Ethiopia Trip #11

imageI’m waiting for my flight to Washington where I will connect to London. I think I may be the only woman going to Washington and NOT marching in the Woman’s March. Damn I wanted too. But my trip back to my kiddos in Ethiopia was booked long ago and there is no way I could cancel on them.

I’m meeting my cohort, Stacy in DC where we will travel on together to London. We are going to stay there for a couple of days and take in the sites (and gradually work through the jet lag). After that we will meet up with the rest of the OA Board in Frankfurt on our way to Addis Ababa. It’s a crazy, but good, itinerary.

For now I’m trying to get my devices charged up for the long flight ahead while enjoying a beer and a snack in the United Club. I always have this urgent sense of, eat and drink while you can, when I travel. So I am.

See you on the other side of the pond.

Lori
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

The Long List in Korah

Another one of those loooong travel days. 

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I woke at 3am (ugly given the fact that I didn’t go to bed until midnight) for my 6am flight.  I arrived at the airport about 45 minutes late –something I NEVER do- due to a nasty bit of snow and ice. I met up with our Brigade Medical Director and we checked in together though not until we addressed a few hundred dollars worth of unwelcomed baggage fees. Groan.

 

Rant: Come on United (Gawd I wish I had another viable choice) I flew more than 100,000 miles on United last year, almost never checked anything, except of course when I’m brought medical supplies and donations somewhere, plus our bags for this trip were much lighter than the allowed max…yes they were big hockey bags but seriously your telling me IF I had them full of 70 pounds of hockey equipment there would be no fee but with 40 pounds of donations its $200??  How on earth does that make sense??? Ok rant over.

 

After being late and having the bag frustration our mission mojo took a turn for the good.  Though there was a blinding snow squall and talk of flight canceling buzzed through the gate area we boarded our flight within a half hour of our original schedule and arrive in plenty of time for our connecting flight.  We later learned that we were one of just two flight to take off then as many were cancelled due to the weather.  I asked, “why us?” and the flight attended shrugged “we were just lucky I guess”. Well OK, Ill take that!

 

In DC we met up with three more team members from Out of the Ashes.  The flight to Addis which was thankfully uneventful and we actually landed early in Addis. We then cleared customs with minimal pain considering the 800 pounds of supplies we were carrying (NO not kidding) 

 

After a quick bag drop at the guest house we headed to Korah to survey the clinic site. The rest of the day was spent orienting, surveying the brigade site and meeting the new nurses at the clinic.

 

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One thing that stood out for me was a large list names taped to the blue metal fences outside the gates of the shelter where we will work.  It was a list new students for Out of the Ashes. (out of the Ashes is the organization I serve with that provides scholarships to poor students in Korah…scholarships that provide food, housing, books, tuition…and a way out of the poverty that surrounds them.

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 It was humbling to see all of those names…kids counting on us to send them to school and provide healthcare.  It was both exciting and terrifying as we took in the responsibility we carried with us.

 

I cant wait to put a face to everyone of these names.

 

 

She’s seen these walls and they never change
Everything’s in its place
Her relationships are neatly arranged
Down to religion and race

And she says, “Here in my security
I don’t make a move unless my friends approve
I do what’s expected of me”

And as I grow older
And there’s so much that I do not know
I’m drawn to those who are bolder
And go where no one dare to go

~ excerpt from “Hero in Me” by Jeffrey Gaines

Hello Hubster

This is my third trip to Ethiopia in 13 months.  I traveled with a friend the first time and then last summer I brought two of my sons.  I cannot tell you how proud they made me on that trip and how touched I was when they said they wanted to return.  No Disney or Caribbean Island for them.  Nope they want to go back to Korah.  I get it, obviously.  Korah is…compelling.

 This trip I’ve added my favorite family member to the brigade, my husband! I am so stinkin excited to finally be able to share this with him.  Usually he is the one staying home and manning the fort so I can do what I do.  He’s amazing and selfless and beyond supportive in this way.  And while it is very difficult for both of us to travel, I really felt the need for him to experience Korah directly.  After countless words and tears trying to make him (and anyone else who hasn’t been) understand,  I am still incapable of communicating the powerful hold Korah has on those who witness this place.

Because, it’s not enough for him to know ABOUT Korah…I needed him, the person who matters more than any other to me, to KNOW Korah.

 I’m not sure how many other couples regard Korah Ethiopia as a romantic destination but for us, it sort of is.

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Heading Back To Ethiopia

In less than a week I’m heading back to Korah Ethiopia.  This will be my third trip in a year.

Its hard to explain the connection I feel to Korah.  I have no obvious reason to be there.  I did not adopt a child from there or even know a single Ethiopian before I traveled there last January.  That first trip was more about my own personal wander lust, that and a curiosity sparked by my good friend Stacy who had recently returned from a mission trip to Korah.  But once i experienced Korah, the warmth of the people, the smiles of the children and the need…the UNIMAGINABLE NEED, I was hooked.

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You’ll recall I led a team of physicians last summer on a medical brigade to Korah.  It was a small team, sort of the knock down cruise for what I hoped would be a full brigade at some point.  And that’s just how its worked out. Next week our second Brigade, this one 29 Brigadeers strong will return to Korah.

Much is planned for this brigade. We expect to see upwards of 2,000 patients.  We have added a dental hygienist to the team.  We are teaching local physicians and nurses critical skills that will survive long after our visit.

Before the medical team arrives though I will be working on another project that is near and dear to my heart. I serve as the Board President for an organization called Out of the Ashes. OA provides scholarships for kids in Korah Ethiopia, a leper colony and slum located on the edge of a garbage dump. Quite literally the OA program takes kids from the dump and places them in boarding schools where they receive food, clothing, healthcare, books, supplies and the education needed to lift them out of poverty.

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Last summer OA started its program with 51 students. (More than 3000 kids applied for scholarships!) While the program was modest in size it was well executed. The kids just completed their inaugural semester in school and I can confidently declare the OA program is a success. The kids are healthy, thriving and learning.

Unfortunately though at that same time OA was getting started another organization also providing student sponsorships under the program name Project 61, was falling apart. P61 was responsible for educating 360 kids in boarding schools, local schools and technical school. Last November P61’s board announced suddenly they would be closing the program which meant 360 kids would not be able to return to school.

The OA board, entered into discussions with P61 in an attempt to keep the kids, many of whom were seniors about to graduate, in school. P61’s board agreed to transition the program to OA however support was limited. At the end of the day OA needed to find sponsors for 360 kids…and we had to do it in 45 days!

Well call it a miracle, good luck or a phenomenal fundraising effort but as of today we have 310 of those kids sponsored!

And while that is fantastic it does leave us with 50 children still needing sponsorship.

OA’s founder (my a fore mentioned good friend Stacy) and I leave in less than one week and (GULP) one of the first heartbreaking things we will have to do in Korah is inform children without sponsors that they will not be returning to school. Can you even imagine?

Praying for miracles…

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Back on Malaria Meds…and then some

Well we are off on another medical brigade, this time to Guatemala.

I’m really excited for this trip, my second with MedWish. Simply love this incredible organization.

A total of 42 of us will be traveling to several remote mountain communities to see an expected 1500-2000 patients. We have been told that the people in these villages speak a Mayan dialectic and they are so remote that medical teams never make it to them. I’m not surprised since it will take us 4.5 hours in four wheel drive vehicles traveling over rough “not quite roads” to get to them.

So….In addition to the malaria meds we’ve packed lots of meds for motion and altitude sickness.

Should be fun…totally my kind of trip!