hit with the children. It is funny that everywhere we have gone Ethiopian men and women will comment on how much they like my hair. At the colony, it was all about Adam’s tattoos, earrings, and camera. Those kids would run up to him and say “stamp” “stamp” and pointing to his tattoos. They would ask what the tattoos said and some children could even read them a little bit. They also asked if his earrings were magnets, and they wanted him to take pictures of them doing all different funny things and they also wanted to take photos with his camera. Those kids just hovered all over Adam and he was having a blast. There was only one point that wasn’t good when the mothers came out with sticks. They weren’t happy that pictures were being taken.

Visiting the colony was such an amazing experience. Some of the stuff we saw was so sweet, and some of the stuff was very disturbing. If anyone would like more information, I can give you the details (name, website, etc.), but for security reasons I can’t share too much through the blog.

After that trip, we came back to the guest house for lunch and a nap. Allie also got a bath this afternoon. For dinner we went out to an Italian restaurant that also had an art gallery attached to it. The gallery shows work from 47 different artists and they are all on canvases. We purchased a piece for our house and we hope to purchase another one later this week. As for the food, it was delicious! Ethiopia was ruled by the Italians on two different occasions so they know how to cook it! The funny thing was that we chose to go to this Italian restaurant today – which just happens to be a national holiday celebrating when the Italians were conquered.

It was nighttime by the time we left the restaurant and we’ve never been outside at night. It was so neat to see all of the people on the streets and the little shops were all open. This is the last time that we are eating out at a restaurant because we feel like we’ve been lucky so far by not getting sick. We don’t want to risk it again right before we all get on a plane. J

I did forget to mention that on the way to the colony, we were pulled over by the local police. This made us all a little nervous but he had pulled us over because there was a sticker on the van. This blocked the view to the passengers inside and so the officer wanted to check us out. The sticker was just a tiny little guitar.

Tomorrow we plan to take it easy. We’ll go shopping in the morning and then rest in the afternoon while Hollie and Brian head to the embassy. It has been a great day and Allie was back to her super happy self. We decided to feed her more, and we also aggressively cleaned out her nose with Little Noses spray. She is SO congested, and being outside in the smog is making it worse. After we cleaned her out this morning (and a little bit of fussiness), then she was all smiles again today!

I should also note that Alemitu is showing signs of bonding. She loves to have Adam feed and play with her. She isn’t scared of him at all, but she wants me around at all times. She wants me to hold her. There have been a few times when she has cried for me if I’ve walked out of the room or if I’m across the room. At this point, Adam is just handing her over immediately when she cries for me to encourage that bonding process. We didn’t expect her to show these signs yet. And by “cry”, I mean some minor fussing. We haven’t seen any tears yet.

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