a journey to Ethiopia...
Kiara visits her sponsored child in Ethiopia
- Kiara, SOS Children, Ghana
My Journey to Harrar...
During my school’s Easter holidays, I chose to travel from Ghana to Ethiopia to visit the young boy I sponsor in the fascinating village of Harrar. Six of my 11th grade students come from SOS Villages in Ethiopia, so I had a plethora of information about various stops I had to make, sites I had to see, and dishes I needed to sample. Although none of my current students come from Harrar, some had visited the village as members of sports and academic teams. They were all very enthusiastic about my journey.
My trip began in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. Addis is a bustling and rapidly modernizing metropolis filled with wonderful restaurants, congenial taxi drivers, and a soothing climate. I was sad to have only a short stay in the city and I want to return someday to spend more time exploring the markets and savoring the outdoor coffee culture.
I reached Harrar via minivan. For about two hours, there were eighteen of us crowded into a twelve-person van. The road into town is paved, it is winding and it is beautiful. Small farms merge with bustling villages and groups of people do business in clusters along the highway. Harrar itself is the final stop of the journey.
I stayed inside the “jegol” – which is Harrar’s ancient walled city. It is about three kilometers from the SOS Village and the best way to get from one place to another is via a “bajaj” – which is a little tuk-tuk with an Ethiopian twist.
Because I had two full days in Harrar, I was able to visit the SOS Village twice. This proved to be a privilege, as I got to know my sponsor child and his siblings a little bit better than I would have in only one, short stop. On the first day, I was given a tour of the expansive village by the Sponsorship Director. I was then introduced to my sponsor child as his SOS mom prepared a coffee ceremony in my honor. During the ceremony, I enjoyed the company of 10 children who all range in age from 5 to 10. Actually, they were the quietest bunch of kids I’ve ever met! We sat in near silence eating popcorn and smiling at each other until the newest member of the house (a gregarious 4 year old) began giggling and doing somersaults off of the side of the sofa. It was only then that the group began to come out of their shells.
The boy I came to visit seemed a bit over whelmed at being the center of attention. He was shy, but happy to accept my gift (a set of crayons and coloring books), to show me his room and to display his graduation picture from kindergarten.
It was on day two, however, when the formalities went away. When I arrived, it was as if I had known the kids forever. They squealed and laughed and escorted me out back to play jump-rope. One of the older girls tried to teach me some Amharic . As she stood within inches of my face, she said amesege'nallo (“thank you”) one syllable at a time. I was compelled to repeat the sounds and then the entire word over and over again until I had the pronunciation mastered. She’s a future teacher if ever there was one!
Unlike the previous day, the boy I sponsor was quite happy to be the focus of attention. He showed me that he had colored some of the pages in the books I gave him and he gleefully made me a cup of tea that had at least six spoons of sugar in it. When I left, he stood at the bottom of the hill and waved to me as I began my journey back home.
I loved my trip to SOS Harrar. It was a highlight of my year. My sponsorship gave me a reason to travel to a place I knew nothing about and it made me realize how vast and important the SOS Villages program actually is. There really is no better way to understand the scope and scale of SOS than to invest in and to visit the children who call each village home.
- Oana, SOS Children, Romania
Catch up with Oana next time...