April Mission Trip

This post was written by Janice Mack.   Over a couple of posts, Janice will write about her trip in April to Soddo.

Friday and Saturday!

I returned from my second trip to Soddo, Ethiopia, almost a month ago now. I went to visit the children in CCCE home and the transition home.  We were a small group of four, but had much on our schedule to accomplish.

Friday, April 9th, started early as we left Philadelphia at 4:30 am to catch our flight on Ethiopian Airlines out of Washington, DC.  We were carrying materials to build window screens for all 56 windows at the home.  We had collected a lot of over-the-counter medications and sanitary napkins for the older girls.  The bags were filled to capacity with flip flops, clothing, and small gifts for the children and staff, but not over the weight limit!   It was a relief to get our bags to the check in counter and be able move to our gate.  It was only 9:00 in the morning, but my last Diet Coke for a week tasted great.

Bags at Check In - Washington DC

Conor, Janice, and Stacey

The flight takes us to Rome where we have a brief lay over while they re-stock the plane and change crews.  The first leg is about 9 hours.  The nice part about going to Ethiopia is that the plane is not very crowded and if you are quick, you can grab a row for yourself!  We all tried to sleep, which wasn’t too hard to do since the night before no one seemed to sleep much.  The old James Bond movies on the plane help to kill time, but mostly the time passes with eating.  They serve you lunch, a snack and dinner.  The downside is that they wake you to eat, even if you finally just fell asleep (with a little help from Ambien)!  In Rome the plane comes alive as we allowed to walk around and chat.  The flight from Rome to Addis is about 6 hours, again more eating and sleeping!

It was 8:30 in the morning when we landed in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.  We were all very excited to get off the plane and the adrenaline was flowing.  We needed to stop and change our dollars into birr, Ethiopian currency.  Our group worked its way through customs to the baggage claim.  There were many men there to “help” you manage your suitcases,   whether you want them to or not.  Jerry worked hard to barter their fee, but then we discover that we were charged too much because we were “ferengies”(white).

Alazar and Medkes met us the door!  It was great to see familiar faces and know that we were on our way.  Medkes is married to Dr. Kelemu and they started the orphanage with Dr. Romeo Bachand.  Alazar has driven for our organization for years and is a trusted and valued friend.  He serves as driver, translator, and guardian angel to us while in Ethiopia.

Medkes and Janice at Addis Airport

We stopped to buy fruit at a stand on our way out of Addis.  Oranges are not available in Soddo and the children are very happy when we bring them with us.

Buying Fruit

The traffic in Addis is like bumper cars, no one drives in lanes, there are few, in any traffic lights, they play chicken passing cars that are going too slow, there are animals everywhere, but I have yet to see an accident.

The road out of Addis was paved a couple of years ago and has greatly improved the ride to Soddo.  The past two years we have stopped at the same restaurant/hotel for lunch.  It is nice to get out of the car and take a break from all the traveling.  It is Saturday so the road is filled with people walking to market.  The country side is beautiful, rich and green from the spring rains.

On the road to Soddo

It amazes how much I recognize of Soddo as we approach the city.  The hill down to the orphanage was steep and unpaved which made it difficult to navigate the car down.


We were all very excited to see the children and were surprised when we were greeted by the singing voices!  There were hugs and kisses from all for each of us!  So many familiar faces who were so welcoming and happy to see us.  So many new faces, (18) of young children who looked excited because everyone else was, but not sure what all the fuss was about.  We had a wonderful dinner with all the children, unloaded the truck with our bags of stuff for the orphanage, and spent time laughing with the kids.

Welcome Ceremony

The night ended with us heading back to the hotel after a very long day.  This is a new hotel, very close to the orphanage.  It is called Fanta Vision.  The basic room has a full bed and a bathroom with a shower.  It even had a TV, which had a BBC channel when the electricity was working.  It was new and nice, but still things were just a little off. When I hung up my towel, the whole rack came tumbling down!  The one downside, was we never had hot water!  But I was grateful for the shower after the hard days of work!

Fanta Vision Hotel

Hotel Room

Bathroom (Editorial note from Terri - A HUGE UPGRADE FROM AXUM HOTEL!)

One response to this post.

  1. It is so wonderful to be able to read of your trip, and to be able to see pictures. I’ve only been involved in this mission for a couple of years – and this information is so helpful for me! Thank you all!


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