FEBRUARY 27th to MARCH 1st, 2010: THE LONG AWAITED AND WONDERFUL FAMLY REUNION
As mentioned in some earlier posts, after my first two days in Addis exploring Tesfaye's prior life in the Mercato and spending time with Dr. Rick Hodes at the Mother Theresa Mission and at his home (see Part I post http://tesfayesjourney.blogspot.com/2010/03/tesfayes-family-reunion-details-and.html), I had an incredible visit with Tesfaye to his village up North in the Gojaam area for three days, followed by another wonderful day and night in Gondar with Tesfaye, his first time there. In Gondar I had the chance to see the Spread the Love Project addition to the first school launched by Justin, where I was greeted by smiling young faces who made a special appearance at the school even though it was a holiday. I then had three days with Rick and Tesfaye back in Addis before saying my goodbyes. There has been a lot to try and describe, but for nowI am caught up to the end of our third day at the village (with a few more pictures to add). I recommend that you take the time to view the video links below, especially both the video of the initial reunion with Tesfaye's mother in town and the video of the reunion with his sister and brother at the village, and any other video links if you have the time. All together the videos give an interesting look into their village way of life and the celebrations that took place in the village over the three days; the video clips of the Agew tribe chanting and shoulder dancing spontaneously performed in joy over Tesfaye's "rebirth" are quite fascinating, and the Sunday morning Village Church visit video will give you an idea of the affectionate reception Tesfaye experienced from family and friends for 3 days.
Town Reunion - In short order, events began to unfold signalling the beginning of three days of celebrating Tesfaye's return as a man "reborn". I would like to share a video about the first reunion that Tesfaye had with his mother Yeshi, who made the one and a half hour walk to Gimjabet from their village of Jomaray Mara, as she will often do on Saturday, Market Day ( click following link to see video Tesfaye's first reunion with his mother and aunt up north). As it is a busy market day we had to make our way through a throng of people towards Meheret's shop to find his mother. All of a sudden, along the way two women saw Tesfaye and started embracing and kissing him; I was a little slow realizing it for some reason, but it was his mother and an aunt reacting with great joy and amazement and full of gratitude for the miracle from God. This video only covers those initial reunion moments in town.
Finally, from a distance we could see Tesfaye's brother's house, the one that his brother was able to build as a result of Tesfaye giving him a third of his hard earned savings from the Mercato days, pushing a wheelbarrow and earning one to two dollars a day.
As we approached nearer to his house, I witnessed a very sweet and touching reunion that Tesfaye shared with his very pretty younger sister Fantai, followed by the joyful reunion with his older brother Semenye and some little nieces, nephews of cousins.(click following link to see Video of Tesfaye's Village Reunion with his sister and brother ) This was followed by a very warm welcome at his brother's mud and twig constructed hut. For the next while we sat around, ate more injerra and drank home
made whiskey (very strong), and as you will see in the Welcome Home video link below, at one point Tesfaye's mother Yeshi spontaneously out of joy began Agew style shoulder dancing and his sister Fantai joined in. This would be a small taste of what was to come the following afternoon. I also took the time to wander around the surrounding land and learn a bit about what kind of agricultural products they produce, primarily being maize and some honey. While outside I also asked his brother and mother questions going back to when Tesfaye was 8 years old and inflicted with the TB that crippled his back, as well as asking his brother what he
remembered about their days together in the Mercato in Addis. Still in reminiscing mode, we looked at some old photographs that they had, including a picture of Tesfaye's father, who died when Tesfaye was 9 years old. We then sat around some more and they gave me some of the unpasterurized honey that Tesfaye's brother Semenye produces; quite different to the kind of honey I have at home, but still very tasty.
Back to town for the night - It was getting late so we were escorted by a large entourage back to our SUV and then drove back to town (we all decided that for the next two days instead of driving over rough terrain for an hour we would take the other option and drive out of town for only 15 minutes and then make an hour and fifteen minute walk a different route that the villagers take). Back in town we "checked in" to the
finest one star hotel in town, which costs $1.20 a night. It was a basic room with a bed and acutally fairly clean looking to the eye but wih a smell of dust in the air. There was a communal non-flushing squat style toilet, and a communal shower stall that did not work the 3 days that I was there, leaving me rather grungy at the end with all the dust and sweat to contend with; in a weird sort of way I kind of enjoyed the feeling,
as it brought me back to my extensive days of travel through East Africa and Asia in my early twenties. Being a little hungry I ate a snickers bar that I had bought in Bahir Dar and a little later as we sat around outside I had some sphagetti with a sauce that was too spicy for me. Exhausted, I then went to sleep around 10 o'clock. Tesfaye's younger brother Aserati shared Tesfaye's bed with him; he was not feeling well, as apparently he had a touch of malaria, so Tesfaye wanted him to stay with him and also tried to find medicine for him.
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 28TH, 2010 - Meheret's Shop, Village Church gathering and then afternnoon Celebration time
4:30 AM Sunday morning wake up: I woke up in my dusty room in town to the sound of the Muslim
call to morning prayers and a cramp in my calf muscle caused presumably by dehydration. I put on my dirt
crusted pants and rather than shave with cold water I decided not to shave today, and there was no water for a shower. Nobody else was up yet, so I first stood around outside in the early morning darkness, absorbed by the faint hypnotic calls eminating from the Minarets in the distance. As the early morning light emerged I wandered out to the unpaved street to take pictures of the morning streetscape.(click following link to see Video of the Sunday Morning streetscape and Visit to Meheret's Shop) Eventually the rest of my party woke up, and before making the short drive out of town to the starting point for the 1.25 hour walk to the village we went to visit Meheret's kiosk.