Noah Arrives Back In Soddo

Noah, one of our wonderful Aerie Africa volunteers, arrived back in Soddo last week.  He is volunteering at CCC for a month and is following up on the many improvements that Noah and Sam implemented during their year long mission at CCC in 2010.  Below is a post from him.

This is a perfect opportunity to finally put down some of the latest events since I’ve been back in Ethiopia. It’s shortly before 5 in the morning and for some reason I’m lying here awake. It is an unusually still, moonless night, the power is out, and the night guard Sodo just passed by my window shuffling his feet. I know without looking that he is wearing his black wool coat, floppy little hat, worn sneakers and carrying his massive machete. Nothing to comfort you from creepy nighttime sounds like knowing Sodo is patrolling. But first I begin with the descent into Ethiopia.

Arriving in Addis Ababa is a mixed bag of emotion. I’m back. I can’t wait to see those kids. Am I going to be inundated with work right away? What is it going to be like to be back without Sam here? I am stoked (Southern California slang…) to see Katie. I am not so stoked to eat Injera and wat. As the plane touches down, my thoughts are jolted back into reality as the plane suddenly slams on the brakes and we all go flying forward. When the massive g-forces stop and we are able to sit back in our seats I look around and chuckle. Half the plane is laughing, the rest is wide-eyed and terrified. It is obvious who is landing in Addis to stay and who is here on a layover en route to Cape Town.  While the event has nothing to do with where we are and everything to do with the European pilot, this is a pleasant greeting to Ethiopia. I reflect how the last time I was in the Addis Ababa airport at night the power went out – everywhere.  Including the runways.  As a people Ethiopians are amazing at adapting and making due with what is available and maintaining a glowing happiness. I hope I continue to learn from this attitude during my stay.

As I am going through immigration I am amazed I understand some of the Ethiopian chatter. Escripto alesh? Yelum, escripto iza terapeza lie no. Do you have a pen? No, there is one over there on that table. I strike up a conversation with a ferenji guy next to me in line. He is here to volunteer at the Korean Mission Hospital and asks if I have any advice for someone who hasn’t worked in Africa before. I smirk and tell him to never be shy with anyone because everyone will want to talk with him and he will have the best conversations and fall in love with these people. I also tell him that operations at the hospital will most likely shock him and not to think of his work in the same terms as he did in the states. As we leave the airport, Alazar is waiting for me. It is a warm reception. But my new friend’s ride is nowhere to be found. Alazar offers to drive him to the hospital and he gratefully accepts. As we drive to the hospital, we have to go on a detour through a little neighborhood of dirt and rock roads lined with block, eucalyptus branch, tarp and tin homes. Men are sitting outside shooting the breeze as mangy dogs wander around looking for scraps. The only thing open is a meat market – a small open air stand with several slabs of raw beef hanging on a rack. The road to the hospital is under construction and is closed. We have to park a distance from the hospital and walk this confused American the rest of the way to the hospital. I can’t help but wonder what is going through this guy’s mind, but it all feels strangely normal and refreshing to me.

The next morning Alazar picks me up and we head off to see Michael. Michael has been at CCC since its beginning and is now at Addis Ababa University – the top university in Ethiopia. Seeing Michael is like seeing an old trusted friend. He was the one who helped Sam and me transition to life in Ethiopia, had unending patience with us, translated for us in Ethiopian church and spent hours watching LOST with us.

Getting back in the car we start our journey to Soddo. I take a deep breath in Addis and smile at the familiar smell. Alazar laughs and asks what Ethiopia smells like. It’s a mixture of exhaust, dust, burberry, and Injera. He tells me he hasn’t ever thought about what his country smells like. The 6 hour ride to Soddo slips by as Alazar and I discuss the uprisings in the Middle East, funny differences between Ethiopian and American culture, the ways in which non-profits help and hurt development, the differences between Ethiopian Protestant and Ethiopian Orthodox churches, and how our families are doing.

On the road to Soddo

Arriving in Soddo is a homecoming. The music is blaring from the suks on the roadside. Donkeys carry bright yellow plastic jerrycans of water wander down the road as children with sticks swat them to keep the docile creatures in line. Goats and sheep trot aimlessly (Goats– tails go up. Sheep – tails go down).

Arriving at the children’s home I am greeted with cheers as the children bombard the vehicle with arms raised. “Noha is coming. Noha is here! Sammi is coming? Allie America?” (more on these phrases later). I am inundated with sloppy kisses and have a hard time standing as I become a human jungle gym. This is very good.

Noah playing with boys - human jungle gym

Noah with boys

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Janice Mack on February 9, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Noah, I was right there with you! Thank you for generous and loving heart! Tell everyone hello and post again when you have time:)


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