Archive for May, 2012

Carla’s Trip Journal – Installment 7

May 28, 2012

Day 6 in Addis Ababa

Kichene Feeding Center:

On Day 6 we headed out early in the morning to go to the Kichene Feeding Center. Like the All for Christ Feeding Center, Kichene provides meals for needy children and orphans living with extended families in the vicinity of the center. During the morning, while the older children in the neighborhood go to the nearby government school, the younger children in the neighborhood head to the Kichene feeding center where they have kindergarten classes and breakfast.

Caroline, Linda, Brenda and I piled into Haile’s taxi, and headed out to Kichene, with Caroline giving directions. Caroline had been there before, and told us we were in for a treat. We arrived at a very muddy, rocky incline, and Caroline called out the Amharic words for “turn right.”

Haile turned his head and looked up the incline, and asked, with the characteristic Ethiopian deadpan delivery known as “wax and gold” where sarcasm is hidden under a perfectly innocent statement or question, “By which road?”

“This road!”, replied Caroline.

“By which road?”, Haile repeated again.

At this point we all realized that the taxi probably would not have made it up the muddy, boulder-filled, ditch-scarred hill, and Caroline called up to the Kichene compound to ask for help transporting our bags of quilts up the hill. We were shortly joined by Azarat and Yohannes, two staff members from Kichene who shouldered our bags and led us up the hill to a compound which overlooked a cemetery and beyond that, a beautiful view of the city of Addis Ababa. 

 We were surrounded by small children who grabbed us by our hands and led us into a classroom. Azarat asked us all to introduce ourselves, and translated in Amharic to the children. Once we’d all spoken, a little boy asked Azarat a question, which was translated as, “Can we ask them questions?”


The first question came from a little boy in the back. “How old are they?” The adults all laughed and I started counting in Amharic on my fingers and toes. I finally announced that we were “Haya hulett!” That means “twenty-two”. The adults in the room (both Ethiopian and Americans) thought that was hilarious, but all the children nodded somberly and accepted the answer.

The second question – “What is your favorite food?” We’d been discussing how much we liked the freshness of the bananas we’d eaten in Addis. Somehow, American bananas (hothouse grown, picked when still unripe and shipped by truck to local stores all over the country) just weren’t as sweet. So I replied, “We like Ethiopian bananas very much.” The children agreed that they liked bananas, too.

Then a little girl in the front of the room asked poignantly, “Do you have mommies?” “Yes,” I replied, although both my mother and Linda’s passed away some time ago. That question had caught me entirely off-guard. I’ve learned since that so many of the children of Ethiopia are orphans that the question is a common one for children to ask new people they are meeting. It’s almost like “Where do you go to school?”, or “What grade are you in?”, or even “What do you like to eat?”, or “How old are you?” To me, it’s enormously sad that it’s become a common way to get to know about each other.

It was now time for us to go into the larger room where the KG-1 and KG-2 children were to have their morning snack. The snacks were passed out, and the children commenced to eat, except for one little girl in the back row who was so curious about us that she couldn’t take her eyes off of us. Linda smiled at her and encouraged her to eat, saying, “Yummy!” and rubbing her stomach, which delighted the little girl. Pretty soon they were both giggling, rubbing their tummies, and saying, “Yummy!”, and I’m not entirely sure that snack was ever eaten!

When snack time was over and the desks cleared, we were brought back up to the front of the room. The children sang a song to us, with Azarat’s very enthusiastic leadership. I didn’t catch all the words, but it was in English with a lot of pointing to “you”, and a final line at the end of each stanza that said, “And so am I!” with pointing to oneself. We applauded, and then Azarat asked us again to introduce ourselves to the entire group. And once again, the process of answering questions began.

A little boy in the back stood up and asked, “How old are they?” Again???? What is this obsession with age???? Once again we all laughed, I counted in Amharic, and agreed to be “Haya hulett.” The little “Yummy” girl in the back somehow got Linda to confess to being a few decades older.  Somebody remind me to talk to her.  A woman needs to preserve a little mystery, after all….

The second question, again, “What is your favorite food?” This time I was more prepared, and announced that my favorite food was “doro wat”, the Ethiopian dish of spicy chicken stew we’d had at Yod Abyssinia a few nights earlier.  Everyone approved.

