Friday, February 26, 2010

Off to the village after two interesting days in Addis Ababa

As mentioned on the Facebook Tesfaye page, it seems that access to blog sites is restricted, but I have just found by using remote desktop to get into my office computer I can bypass that. I only have time now to say that the first day in Addis Tesfaye was there to greet me with big smile at the airport and I saw his "apartment" and his school and later spent time at Dr. Rick's house with his gang, though Rick did not arrive from the USA until after I was back at the hotel, where he surprised me with a late night visit.

Yesterday was another great day revisiting the Mother Theresa Mission in Addis with Dr. Rick, and then going to the small Mercato with Tesfaye where I spent a few hours learning about Tesfaye's 4 years of life there - where he slept,ate, peddled his wares in the wheelbarrow, and meeting so many people who knew and remembered Tesfaye from those days and were so happy to see him and spoke so kindly about him. Although I had read and heard from Tesfaye many stories about his life in the Mercato, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Later I got to partake in Dr. Rick's well know Sabbath dinners.

I will fill in with more details and thoughts here probably in a few days when I return to Addis,sooner if I can, as in a few hours I am off to catch a plane with Tesfaye as we make our way to the village and see his family today.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

They say that in life timing is everything - it's not easy, but almost there!

Monday February 22nd and Tuesday February 23rd, 2010: If it's Tuesday it must be?

A couple of days before Nanci and I left for Montreal I had bad news of an impending 4 day Lufthansa pilot strike that had caused my connecting flight from Frankfurt to Addis Ababa to be cancelled. Then just before leaving Monday I heard the strike had been postponed, giving me hope that my flight would be reinstated; unfortunately, it was not soon enough to reinstate that flight.So after spending Monday night and most of Tuesday in Montreal before catching my overnight flight to Frankfurt, here I am dealing with a 12 hour layover as I wait to catch my late night flight getting me into Addis at 7:30 am.   I did enjoy the benefit of some good timing on the way: I was happy to bump into Debbie and Michael Smith at the airport lounge in Montreal, even though I only had time for a quick five minute hello. Also, here at the Frankfurt lounge I saw Saba Batra, who is on her way back from India to Vancouver after a month in India visiting family. She is getting married in June in Vancouver.

As I flew here from Montreal I thought back to the short but sweet one day visit I had in Montrea, and  I found a certain symmetry in the fact that there I was with Nanci as she was visiting her mother for the first time since Rhoda had her heart surgery last summer, and I am about to accompany Tesfaye to his mother Yeshi's village where they will see each other for the first time since his back surgery last summer in Vancouver (more details are in my post of February 5th below).

In any event, I am anxious to finally get to Addis and see Tesfaye, as well as Dr. Rick Hodes and Azmera and the other young people living with Rick, and my young friend Workie in Gondar, and mabye also get to one of the Spread The Love Project schools in the Gondar area. It will be nice to reconnect with Ethiopia and all of  those people. I even had a chance here in the Frankfurt airport lounge to practice some of my limited Amharic language vocabulary on one of the staff, as I knew when I looked at her that she had that classic female Ethiopian face that you see in the centuries old paintings.

I truly am excited as I get closer and closer to sharing that reunion that is about to happen between Tesfaye and his mother and siblings; funny, That Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics glow and buzz that I felt so strongly and enjoyed from the Opening Ceremonies until I left on Monday, seems to be fading quickly. Although Ethiopia is far removed from the Olympic scene (though they did have one athlete representing Ethiopia in Vancouver), I will try to stay current on results as best I can and will be rooting from a distance.

Now I am going to try to sleep a bit before tonight's flight.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Reunion Time at last - I'm booked to go!

As I mentioned in my previous post on Friday January 15, 2010, I have been trying to juggle my schedule so that I can fly to Ethiopia this month to finally travel with Tesfaye to his village for his first reunion with his mother and siblings in over two years and, more importantly, it will be the first time that they see each other since his life altering surgery.  I am scheduled to fly from Vancouver on February 22nd to Addis Ababa via Montreal and Frankfurt, arriving the evening of the 24th; I will fly back to Vancouver early in the morning on March 6th.

I recently spoke with Tesfaye to tell him I am booked and, as you can imagine, he is so excited for himself and his mother that this time has come. I too am excited, for I have been hoping and dreaming of one day being able to share in what will surely be a very special moment in Tesfaye's journey of hope. After spending the first couple of days in Addis I plan to fly with Tesfaye on the 27th to Bahar Dar, the nearest city you can fly to, and then it is about a 4 hour journey by car to the nearest town of Agew Gimjabet, followed by a 1 hour and 45 minute trek on foot to Tesfaye's family village Gimja Bet Maryam; I will have a chance to meet Meheret, the shop owner Tesfaye and I would call to get word to Tesfaye's mother to walk to town from her village at a predetermined time and day to receive our call, as she has neither phone nor electricity in the village.  I expect I may sleep one night in the town and one night in the village. On the third day if it appears that I can fit it in, I may fly from Bahar Dar up to Gonder for a day and night to visit my friend Workie and to see one of the Spread the Love schools, either the original or one of the two new ones. For now, anyone interested in viewing a map of Ethiopia and those locations can go to and zoom in and out of the map for different views and detail. I did not yet have time to figure out how to reproduce a map like that on this site.   When I am away I may provide updates and photos on both that site and this.

I am also looking forward very much to spending some time with my hero Dr. Rick Hodes and catching up on all of his current activities and projects.  I will report back on this also. I will see him in Addis, and maybe in Gondar as well, as he is going to be there with a mission coming to visit from the US.  Israel has opened up the list  again of Ethiopians eligible to emigrate to Israel, so the JDC is gearing up the clinics and compounds again for that. The list had been cut off back in 2008.