Carla’s Trip Journal – Installment 2


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!


10 Responses to “Carla’s Trip Journal – Installment 2”

  1. Janet Says:

    What an amazing journey and experience! I do wonder about one thing, Are you sure “The flight from Dallas to Frankfurt took about 1000 hours.” ? That’s over 41 days! ; )

  2. quiltsbeyondborders Says:

    Ah… You caught me! Actually I think it was about 10 hours, but it really felt like 1000. When the guy in front of you leans his seat back so he’s got his head on your ample bosom and the guy behind you has really long legs and his knees keep you from leaning your seat back to get out from under the guy in front of you, it feels like about 41 days…. I’m not a tall person, but these airline seat rows are just way too close together! More legroom would be just SO wonderful for these long trips!


  3. Janet Says:

    I would suffer an attack of claustriphobia if I were put in your position! I’m not a flyer but still wonder about the courtesy of someone who thinks nothing of filling your lap with his seat. 😦 I think I might be inclined to give him a Woody Woodpecker type tapping on the head!

    I had wondered how you got the quilts to Ethiopia and what the cost doing it is. It sounds like its time for everyone to put their heads together with a sharing of experiences as well as polling the airlines about what they would offer you as a charity. After all of that is done you can put together a guide for making the trips less difficult and expensive.

    Blessing to all who participate.

  4. quiltsbeyondborders Says:

    Yes, I’m considering a healthy diet of Garlic-infused foods during the days leading up to the trip so I can breath dragon breath on the top of his head when he leans the chair back! Although that would punish everyone in my immediate vicinity, so perhaps that’s not a good idea!

    We used up a lot of frequent flyer miles to defray some of the expense of the trip. We also work with a lot of other groups who are going on missions to Ethiopia or the other countries we serve and we send quilts along with them for delivery by them(or to be held for delivery by us if we’re planning a trip) to the recipients.

    We can’t use mail, as the quilts may be held up by Customs in the countries we serve, so personal delivery is best.

    Prior to our next voyage, though, we’ll do what you suggest and contact the airlines to see if they can offer us anything to alleviate the expense. Thanks for the suggestion!


  5. Ollie Gayle Kryszczuk Says:

    Carla, this is so great. You are all wonderful people. I am so proud of you & your group. Thanks you for your time to make the quilts, your time to deliver them,for making all the photos & for writing about it so we can all enjoy it. This is a wonderful thing you all do.Ollie

    • quiltsbeyondborders Says:

      Thanks, Ollie. I consider myself blessed to be able to do this. We have so many wonderful volunteers who have helped us out and made so many beautiful quilts for the children.


  6. Nan Vermillion Says:

    Loved the last installment and the photos! Fantastic!!!!!

  7. Vicki Kennett Says:

    Beautiful! I love looking at all the pictures, Carla thanks for sharing and Linda thank you…I love your little girl she is adorable. The quilts are lovely just stunning. I keep going back to look again and again. This is such a great cause, I hope to see a book written one day about this adventure.

  8. Odyssey of Ozington and his Quilt | Quilts Beyond Borders Says:

    See an update on this blog post in our blog at:

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