Gladney Baby House / Soccer / Dinner / Home!
Today was a great final day. We started out by going to the Gladney baby homes. For those of you who don’t know, Gladney is the US adoption agency that we used for Sophie’s adoption. It was so strange (and wonderful) to pull up to the baby house where we met her for the first time four years ago. I could distinctly remember my heart racing a million miles a minute the last time and although I was much calmer this time, I was also excited and nervous. The houses themselves are in a suburb of Addis. I think the area seemed much more built up to me since 2007, when we were here last. The baby house itself looked the same, but many of the caregivers are no longer there. I had brought pictures that I had taken in 2007 of each caregiver with Sophie, so I was able to leave about half of them there along with a recent picture of Sophie. It does always feel good to see how well taken care of these babies are. They have a pediatrician on staff and everything is so clean. The babies were ADORABLE!! Again, I can’t post any pictures of the babies since many have already been matched with or referred to families in the US and that could hinder the process. Of course, if any of you have babies waiting, comment here with your email address and I’m happy to send them to you!
I was lucky enough to meet the newly referred daughter of the Winters of Oklahoma. She is a DOLL! I was pulling out the old Sherlock Daileader and asking Belay about them to see if I could get any info for them. Little did I know it wasn’t needed because they had just received their referral!
After the baby house, we visited the two toddler houses and the older child house. There were lots of kids in the house for older children and none of them had been matched. They have several sibling groups there, and apparently they are less likely to be referred because fewer people request older sibling groups. Hopefully, that will start to change as the process becomes longer for infants and toddlers!
After a final coffee ceremony at the baby house (we all agreed that this was the best coffee we had had by far), we headed back to the hotel for a quick lunch. That is actually impossible in Ethiopia, so 45 minutes later Matt scarfed down his fries before we headed out to meet Soccer Ephrem and his soccer players.
I was excited to be able to see him and see the jerseys in action, but it wasn’t quite what we expected. We had two drivers with two vans that brought us to Meskal Square where everyone was meeting. Apparently, this was the safest place to meet where a soccer game could occur, but it wasn’t all that comfortable. We were fine with Ephrem and the drivers, but we made it pretty short and sweet. Whenever there’s a big crowd of ferengi (foreigners), the beggars will come out and see all the “rich” people. They are relatively harmless, but it does get old to be constantly asked for money, gum, candy, etc. Mostly because you want to give a little to everyone, but then that everyone becomes a mob and it’s really just not worth creating the chaos. Matt did have a great time playing soccer with the big boys. He couldn’t believe how good a group of homeless kids could be just playing a pick-up game on the cement with rocks for goal posts! It was also great to see all of the Darien and other uniforms being worn in Africa. Ephrem had set these quick pick-up games up for our picture-taking purposes, but he is going to send me pictures of the actual tournament that he hosts with all of his sponsored children, which will be much more organized, and will include many more kids. After the meeting, he met us back at the hotel and I gave him some Birr to treat his kids to a big pizza party that night. About $30 was going to feed a lot of kids pizza!
Here is Matt and I posing with "Soccer Ephrem" at Meskal Square with a bunch of street kids in King shirts (as in King Low in Stamford!! - thanks to them for the great uniforms)
Here is a sweet, athletic Ethiopian boy in a Darien soccer uniform with a sweet, athletic Darien boy in an Ethiopian soccer uniform!
We're leaving for dinner in a half an hour and then head straight to the airport for the LONG ride home!
After the game we came back to the hotel and gathered our things. We used up the small amount of Birr we had left over on the jewelry being sold on the street to support a local college student. The Ethiopian government will no longer allow more than 200 Birr (~$12) per person to leave the country and since you can’t really exchange that small amount, might as well spend it on necklaces, right? Anyway, we all had one last meal together at Makush (the art gallery restaurant) and then we headed straight to the airport. The checking in process was relatively uneventful for most of us, however, the news never got better about the dentist equipment. The team ended up paying a $1,000 “tax” to retrieve the bags, but because Moody was afraid that it wouldn’t be able to pass back through US customs and because most of the team had already checked in and couldn’t take any of the bags, he ended up taking only two of the 14 crates back home. He is going to have a local Ethiopian go retrieve the rest of it. Hopefully it will all be there when he gets there and at least the baby formula will reach its final destination of the orphanages, and maybe even the dental equipment will reach one of the 74 dentists in the country. Only time will tell.
Well, as I type this, we are 25 minutes from landing at JFK. We had a life-changing trip for sure. We made many new friends that I know we will have forever and learned so much about ourselves in the process. Thanks so much for sharing and supporting this wonderful experience!!