November Trip to CCCE

The following post was written by Janice Mack, Aerie Africa board member.  She does a beautiful job describing our trip to Soddo:

We had an amazing visit, filled with beautiful views, renewing friendships, making new friends, holding tiny hands, seeing smiles, wiping tears, and lots of laughter!

I left Philadelphia October 29th with a group of 11!  There were two doctors; Cynthia and Karen, four board members; Donna, Terri, Suzanne and me, Donna’s son, Chris, and her nephew, Shaun, Terri’s daughter Allie, and Ian and his son Jamie.  Terri described moving us from one place to another was “like herding cats!”

We stayed in Addis the first night and enjoyed a fabulous meal prepared by Medkas, Dr. Kelemu’s wife.  It was particularly challenging for her to host all of us when they had been without power all day.  She was an incredibly gracious host and made us all feel welcomed!

Our drivers for this trip were lead by our dear friend Alazar and his co-workers, Mickey and Tariku.  They were wonderful and would put any NASCAR drivers to shame as they navigated the roads where more people, cows, goats, chickens littered the path then cars.  It is much like bumper cars, no rules, no lanes, just push your way to the front!

The raining season had just ended and the country side was incredibly lush!  The patch work of the fields showed every shade of green imaginable.  It was nice to see the  livestock looking so healthy as we passed them, rather closely, on the road.

We were greeted by the children singing and clapping.  They had been waiting all day and were anxious for our arrival.  There were 7 new faces since I had been there in April.  We now total 64 children under our care, 10 living in the transition homes attending school or working, 3 going to different universities or trade schools and 51 living in the CCCE home.  It was a wonderful night of catching up and building new relationships.

Katie and Allie with Amanuel and Mitten

Katie and Allie with Amanuel and Mitten

The week was busy with all of us taking on different tasks.  The doctors worked on giving the children physicals.  The children are growing and thriving with a little outbreak of ringworm being one of the biggest issues.  Katie, a young American girl working at the CCCE home, taught the little ones to say, “I got the fungus!”  They would say it at random times which often cracked us up.  Several of the children had to be taken to the dentist for some cavities to be filled or teeth to be pulled.  A few of them had all the work done without any Novocain!  It takes a lot of pain for an Ethiopian child to cry.

Dr. Karen examining Berket

Ian lead a very hard working crew of Chris, Shaun, Jamie, and the drivers, Tariku and Mickey.  They started with finishing the work on the screens that had started on my last trip in April.  Many of the screens were attached with Velcro, which was coming loose from the weather.  They cleaned the old Velcro off and screwed the screens into the metal casing. Other then this, the screens seem to be holding up rather well!

Also, they painted the nursery and the kitchen.  They had to take the kitchen apart to paint its walls and ceiling.  So we took all 64 kids and the staff out to lunch that day!  There is a restaurant in town that has a dining area on their roof.  It was like a party as the children arrived from school.  Their eyes were wide at the views of their home town, the variety of food in the buffet and for some, soda for the first time.  The littlest ones entertained us with their dancing and joyful celebrations.  This will be an experience that they will always remember.

Little ones eating lunch at cafe - the "eyes" on their heads were from our Halloween party - they wore them all week!

Our painting team - Chris, Jamie, and Shaun

ConKerr, a local non-profit that makes pillowcases for children receiving cancer treatment, donated pillowcase for the children.  One afternoon while they were at school, we replaced their pillowcases with the new ones and a new toothbrush donated by Dr. Rob Lenker.  They were so surprised when they walked into their rooms!  The colorful pillowcases really brightened their rooms.

A small group went to visit Oxnard School, a private school that all the children grade 2-8 now attend.  Like all buildings in Ethiopia, it is hidden from the street view behind tin metal fencing.  The building is very dilapidated.  It is constructed out of a stucco type mud and has dirt floors that must be very challenging in the raining season.  The library is a room with actually very few books.  But what they lack for environment and resources they make up for in vision and passion!  Here the children have teachers, not instruction by satellite TV (when there is power).  There are 35 children in a class not 100.  Their teachers hold them to high standards and challenge them own their learning.  Our own newly hired Dean of Students, Chu Chu, was instrumental in founding Oxnard School and has made a positive impact on all the students achievement.

Library at Oxnard School

Sam, one of the American young men working at CCCE, played soccer in college and played for the hospital team in Soddo.  He has worked hard raising money to grade the field by the orphanage to make a level place for the children to play.  There is game going most afternoons before the sun goes down.  Shaun was able to bring over team uniforms that were donated by his high school in Pittsburgh.  A highlight of the week was a match between CCCE and another orphanage.  The children were so excited to put on their team jerseys.  The crowd went wild with each goal and the final score came down to last few minutes as CCCE won 2-1!  It was a moment of great unity and pride for all the children, not just the team!

CCCE's Soccer Team

One morning a few of the fittest of our group went on a 5 hour hike up the nearby mountain.  It was quite challenging, but the views from the church at the top were worth the effort.  Many people were making the hike for their daily walk to school, work or even water.  What is exercise for us can be just the daily commute for another!

One afternoon we visited a feeding program at a local church.  We donated $500 and the church was able to organize feeding 50 of their neediest families, widows and disabled, with one month worth of corn.  The corn was dumped in the center of the court yard and we took turns filling the burlap bags with 20 scoops.  I marvel how some would have been able to carry their heavy load home, when they literally dragged themselves on their hands to the church in the first place.  Cynthia and Karen saw many who needed medical attention and sent one family to the hospital.  Their child had crawled into a cooking fire and had severe burns on his body and face.  Our generous nurse, Helen, stayed with the child and we covered the small hospital bill for the family.  We have heard that the child is doing well.

Feeding Program

Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world.  It is difficult place to survive and live, much less thrive.  We watched as the children washed their clothes in the cement sinks, the house mothers cooked over coal fires, butcher and clean the chickens for our last dinner with them, deal with rolling electrical black outs, study by candle light, share the piece of candy with their friend.  I have often heard people say that the Ethiopians are “so happy.”  Their lives are very difficult, even the most basic things, preparing a meal and washing, are time consuming and hard.  But there is happiness, love, and even joy despite these trying circumstances.  This is possible because of hope!  Hope that things can change, things can get better, that people care, and we do.


Flowers planted by Sister Helen at CCCE

One response to this post.

  1. Praise God for all of the work of Aerie Africa, CCCE and all of the incredible voluteers. Sounds like you guys had an awesome trip and were blessed. Please keep up all of the work!
    God Bless.


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