Azarat asked me if I’d spent time in Ethiopia before, and I explained that my father had worked for Ethiopian Airlines, I had spent 9 years there as a child, and that I’d moved back to the States when I was 11 years old. I walked over to the maps on the wall and told the children where I’d spent my time living, with Azarat translating the whole time.  Then it was time to give out the quilts.

After the children had all received their quilts and they were all seated, Azarat led them in another song involving hand motions. Then they asked us to sing a song. Linda, Caroline and I were a bit nonplussed, but Brenda, who’s the mother of two, suggested that we do “The Hokey Pokey”, which delighted the children. Azarat said he’d have to learn that one. For the next few minutes we took turns singing to each other, with Brenda suggesting that we do the “Inky Dinky Spider” and Caroline leading us in a cheer for bananas – with a verse for “Peel Bananas”, “Chop Bananas”, “Mash Bananas”, “Eat Bananas” and finally “Go Bananas!” The kids loved it.

Finally, time to go. The children came up to thank us again, and Yummy and the others mobbed Linda, giving hugs and kisses. We left promising to transport 100 more quilts over for the older children during the next few months.

We headed down the muddy hill, and back out onto the streets of Addis. I’d wondered if anyone ever used the crosswalks.

Donkeys don’t.

Nor do most of the people.


Turns out the sheep use them! 

Lunch on the way home was at the China Bar and Restaurant. Not the same building as we’d gone to in my childhood, but a lot of the same décor, and the “nylon noodle soup” and sweet and sour pork was the best I’ve ever tasted. 

That night was our last night in Addis, and we had a wonderful dinner with the group at Cherokee House. I think we all felt sad about leaving, but we had had such a wonderful time. It’s so wonderful to give, and so rewarding to see the happiness that the children felt at having their own quilts.

We’d like to express our thanks to Cherokee Gives Back, to the group at Cherokee – especially Caroline – and Haile, for making this trip one of the best experiences of our lives.

I’d also like to thank Brenda and Linda for coming with me to re-trace the trails of my childhood.

And finally, I’d like to thank all the quilters who made these quilts with love for needy children, and all of our donors who helped to make it possible. God bless you all!

Best regards,



Quilts Headed to Burundi

May 25, 2012

Ginger Kauffman posted to her blog about some of the quilts she will be taking to Burundi with her when she leaves. The quilts will be among 300 which we are sending to Sister Connection’s kids camp, a camp that is run for the children of dispossessed widows in Burundi. To read more, and see the pictures of the quilts, please go to Ginger’s Blog:


Carla’s Trip Journal – Installment 6

May 24, 2012

First, my profound apologies for allowing so much time to pass between Installments 5 and 6. I just got back from MQS in Overland Park, and I finally gave in to the cold and cough that have been hanging on and getting worse for the last couple of weeks. I’ve spent the last 3 days in bed, and I have a doctors appointment in the morning, so I think I’m on the road to recovery. Therefore — on with Installment 6!

Addis Ladies Sewing Circle

When we made our arrangements to stay at Cherokee House in Ethiopia we asked Caroline and Kim at Cherokee Gives Back if there was anything we could do to help out — perhaps teach sewing classes to a group of orphans or something like that? They replied that they’d like us to teach a group of 5 ladies with some English and some sewing skills to sew something that they could, in turn, teach a group of 25 young HIV positive single mothers. These single mothers had been evicted from their homes, had no skills, and were not always well enough to do manual labor, so Cherokee and the ladies we would be teaching wanted to teach them something so they could build skills to generate some income to be able to afford housing and keep their children with them.

We agreed on a project that would allow them to make something they could sell immediately to tourists and others — tote bags. After all, doesn’t every tourist need a big tote bag for all the swag and maybe some small ones for gift bags?

Before leaving for Ethiopia I made up a couple of prototypes of tote bags with blocks for outside pockets:
1. a small one with a pinwheel block pocket, using a technique for a pinwheel block that I learned from the Missouri Quilt Company’s Youtube tutorial:

2. a larger one that had a hidden wells block pocket. For this one I used the Three Dudes technique, which you can see on this Youtube tutorial:

Here’s how the prototypes looked:

Both bags are lined, and the large one also has a pocket inside for cell phone, notepad, keys or whatever. These were made out of cotton so they’d be easy to fold and transport to be used for shopping bags, but they could be made of canvas for heavier toting.

