Monday, March 5- Up early this morning and took another good hot shower! I still have diarrhea along with several of my colleagues and am considering taking Cipro if this doesn’t heal soon. I continue to suffer as the people of Ethiopia and can relate to their daily discomfort and suffering. Please pray to make me and our other team members whole again. We set off for our last day in Abaya this morning. On the way we witnessed a vehicle accident on the highway to Awassa. I’m surprised we don’t see more due to the massive amount of people on the highway walking from point to point, many carrying commerce and water on their backs, hundreds of donkey carts blocking the road and a high volume of vehicles out of repair. A large dump truck full of rock coming down a mountain hill without brakes couldn’t make a corner and sideswiped a Toyota SUV. The dump truck turned over on its side and was leaking diesel which flowed down the hill and polluted a stream. The SUV was demolished and I was surprised anyone in either vehicle survived. Jon Cash was in the first vehicle in our mini-caravan and immediately grabbed his first aid kit and headed to the accident to apply medical help. Brittney from Bayside church was in our vehicle and was escorted to the accident by Tamiru. Both applied medical help while the rest of us stayed with our vehicles. A large group of people had congregated by then and we observed tension and a fight almost broke out, but cool heads prevailed fortunately. Jon and Brittney returned after applying medical support indicating everyone was okay with the exception of the driver of the SUV who had some lacerations on his arms and a possible head injury. There was a women with a baby who both came out unharmed. Thanks be to God for their safety and we prayed for those who were injured. This is the second time during the trip that Jon and Brittney’s medical savvy were called upon.
We arrived in Abaya and went to Maria Rodriguez’ sons sponsored child. The family lives in a hut in a lush tropical area full of banana and other beautiful tundra, with mountains surrounding their home. They had their home decorated with poinsettia and were wearing their finest garb. Maria showed them pictures of her family and gave them presents of necessities, in addition to soccer balls. Maria spent quality time with the family and even played catch with her sponsored child and his mom. Then she went into the field and met the cow they purchased for the family, called “Red” because of his color. Before leaving the locals sang a song in their native songs for all of us representing World Vision, and then we sang “Yes, Jesus Loves You”.
Following the sponsored child visit, we proceeded to several latrine projects. Probably a subject matter most of us don’t usually talk about, but a real need in an area where open deprecation causes communicable disease and groundwater contamination. World Vision has built 300 latrines in the Abaya ADP, and now local homeowners are using that model and building their own on their property. These are primitive compared to the worst of outhouses, but work. Essentially a 3 meter hole is dug, rocks placed around the top and walls and a door is placed, usually materials found on their own property like palm frawns and other tree like materials. Every week the owners place ash from fires they use to cook their meals in the hole which neutralizes the odor. We saw 3 different homeowners versions, one which had a male and female latrine. It was a busy day and following lunch at a local restaurant in Dilla, we went to another sponsored child visit, then on to visit a 2 newly built schools. They were built by World Vision and replaces 3 other school houses ages old. The principles from the schools were present including other community leaders.
The one thing I’ve seen over and over during this visit, is that every venue we visit, community members and civic leaders in the ADP show up. The community is fully committed to World Vision and their leadership and endorse the significant impact on the area by empowering the people that live there in providing them the training and resources to take ownership of projects.
Following this we went to the water project that Faith church sponsored and was built by community members. You may recall seeing pictures of the reservoir being on the Narthex TV, and we actually were able to see it in person.
It provides water to 5,000 people in the area and is making a huge impact by providing clean water, eliminating disease and long walks to acquire water. We went to one of the two outlets where the water is fed to faucets for the community to fill their 5 gallon tanks. It was surrounded by locals acquiring water. While we were there a number of local citizens showed up, again, as they do everywhere we went, curious and interested in our assessment. While at the water project, a huge thunderstorm blew through dumping a large amount of rain, the second day in a row. Prayers do work. Please pray for more rain in the Horn of Africa. We were stuck under the eve of the Health Clinic adjacent to the water project and the locals again sang us a song, so we returned the favor by singing “He’s got the whole world in His Hands”. Our final stop was to visit a family who benefited from a special grant for the Horn of Africa Famine Relief. They received sheep that will help them feed and provide for their family. Finally we arrived at the ADP office and debriefed, and said our goodbyes to Aynalem and her staff. I also bought some fresh coffee beans grown in Abaya that I will bring home for our Faith family to sample upon our return.
We left the Abaya region in a driving rain, and hail that had accumulated on the side of the road. If this continues the drought may be officially over and we can avoid crop failure and another Summer famine, and lives and livestock lost as we did last year mostly in adjacent Somalia. So, please continue to pray for rain. On the way home the big truck and vehicle it hit were still in the same place on the road. I understand this is the M.O. in Ethiopia as the government doesn’t have the resources to move these quickly, or for that matter take care of the basic needs of the people.
Tomorrow, our return trip via vehicle to Addis Ababa. Please continue to pray for our listening, and learning, our health and safety, and that we will continue to see God’s presence in this beautiful place and it’s people.
In Peace of Christ.