Archive for 'Africa'

Meet the doctors and their amazing team!  The people in Dera, Ethiopia needed them, anticipated them, and were so grateful for them.   We stepped off of the bus, and started walking towards the empty clinic on day one, and a group of 30+ Ethiopians are waiting near the door to the clinic.  They see us coming, and they all quietly stand and start clapping in unison.  I get goosebumps.  As we approach the doors, and I start shooting images of all of these colorful and wonderful people, I capture the oldest of the old, the youngest of the young.  We communicate easily without knowing each others language.  I take a picture of them, and then I show them the picture on my LCD screen, and they look at it and laugh.  I then place my hand across my chest and I say “gelatoma!”  Which I think means “thank you” but they all laugh at me.  Am I saying it wrong?  I am laughing too.  I feel a connection with them and it feels like home, even though that sounds so weird, it does.

The dental team (doctors and assistants) go right to work and set up three beach lounge chairs for their waiting patients.  They pull out a kajillion silver instruments and line them up in order.  They organize the sterilizer station, the jugs of tylenol and the buckets for spit.  Within an hour they are ready to see their first patients, and by the end of 3 very full days, they have pulled 995 teeth, and are leaving a crowd by the door begging for more of their attention.  And although I know they would stay if they could, our time is gone. I was amazed at their service, while they stayed in this clinic for 3 long days pulling teeth for so many people, I got to tromp around the village, the schools, and the countryside taking pictures.  But not one of them complained.  When you go to a place like Dera, there is no room to complain.  In fact, I think we all left our complaining behind.

I’ve been telling my kids that for years, and this one image says it all!  I think I will make it nice and big and hang it on my wall with a plaque under it that says those words; “work makes you happy”!  Then when my kids are whinny, I can just point at it and not say a word.. I am sure that my kids will really love that!

This darling girl was helping the other 200+  and our Hope Arising volunteers in Dera, Ethiopia move rocks into the classroom where we were able to help them to have a concrete floor, an improvement from their dirt and straw!  The kids were really so very happy!  And they really had nothing.  We introduced a group of kids to balloons.  Introduced them.   They have nothing.   It made me really ask myself why, and what makes my own self happy and what makes my kids happy.  I decided the mall is off my list.  But coconut cupcakes from Sprinkles are still on my list.  In the top 10, actually.

From Amy:

Being in Ethiopia for the first time was just amazing. Every corner, every moment was something new, and it would take me a week to describe it all. But for now, I have to tell you about one of my favorite experiences. I think everyone should have an experience like this once in their life, and I have Chantal, Rochelle, Betty, and Marianne to thank for allowing me to ride their coat tails and feel like a hero for the day.

We arrived at the High School early Tuesday morning in our green Scooby Doo bus. We knew they were expecting us and that they were going to have a ceremony for the 10 computers that Marianne worked so hard to get donated to the school. But no one prepared us for what we were about to experience. As the bus drove up, we all peered through the windows at what was over 2000 beautiful black students in white tops and pink and lavendar pants standing in the dirt waiting for us, and as the bus pulled to a halt a powerful clapping began, but in unison: clap, clap, clap… as if a procession was about to begin. We piled out of the bus, and the teenager volunteers in our group went right up and into the crowd, shaking hands, and saying hellos as if they had just been reunited with their best friends. The crowds slowly parted, and as the loud clapping continued, visions of the movie Madagascar flashed through my head. We were being heralded as hero’s, and I for one was not deserving. I was just there to record it all through my camera. I was taken in with their faces, so happy, so beautiful and searching mine as hard as I searched theirs. As I met them, they were warm and welcoming, like we were family meeting for the first time. It was so amazing. Eventually the crowd quieted, we were moved to our place in the ceremony, and the event began… a gratitude ceremony for Marianne and Hope Arising, and a presentation of the 10 new computers.

Above is Marianne, she led her community of 1200 people in raising over $5500 for computers and desks at 2 schools. The distinguished man with the white hair is Moosa, the town mayor.

Above is the gift of the computers, and then the school presented H.A. with the gift of their school picture. They were so very grateful.

Here is the computer room, they had only 10 computers for the 2000 students before, now they will have 20.

We developed a saying while in Ethiopia, and that was; “Your not an Ethiopian if you don’t love the camera”. They clammored to get into this shot.

Just after taking this above shot, I continued to walk towards a classroom, when they all ran up and just walked as close as they could without touching me, and 2 boys that knew better English said, “Hello, we would like to ask you some questions,” and so I answered, “Great, I would like to ask you some questions to.” The first boy asked me about what I do and how much certification I had (college and education) and why couldn’t understand why I hadn’t finished college. The entire group plus more listened in. Then the second boy turned to me and asked, “what can you teach us?” I was speechless. That question said so much more than ‘what can you teach us’. It said; we are hungry, we want to learn, to grow and to improve our lives, we are ready, can you help. It was a question much bigger than I was at that moment, and a question that I will never forget.

One of the things the students pointed out when we had some one on one time was the challenge of being able to focus with 3 students per desk.

I love the image above. I could see this one super large on the wall. I love how you could interpret a million different stories from it.

This kid let me take his picture, then started cracking up for the next shot. I love that they have humor and were probably laughing at me. That happened alot.

The library was a must see on our tour of the school. The wall you see behind the librarian is all the books they have. They are desperate for more books.

David, our Canadian teen volunteer showing them where his home is.

I love the picture of their book, and their feet. The book is so old you can’t even read the title. And the feet look surprisingly clean considering their isn’t water to wash with. These sandals were seen all over town, and the shredded pants were very normal as well.