Prior to leaving for Addis I went shopping to equip basic sewing kits with scissors, thread, pins, ruler, tape measure, and seam ripper, and I put together some fabric kits that would allow each of the 5 women to make both tote bags and have fabric left over for a couple more. I chose fat quarters of animal prints (no tigers! They don’t exist in Africa!), the colors of the Ethiopian flag (green, yellow and red), basic black and muslin.

I had big plans for properly documenting the patterns using PowerPoint, but ran out of time before I had to get on the plane, so I brought my notes with Plan B to finish the patterns during my very long layover in Frankfurt. I think the fates were aligned against me, as I was using an app that didn’t really have the function of PowerPoint I needed (you know, graphics? Oh — and SAVING???) so Plan B didn’t work out too well. Plan C was to keep my notebook with my scribbled notes with me and play it by ear. It’s not like I never had to tap dance before!

For the first day of class we met the ladies at a “feeding center” run by a All for Christ, in an area on the outskirts of Addis not far from the Good Shepherd School I had attended. (The school is a military base now, so a visit wasn’t in the cards.) A feeding center is a place where children (often orphans living with extended family or children from very needy families) will come for meals. There are many needy families in this area, so the compound was very lively and busy.

We were brought into a room where we met our 5 students and Senait, an attorney who worked with “All for Christ” and who would be our translator. We had two machines to share among the five, and we started with the small bag. Two of the ladies, Enanu and Bezuwerk had considerable sewing experience. Enanu made children’s clothing, and Bezuwerk showed us a lovely handbag that she had made. Okay, let’s be honest, either of these two could have easily taught this class!

On day one we mad great progress on the first bag, and agreed to meet at Cherokee House the following two afternoons, where we would also have an additional sewing machine. Day two, we finished the little bag and got a start on the big bag. Here’s a shot of the ladies showing the first bag:

From left to right, the ladies are: Almaz, Aberash, Senait (with the prototype), Enanu, Beletu (seated) and Bezuwerk. Note how pretty and different all the bags turned out to be!

We all had a great time during our three sewing sessions.  Given that our translator, Senait, didn’t have sewing experience, I wasn’t sure whether it was going to be difficult to get my (undocumented!) instructions across, but she did a fabulous job of translating, and everyone caught on really well.  It was also wonderful to have both Brenda and Linda to help, since the ladies had to trade off on the machines, so we could work on different aspects at different times without too much disruption.

As you can see, we had fun, and got things done!

I was really impressed with the way the ladies who finished first helped the others, and how they explained things to each other.  I think this group will do very well teaching the 25 young mothers that they will be teaching.

Bezuwerk finished the first large bag — isn’t it pretty? 

As all the ladies finished, we had them pose with their pictures.  Don’t the bags look great, and don’t the ladies look proud of their accomplishments?

Finally a picture of what we’ve dubbed the Addis Ladies’ Sewing Circle:

One of the best things is to share skills with others who will share skills with others!  I wish all these ladies great success in their sewing classes.  And the next time any of us is in Ethiopia, if you’re approached by someone who wants to sell you one of these very distinctive, functional, and pretty tote bags, please buy one — or more!!  It’s for a very good cause!



Call for Quilts Going to Russia

May 22, 2012

Orphan Outreach

Quilts Beyond Borders has forged a new relationship with Orphan Outreach, located in Plano, TX. Orphan Outreach’s mission is to improve ”the lives of orphans and at-risk children in Guatemala, Honduras, Russia and India through early intervention, education and evangelism.” This is a similar mission shared by Quilts Beyond Borders, which has motivated the work we have done in countries in Africa, as well as Haiti, and Central America. We are grateful to have an opportunity to team up and help Orphan Outreach with an up-coming mission trip to Russia.

The Request

The organization has asked Quilts Beyond Borders to help fulfill a special need for 24 young Russian women, who will soon be graduating from the orphanage and moving into their own apartment. The 24 quilts need to be 42X60 inches long and the style should be considered for a young woman, aged 17-20 years old. They should also be machine quilted and machine bound in order to hold up to severe laundry conditions.

As well, Orphan Outreach has requested 12 additional baby quilts for those girls who are currently pregnant. These quilts should be at least 36 inches by 48 inches.

