Children of Ethiopia

One of the most memorable trips I have taken past was to Ethiopia. There have been few trips that have left such a mark on my inner most being. Aside from the level of poverty I witnessed, it was the simple joy that the children displayed in the face of such hardships.

My partner and I decided to join a Humanitarian group that was bringing aide to the Great Rift Valley village of Sheshamene. We brought medical aide, new baby packages, hygiene kits and items needed for fresh water filters.  There were twenty of us in the group including doctors and nurses, engineers and workers.

The drive through the Rift Valley was beautiful and aside from a small village of round mud huts and the procession of women walking along the side of the road with jugs of water on their heads, the abject poverty was not apparent. The road soon turned off and we were on our way to the village. The closer we got the more people we encountered… the children appeared out of the bush and ran along side the bus for the last mile smiling and yelling hello.

The next week we would be living in a makeshift tent village surrounded by armed guards and bramble bushes to keep out the hyenas and other nocturnal beasts that roamed the plains. We assisted the hundreds of villagers… some walking days to get medical aide from our doctors. We went into the village and built raised stoves with proper ventilation, helped them with drip irrigation, and showed them how to build clean water filters.

This trip changed my life forever.  It always amazes me that people can live in such conditions and still find something to smile about… something to live for.  The children and adults alike loved to swarm around us to get their pictures taken with our digital cameras and then would want to see their pictures in the small screen. The youngest children would walk with us and hold our hands and smile up at us with their big toothy grins. I saw things and experienced things that no person should ever see… things beyond our “fixing”.  It made me grateful for what we have… made me sad for the seriousness of these peoples short tortured lives.

 

via Daily Prompt: Swarm

Coffee Up In The Hill

Our last day on Isla Basimentos… coffee? The best coffee and organic breakfast is found at a cacao farm at the top of Basimentos. Now what no one can tell you correctly is where it is or how long of a hike it really is. It’s called Up In The Hill Coffee and Gift Shop.

We flagged down a water taxi from our dock and told him to take us to the coffee house on the hill. He dropped us off at the dock and pointed and said follow the path up the hill. Simple enough… we paid our fare and set off. It was about 9:30 and the heat was just starting to build. We found the path marked clearly at first and set off UP. The first sign said 15 minutes to In the Up in the Hill Organic Farm… 15 minutes later a sign that said 7 minutes and 10 minutes later another sign that said 7 minutes. With sweat pouring from the intense humidity and continual up hill trekking… we finally came to a muddy path with a big sign that said 7 more…
Finally forty minutes later we came to a gate Up In The Hill! We had arrived. Honestly the last thing I wanted was a hot cup of coffee, so I settled on a big glass of water and lemongrass tea.

If you ever get to Basimentos you MUST go to this coffee shop/ cacao farm. The food was amazing… the atmosphere, although thick with humidity, was charming. We were visited by the local cat, dog, chicken and rabbit. Local wares for sale adorned the walls. Fresh cacao and coconut products were offered. They have tours thru the farm, you can watch cacao being pressed or just enjoy the ambiance. Prices were very reasonable and the food delicious.