Another Ethiopian cultural nuance that I was unaware of: the shrugging of the shoulders. When being openly defiant or not wanting to respond with words, or THE word (Abeyow) in Alazar's case, shrugging the shoulders is a sure fire way to pout and piss off your mother. Nothing makes you want to pull a kid's hair out like placing lunch in front of them and after being inundated with "Abeyow" for three days, to not even be dignified with a word; simply a shoulder shrug.
Le and I thought it was adorable that even from the first day the kids were with us that they started calling us "mama" and "papa". It wasn't until two days later that of "special" titles were tarnished when a caregiver told us that "mama" and "papa" in AMharic is similar to "ma'am" and "sir". I was hearbroken. My kids weren't calling for their mother, they were calling a maid, a cook, a house keeper, a crazy white woman who cries all the time, or a random person on the street.
But day 6 was different. We settled into a routine. A pattern. Things began to slow down. Less fits, more openness, more love, less tears (mine and theirs). THANK YOU JESUS! Imagine my delight when I lifted my soon out of the bathtub and he screamed "MOMMY". Not "mama", not "ma'am", not "hey you", but "MOMMY". I laughed out loud and he enjoyed my reaction so much, that he turned it into a song. I still call it the Mommy song. And this song continued until almost lunchtime.
Post bathtime, mid Mommy song:
Playing in the yard:
Le and I knew that we would either get out and see Ethiopia or forever regret it. So we called a caregiver and had Yemamu take us to Korah leper colony for the afternoon. If you ever travel to Addis, this MUST be a stop. Korah is the largest leper colony in Africa and houses 75,000 people. THere is a hospital close to the colony that treats HIV, TB and leprosy. Leporsy in Ethiopia is seen as a curse. If you have it, you live in Korah. Period.
This man makes rugs by braiding rope together. The amazing thing is....leprosy has eaten his fingers.
As we walked into Korah, I was bombarded by school kids. These boys ran towards us and singled me out and played with my hair, my necklace and kept pointing to my shirt saying "mickey mouse". They were poor, hopeless and forgotten, but they had no idea. The more we walked through Korah and visited these people, I suddenly knew why Jesus spent most of his time on earth with the poor. He was welcomed. I can't tell you how many high tea lunches and black tie events I have entered and felt nervous, judged and out of place & that was having an invitation! But walking arm in arm with four children hanging off of each arm, being smiled at and hearing shouted "hellos" are way, I've never felt so accepted, so loved, so invited.
We visited families who had NOTHING. Just a sheet metal shack, their love of Jesus and coffee. Everyone we visited offered to make us coffee. The girl in the blue sweater in the picture below is a student at the school in Korah. The only Christian church in Korah pays for her school fees and her lunches. She wouldn't eat any other way. We followed her home to visit her family. She has 3 other siblings who were not as fortunate to go to school beacuse Korah church didn't have the money to send them all. They don't have the money to feed them either.