Pease include a label for each included quilt you send. The label should read:
Quilts Beyond Borders
Made for You with Love
By (Quilter’s Name)
Belongs to (Space for Recipient’s Name)

The Deadline

We are asking Quilt Beyond Borders volunteers to commit to making one or more of these 36 quilts by Friday, August 31, 2012. This means the quilts need to be finished and ready to send no later than this date. Please email Quilts Beyond Borders  to inform us of your commitment to completing one or more of these quilts by August 31, 2012. We will respond letting you know where you may send the quilt(s) once completed.

We thank you in advance for your willingness to continue your volunteerism with Quilts Beyond Borders. This is a new opportunity and country for Quilts Beyond Borders, and we cannot express our enthusiasm enough. We hope you are equally as excited about enriching the lives of young orphan women and children through your love of quilting.

Returned Completed Tops from IQF Kits

May 16, 2012

I recently sent out an email touching base with some of you who took kits from the 2011 International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX. Thank you to Rosemary, Judy, and Susan for completing your quilt tops and send them back for quilting. An additional thanks is needed because they also sent backing material. This makes prepping the quilts for longarm quilting easier on our volunteer regional coordinators.

Rosemary, from Houston,and Judy, of Caldwell, each completed one kit, and Susan, from the Woodlands, completed two.

Thank you, Judy, Susan, and Rosemary for completing the kits and returning them. They will soon be sent off to one of our amazing volunteer longarm quilters. Quilting- it’s a journey. – Jodi

Carla’s Trip Journal – Installment 5

May 15, 2012

Day 4 in Addis Ababa

AHope Orphanage:
Day 4 we went to the AHope Orphanage. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Carolyn, Karen, Jean and Sharon went to AHope last year, and delivered quilts to the children there. We were there to deliver some more quilts to some of the newest and smallest children. We started with a tour of the orphanage. Many of the children’s rooms had been painted by volunteers, and it was a very cheerful environment. See the sweet little guy sleeping in the yellow crib? He’s one of the newest residents. We tried to tiptoe so as to not wake him up.

Then the children were brought in from the yard, and we started to give out the quilts. See the cute little guy who’s checking out the quilt given to the first little girl? He got with the program right away, and was SO excited to receive his quilt. It was clearly the high point of his whole day, and his excitement was contagious.

There were also several prospective adoptive parents there. The lady with the white sweater and the dark hair is Gina, who was thrilled to be with her new son, Biruk.

   On our way home we spotted a familiar face on a billboard.   Then we stopped for some magnificent coffee. I’ll be at the Tassimo soon, trying to get mine to look like this! It was so pretty I could hardly bring myself to drink it!

And we stopped to pose for a picture. From left, it’s me, Linda and Brenda. You can tell what a great time we’ve been having in Ethiopia!

Stay tuned!  More to come!



Carla’s Trip Journal – Installment 4

May 14, 2012

 Day 3 in Addis Ababa


You probably remember that Madonna song from the early ‘80’s, “Papa, Don’t Preach”. Well, my Papa DID preach! No, he wasn’t a preacher, but he came from six generations of Lutheran ministers, and he broke his mother’s heart when he didn’t become one. And he’d have been a great one, as he could always give great speeches.

Anyway, when we first moved to Ethiopia in 1957 there wasn’t a Lutheran church we could go to, but by the end of the year that had changed. My parents were two of the first adult members of the congregation, and my father was president of the congregation for many of the years while we were in Ethiopia. My sister and I were confirmed in the church the year before we moved back to the States.

(Note: This picture is from the ILC Website,
So, when I went to Ethiopia last month, I was delighted to find out that the church was still there, in the same building where I had attended confirmation classes and was confirmed. Caroline, Linda, Brenda and I attended, and were introduced as guests, along with two couples who had come from the US to adopt Ethiopian children. There was also a group there from the Sudan who asked for prayers for their church, which had been attacked by Islamic extremists the previous week.

Sitting in the pew, so many things seemed just the same — the wooden cross, the light fixtures, the balcony area where we attended confirmation classes. The soundproofing was still rather poor between the Sunday School area and the nave, a constant reminder that the children weren’t far away. And when a baby started to cry, I could practically hear my father turn and hiss to my mother, “Why doesn’t someone take that God-damned kid out of here!” (In retrospect, there were probably good reasons that Dad didn’t become a minister!)

