It is hard to believe my time here is already half way through. And it is even harder to describe everything I’m seeing and feeling, as if with new eyes…
This past week has been like returning to my childhood, spending almost the entire day playing, singing, dancing, and just acting silly with girls who have nothing but unconditional love for us. It is amazing that in only two weeks some of these kids come to love you as much as it takes someone from our own country to love in a year. It is almost impossible to ever be in a bad mood, as their love and joy is extremely contagious.
Of course, there is also the amazing Ethiopian coffee that keeps us awake and lively when most of the volunteers are so tired we could sleep standing up. In fact, I have been fortunate enough to be invited to several kids’ homes where they prepare their traditional coffee for us in a special ceremonial way that is of great honor to be able to attend. It is a true insight into these girl’s lives when you are invited into their home. You see how it is only the mother and daughters of the household that do all the work. You see that the living room, “master” bedroom, and all the children’s bedrooms become one. You hear the father complaining about how his daughter is lazy and not smart enough, even though after spending only two weeks here I already know that his daughter is nothing but strong and intelligent (maybe if he saw how lazy some kids back home are, he would think twice about what he says about his daughter).
With over 80 languages spoken in Ethiopia, 10 traditional dances from this one region alone, and more songs than I can count, this country is vibrant with culture and traditions. On one of our first days of the summer camp, we witnessed these beautiful dances when some of the girls performed their traditional dances for us, in the simplest but most beautiful dresses imaginable. It only makes you want to be able to move and dance as freely as they do. I have also become a pro at Ethiopian embroidery found on most dresses, shirts, and scarves, as the girls have been patiently teaching me. They also kindly compliment my stitching, despite the fact that all of theirs is always beyond perfect.
On our free Saturday morning (which is market day, and therefore the kids do not show up until later in the afternoon), we were introduced to two of the most famous “islands” in Ethiopia. Being a landlocked country, the only islands around here are the ones in the middle of Zway lake, right next to the town that takes its’ name, and where we are coincidently staying. These islands radiate nothing but peace and untouched beauty, as there is not a single English sign anywhere, nor a single concrete tower, car, blasting radio, or artificial lights to be seen. It is amazing and so incredibly rare to see places that have not been invaded by western modernizations, and that remain as they were thousands of years ago.
[Photo credit: all images are mine unless otherwise stated here]