There are certain times in your life when you wish you had a camera- and hope that your memory can hold the precious moment in your head until you die. I can say that these days were definately part of one of those moments.
I went to visit an orphanage with a couple of new Austrailian friends of mine half way through my trip. After having been to a few orphanages already I was a bit reluctant to visit this one with them- but luckly my husband and some of our friends was visiting Ethiopia and it was a wonderful opportunity to introduce them to an orphanage setting.
Denis and I had not been to (or made arrangements to) visit our agency's orphanage unlike the other couple that came with him (they are with a different agency). I had found it difficult to find out how to visit before I left and was too busy learning the culture to focus on the run around emails you generally get when you contact them about personal items- so I gave up and happily visited many others while in Ethiopia. Once that are large and ones that are small- so it happens that while Denis was on his short 2 week visit we decided to spend some time visiting one. It's a great opportunity to go and play with the children and if you ever have a chance please go- the kiddo's love it (and bring some soccer balls or frisbees with you).
It's an amazing feeling - entering a building most often filled with laughter and children playing and deep down as you enter these buildings- you know that they don't have parents. In our culture the though of not having parents is so drastic- but as you spend time in Ethiopia and make friends- you will learn that intact families are not as much of the norm or assumed in the same way that our "world" assumes that your family was intact in one way or another.
When I walked into the building and saw this woman- a stout woman - later middle aged- with graying hair- I knew immediately that there was something familiar about her. Somebody, funny enough, that I knew was visiting with her, so we did a round of hello's and then we sat with her for a little while. We asked about the children currently in the orphanage we were at and about the children at the HIV setting. She told us all about the stages of adoption some of them were in and a little something special about most of the children. We independently went up and played with the nannies that were with the babies- and then we brought some balls and some soda out to play with the children. We'd walk in and out of her office-and she'd stop what she was doing and talk about the kids or about a difficulty she was experiencing. You felt very comfortable with her. She knew each and everyone of the children- even though they seem to come in and out of the building in relatively short time. Each one was happy and special to her.
After a little bit of time there- still feeling there was something familiar about her- I asked her what her name was. When she introduced herself- an "awe" factor set in. I was so pleasantly surprised- I came to play with some children at an orphanage and here I was in front of the "Haregewoin Teferra" from there's "No me with out you". Her English was fantasic- as was her enthusiasm about her adventures with her current children. I instantly felt uncomfortable in a way. Suddenly I knew so much personal information about this woman I just met. My eyes openned to her office surroundings and I noticed the picture of her daughter Atetegeb. Who died of aids, bore her a grandson she barely knows due to cercimstances beyond her control etc. There were beautful curtains surrounding big window leading to the area the children play in. The dining table covered with information regarding child sponsorship and her next stage planned to help the people of her country.
Strangely enough- she seemed a lot like my host mom, and other strong Ethiopian women I had met on my visit. And after the Awe factor subsided, additional time with the children, and most of all my discomfort about knowing her personal life with out admitting to it or referring to the book (I didn't want our current experience to change so I didn't want to meantion the book- it was delightful to meet her with out having to "refer" to her life in anyway but just to let her meet me and me her with out her knowing that I knew about her)- we just talked and then I went out to play with the children some more.
it was amazing- to be in the presence of somebody I admired. When I imagined meetin her before I went it was simply that- a fantasy. But to find myself in her presence - enjoying her company- and pleased to be invited to visit with her and the children- then to have her "fame" added to my awareness was really overwhelming. Saying thank you to her on my last visit at the orphanage was one of the most Genuine thank you's I'd ever said. Although she'll never know it- visiting with this "ordinary" "strong" "stubborn" and just wonderful woman - was an inspiring time for me.
About Wassero Haregewoin- When you meet her she talks about her children at the orphanage. Her orphanage is clean, welcoming and fun. If prompted she'll talk about the book (she talked with one of our friends about it). She has worries and concerns about the children like any mom would. It's amazing that her emotions show like they do-because she has seen so many children come through her doors(orphans). She admits there are some that are more special than others at time-but they are all loved by her and you can tell by her sentiments and knowledge of them.
There was a specific child with special needs that touched me at her orphanage. She was blind but I was thrilled to sit with her and talk with her. She was already assigned to be transferred to a location that could help her with her special needs. Haregewoin travelled to the south to learn about and then fight for her to have this opportunity and we were all so happy for her. But Denis knew from the moment I sat with her that I was smitten. She was not young- nor was she part of sibling group that I want-but if the transfer wasn't planned -I would have asked to try to adopt her. She was an amazing little girl that touched me that day- deeply. Denis spent time with her too- and Haregewoin told us so much about her- it was delightful to learn about her and through this story- learn about how much Haregewoin continues to work for the better lives for the children of Ethiopia.
She's an amazing "ordinary" woman who has big dreams -and a lot of connections to make them start to happen. The book is one side of this complex and delightful woman that I was honored and blessed with the opportunity to meet.
The days on the long road of one families Ethiopian Adoption
This blog started out as a way to record the twists, turns, highs and lows in my families journey to adopt siblings from Ethiopia. Now our children are home and we have just finished celebrating our first year as a family.
I'm Kimberly (or Fendesha), an adventurous person who aspires to be a vagabond- but for now- I spend all of my free time travelling and my down time thinking of travelling. I'm a mom of 3 (the oldest being my gorgeous canine companion), a IT project manager, and on occasion I find myself the primary writer of this blog.
Happy Reading and thank you for stopping by.