And some things were different. The traditional hymnal has given way to a more modern songbook, and the accompanist played a guitar. But for me, who had gone to missionary schools for several of my years in Ethiopia, who had attended Sunday school downstairs, had attended confirmation classes in the balcony area, and had secretly wished the church would allow me, a girl, to be a minister, the very most exciting change was the minister, Ann. You GO, Girl!!

Heading to Hanna’s Orphans Home:
After the service we headed to another orphanage to deliver quilts. Along the way I couldn’t help but notice that it looked like “Bring your Goat to Work Day”. Goats everywhere!

I also got a kick out of this shoestore window display…

  … and found an interesting juxtaposition between the ramshackle and unsteady construction on the left side of the street and the shiny modern buildings on the right.

Hanna’s Orphans Homes:

At the compound for Hanna’s Orphans Home we were introduced to Hanna, who runs several group homes and a couple of “prison orphanages”, where the children of prisoners who have no extended family live (as an alternative to actually living in the prisons with their parents). The children in Addis live in several group homes of about 6-8 children, and are brought to the main compound for their lessons and to play every day. We were given a tour and brought into a room to distribute the quilts. As I waited to step into the room, I felt a tiny hand grasp mine. I looked down into the face of a small girl, about 3 years old. I asked her name, and she replied in a voice too quiet for me to hear. A girl of 5 or so, standing with a protective arm around the little one’s shoulder, looking out for her little friend, told me her friend’s name and her age. I was very touched to see the way these little children looked out for each other, and how protective they were of the littlest ones.


After the distribution we took some group shots, and Hanna wrote the names of the children on the “Belongs to” line on the labels of their quilts. I noticed that the children didn’t want to let go of their precious quilts, even while playing, jumping rope, and watching a buddy get a haircut.

Villa Verde:
Since coming to Addis, I’d been hoping to find the Villa Verde, a restaurant that I’d gone to many times with my family 4 decades earlier. Villa Verde set the standard for lasagna for many of us who grew up in Addis Ababa, with a sauce that was cheesier and creamier than most of the lasagna sauces I’ve eaten in the US. Hanna knew where the restaurant was, so we stopped in, even though it was only about 4:30 in the afternoon. When we arrived it felt instantly familiar to me, even though the building was painted entirely different colors than the Villa Verde I’d known in my childhood. Tthe manager told us that their chef, Franco, was in Italy for a two week vacation, so if we wanted Pizza or traditional Ethiopian food they’d be happy to accommodate us – but if we wanted lasagna, we were out of luck. Having had pizza and doro wat very recently, we decided to pass. I’ll have to try it again on my next trip to Ethiopia, and I’ll email ahead of time to make sure Franco stays put!  I’m sure he wasn’t the chef 46 years ago, but perhaps the lasagna recipe was passed from chef to chef over the years!

Pepsi vs. Coke:

Finally, as we headed back to Cherokee House for the evening, I noticed that the Pepsi vs. Coca Cola wars are not a North American Phenomenon. Every fruit stand seems to have a preference!

More tomorrow, assuming the internet connect at the hotel for MQS is cooperating!

Timeless Treasures Samples

May 13, 2012

Phyllis Simpson from Houston, TX made these adorable tops.  She helped out in the booth at IQF last year and took home some of the salesman samples that were donated by Timeless Treasures.  I think stars and bats and balls and hot dogs one is the cutest thing.  Thank you, Phyllis and Timeless Treasures for your donation for the children.


Carla’s Trip Journal – Installment 3

May 13, 2012

Second Day in Addis Ababa

(NOTE:  Many of these photos were taken from the car, thus the “glarey” aspect you’ll see in some of them.  As always, please click on the pictures to see them in a larger view.)

For our second day in Addis, Caroline had scheduled us to spend the day sightseeing. We started out by having breakfast at the Umma Hotel, and then moving to Cherokee House. Once we were settled into our room we started out for Mt. Entoto. On our way, we drove through streets filled with livestock going to market.

The streets were really bustling that day. I remember that both my parents used to drive when we lived in Ethiopia in the 50’s and 60’s, but I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to do it now. The streets are filled with pedestrians and animals, all of whom think they have the right of way and apparently believe they’re indestructible, and there aren’t a lot of discernibly marked lanes or crosswalks. While I don’t think the drivers are as aggressive as they are in China or Rome, they are certainly assertive. Surprisingly, there isn’t a lot of honking, but there’s a lot of weaving, speeding up, and braking to avoid collisions.

