I pack and repack my things trying to optimize my ability to access anything I might need immediately while minimizing the number of items I need to carry. I am failing miserably at this task– there are so many moving parts to this trip. The items I need for myself, the items I am using to capture the time here, the items I am using to do the work I came to do. I brought too much stuff, it’s always my fear in the packing process: will I carry this thing around with me and never need it vs. if I don’t have this thing and I need it, how will I cope? It’s a difficult balance, I have it on lock for a few days travel at home in the US, but here halfway across the world, I am lost in a sea of belongings.
The sound of Morning Prayer at 4am is unwelcome, though beautiful. I lay awake and listen, drifting in and out of sleep as I have for the last 6 hours. I’m in a room with 5 other creatives, all in bunk beds. I haven’t shared a room with anyone other then Tim or my sister in about 15 years. It’s strange and unfamiliar. When the others begin to stir, someone whispers. Another whisper and then an eruption of giggles. I laugh, it’s strange but also… kind of fun.
After breakfast we pile into the vans and settle in for our 5-hour road trip from Addis down to Awassa. Our driver is skilled but it’s of little comfort as we repeatedly face oncoming traffic and veer around livestock crossing in front of us, we’re also inches from small carts and large trucks on our right and left. We talk, laugh, and stick our cameras out the window trying to capture the unfamiliar sights.
When we arrive we transition quickly from the hotel to Ebeneezer Grace where we meet Argaw (pronounced Argo) and Rachel, Shaun and Megan. They’ve built an orphanage that accepts children from the community. They share with us about Lantu, the first little girl who came to them. Though blind and in need of a heart transplant she thrived in their care, learning 5 languages and sharing her love with their families before dying from complications of her heart condition at age 9. I am deeply affected by her story.
They also share with us about their connection to a village that abandons or kills children based on a long-held spiritual belief that they are cursed, called Mingi Children. A child can be declared to be mingi if they are born out of wedlock, are a twin, if their parents' marriage or pregnancy was not approved or certified, also children that get their top teeth before their bottom ones, or children who do not pass rites into adulthood, and more. These children are abandoned, suffocted, stangled, thrown to crocodiles in the lake, or killed in other brutal ways. Argaw and Rachel tell us how they have worked to rescue mingi children. My heart aches as they speak. We will come back tomorrow to create videos and photography and content for their website and social media, and materials to help ask families to sponsor one of the children living in their orphanage.
Dinner tonight: Injera and Yebeg Wot & Ambo (sparkling flavored water)
Feeling: exhausted but content, looking forward to tomorrow
Love from Caro