The reason for my trip was to renew my visa but if I had to choose a country to travel to in Africa my top 2 were Egypt and Ethiopia. Egypt was out of the question and it just so happened that Gideon has close friends in Addis Ababa and I was able to find a cheap flight out- so Ethiopia became my 1 week of exploration and peaceful rest. When I arrived in Ethiopia at 5:30 am it was fridged, mountains surrounding the airport, and as we rode the taxi back to my friend, Nebiyu Haile’s home I saw many more beggars than Kenya lining the streets wrapped tightly in bright colored shawls. I had not slept the previous night and so before going to visit Haile’s inlaws, his wife, Sergut, and their newborn boy, Laul, he let me sleep a few hours. That first day was my initiation into a full week of engira twice a day at least, followed by lots of shiro, coffee, and one of my new discoveries, genfo.
The next day Haile took me to his home church which was in a European style building, bursting with Amharic songs and a unique sound Arabian style of keyboard music. They actually sung much louder and moved around much more than I expected. I was greeted with warm Ethiopian-style welcomes of kisses on cheeks, men or women made no difference. I enjoyed meeting the many friends of Haile and then Nebiyu Marcos once I moved to his home on Monday. Marcos’s wife, Atunia, had 6 more weeks to go before giving birth to her first-born child and was so hospitable and accommodating to me despite her feeling tired a lot from the baby. It Ethiopia once a woman has a baby she is expected to stay at home with that baby for 3 months, quarantined in the home or her parent’s home, and she is to eat a special diet of genfo, porridge, fruits, and lamb meat. I thought that was a bit extreme.
Marcos works for a child sponsorship program which is part of his church in Addis and Atunia works for an organization called Transformation Love. Because Marcos’s work was mainly in the church I got to know many of the people he works with and the women and children he serves. Many of the people coming to the church live in the dump closeby where they dig for food through the piles of garbage that are regularly delivered in big truck.