In my book, no one can load a vehicle like an Ethiopian. You know that advertisement where the mattress company promises they can get you a mattress in 2 hours? I bet this truck can get it to you in 1 hour, with enough for each of your extended family members!

The public transportation includes lots of blue and white taxis, mini-buses and other vehicles that can fill the bill, all painted white and blue.  There don’t seem to be a lot of regulations about maximum occupancy….

Other attractions we passed along the way included produce stands and shops, billboards for Teddy Afro’s latest CD, some construction projects with (to my eye) very “iffy” scaffolding, and several Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Churches. Ethiopia is considered one of the oldest Christian countries in the world, and has a proud biblical heritage going back to one of the wisemen, and even earlier to the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. The population of Addis also includes about 30% Muslims, and it’s not uncommon to wake up to a very early call to prayer from a nearby mosque.

Mt. Entoto is the highest peak overlooking Addis Ababa, reaching almost 10,500 feet above sea level. Each morning scores of women, old and young, walk up the mountain and gather wood which they carry down the mountain to sell to customers for fuel. They aren’t paid very much at all for the wood, and each day they have to climb higher, as they have deforested the lower parts of the mountain.

Almost to the top of the mountain we paused for a photo op and were promptly surrounded by young fellows hoping to sell us the latest in fashionable chapeaux…

At the top of Mt. Entoto there are several buildings where we spent time. The first was the Entoto Museum, which held several artifacts of religious and regal importance. Photos were not allowed there, but it was definitely worth seeing. The second building was where King Menelik II built his palace when he designated Addis Ababa to be the capital of Ethiopia. It was a humble building, compared to the more ostentatious palaces of Europe, but it had a large reception room with various doorways which were designated to be used by people of various importence. It also had a very large bedroom for the King and Queen. Also on the grounds were other buildings including a guest house.

After the palace we went through an area with humble shacks and lean-tos and were informed that the priests and nuns lived in that section. Then we walked up to the Entoto Mariam Church, built in the 1880’s. The church has a door for the entrance of men and another door for the women. We found there were people at both doors, prostrate in prayer. A small gold domed building nearby looked important, but I was told it was just used for storage. The gazebo was used by the Priests on religious occasions to address crowds.

Driving back down Mt. Entoto it had begun to rain. At Caroline’s suggestion we stopped into a building with a sign that said “Former Women Fuelwood Carriers Association”. This is a project for the benefit of women who were no longer able to carry the large bundles of wood down the mountain. We entered to discover a room with multiple looms and people weaving cotton scarves. Brenda, Carolyn and I all gave it a try. You can kind of get a rhythm going, but I suspect it would take a while to get truly proficient. Brenda, who is a prolific knitter, has done a lot of different things with wool (spinning, dying, etc.) and you could see the wheels turning in her head. I suspect she has plans for the former bedrooms of one of her sons. Do you feel a loom coming on??? Then we went next door to see the completed scarves. We each bought several. We’re hoping to have a booth at the International Quilt Festival in Houston again this year, and if so, we will offer some of these scarves for sale to raise funds for Quilts Beyond Borders.

Coming back down into the city we passed the beautiful gates of Addis Ababa University and the Martyr’s Monument on our way to the National Museum.

At the museum we saw several statues on the grounds…

…the very large throne of the late Emperor Haile Selassie…

..the most comfortable and form-fitting stool ever created,

a replica of Lucy (the oldest human),

… a model of Selam (the earliest child),

several skulls through the ages….

… the first car to enter Ethiopia…
And many sculptures and artifacts, including these magnificent pieces (which look like something I glimpsed in the bathroom mirror this morning on my way out of the shower!)…
On the way back to Cherokee House we passed the statue of Menelik II on horseback.

That evening we went to Yod Abyssinia for dinner for a traditional meal of injera and doro wat (bread and spicy chicken stew), served in a communal dish. Entertainment was provided by a group of musicians playing Ethiopian music on native instruments, joined by a troupe of dancers who danced several tribal dances wearing the various tribal costumes. Enjoy!

Then, off to home, and to bed, with plans for church in the morning and another delivery of quilts to another orphanage. Stay tuned! More to come!

Carla’s Trip Journal – Installment 2

May 11, 2012


First Day in Addis Ababa

We arrived at the Umma Hotel.  Like many hotels in other countries, the main floor (where reception and the lobby is) is considered “0” (thus the phrase “Ground Zero”), and the floors above are numbered 1, 2, 3 and so on.  What that means is that when we were assigned rooms starting with 3, and informed that the elevators weren’t working, eleven bags filled with compressed quilts had to go up to the fourth floor via the stairs – as did we!  Addis is 8000 feet above sea level, so if the jet-lag wasn’t enough to knock us out, the altitude and the stairs were ready to deliver the coup de grace!  By the time we reached our rooms we were ready to fall face down on our beds and not get up for a week!  That said, I did muster enough to crawl to the window and take a few pictures of the view.

(Note:  I’m putting all pictures up in thumbnail mode for the sake of space.  Please click on them to see them close up. Those who have been to Ethiopia will recognize the mountains in the distance.  The Umma Hotel is not far from the Old Airport and the Addis Ababa Golf Club.)


The next two pictures, taken with zoom, were really “Ethiopia” to me.  Between the donkeys and the woman with the bundle on her head, I was feeling at home again!


We snoozed for an hour or two, showered, and as soon as we began to feel human again, Caroline and Haile were there, ready to take us back to Cherokee House to fluff up quilts for the afternoon delivery to the Kingdom Vision International (KVI) orphanage.  We had lunch at a pizza place and then headed up Churchill Road on an unsuccessful attempt to allow me to see my first childhood home in Ethiopia.  Most of the residences in Ethiopia are surrounded by tall walls, and while I was pretty sure I found the compound we weren’t able to talk ourselves past the guard to peek inside.

Then, still having some time to kill while waiting for the school day to be over, we headed to a place called “Topview” for an ice cream before heading out to KVI.  This was actually rather momentous for me, as ice cream wasn’t a common treat in the Addis Ababa of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s.  In fact, as a child when I was asked “what Ethiopia is like” I could never really answer, because to any child their home isn’t single dimensional and can’t be encapsulated in a few words.  But I do remember that once when I was asked “what America is like” I announced with great authority that America had “the best toilet paper and the best ice cream in the world!”  So, going to Topview for an ice cream is a clear sign of progress in Addis!

We also used the restrooms at Topview, and discovered that they were differentiated by two carved masks wearing head-dresses.  Unfortunately we couldn’t tell which head-dress was feminine and which was masculine, so we needed to ask someone so we’d go to the right room!  The person who showed us had a bemused smile, indicating that this happens frequently with tourists!

Here are a few of the pictures I took along the way…

and at Topview.  The gentleman in the second picture is our driver and guide, Haile.

Kingdom Vision International Orphanage

Finally, to Kingdom Vision International.  When we arrived at the compound the older children were still in their lessons.  We were brought in by a nurse who showed us around the infirmary and the nursery rooms.  There were three rooms for the babies and toddlers, one for those under 1 year, one for children between 1 and 2, and a third larger room for the children 2-4 years.

When the older children completed their classes we were brought outside to present the quilts, first to the younger school-aged children, then to older ones, and then finally we’d go back in to provide quilts to the toddlers and babies.  In all, we provided about 50 quilts to this group.  I was the primary photographer, and Caroline, who speaks some Amharic and definitely relates to kids beautifully, led the giving of the quilts.

The Big Kids:

Babies, 1-2 years:

These little ones were adorable, and I think Linda wanted to take all of them home!  Especially little Selamoet, the little girl in the green top.

The Tiny Ones:

There were four children under 1 year, 3 boys and a girl.  All of them were abandoned early on by their parents, including one baby boy who was found in the toilet of a hospital.

The Toddlers and Tykes:

Sometimes I guess it’s a little tough to get away and find a quiet, private place to play!

 The “Mommies”:

“Mommie” is a term of respect and honor for a woman, particularly an older woman in a mentoring or care-giving role.  The actual Amharic word for “mother” is “ehmaye”.  These women were among the caregivers at KVI, and I heard several of the children refer to them as “Mommie”.    I was really impressed with the care and love these “Mommies” showed to the children at KVI.


And a New Family:

One of the other nice things about visiting KVI was the presence of a young Canadian couple who was adopting a child from Ethiopia.   They were so happy to be finally bringing their child “home to Canada.”  We wish them great luck, love and happiness, and congratulate all three of them for this wonderful opportunity.

More tomorrow!