How do I even begin to put into words the pain, sorrow, love, heartache and healing I experienced in Ethiopia???
Even the most eloquent of words won’t do justice to the most perfect experience.
I know, I know. I have taken a break from REAL blogging for a minute and then all of a sudden here I am jumping back on and expecting you to be right here up to speed with me. I wish you had been with me, because there is no way I can accurately portray what I felt on my journey in Ethiopia. And oh what a journey it was. Starting with a flight to Las Vegas, then Chicago, and finally an 18 hour flight (but who is counting) to Adis Abbaba, Ethiopia.
Yes this was my first international trip of 2020, but I feel like with all my travels I’m pretty much a pro at this. Two checked bags of donations from Dolls of hope and one carry on bag weighing less than 20 pounds. Yes you’re right, that is the only rule I plan on following on this trip, and you are welcome.
I should have started this while I was in Africa but we all know how the jetlag and days blur together so here goes. I went to Ethiopia with an organization called Korah Kids. The city of Korah is basically a community built around a trash dump. Yes you read that correctly. There is a local hospital that treats leprosy and other disabilities that are not seen other places and so here is where people go because it is the only place they can go. For lack of education, children are disowned, shunned from their families and left to survive on the streets. There are an abundance of leppers, cripples, and families trying to survive with the little healthcare that is offered to them in Korah.
We were able to visit the trash dump that is a home to over 100,000 people. Over 10,000 people live, sleep, and feed their families from here.
Read that number again…….and again. When was the last time you dug through the trash to feed yourself or someone you love???
The locals know what dumpsters come from what locations. The airport, the hilton, the hospital, etc. The pecking order is in full force and it doesn’t take long for fights to break out as the strongest men get first picks digging through the trash to find the most valuable items. Once the best items (moldy food, in fact anything that could possibly have been food at one point) are taken, then the weaker boys go in for the leftovers. After that, the women and children, and then the animals. After food, there is plastic collected to sell along with anything that can be taken to market and sold or traded.
At first even getting to the trash dump was met with shouting and anger as people saw their own survival being threatened. No, I am not here to take from you, I am not here to exploit you. I am here to learn about you, learn what I can do for you and love you.
Nice story Melissa, go to the trash dump, take a photo, and then what???
Exactly. What can we do to make a difference so when we leave we have empowered people with a hand up and not just a hand out? You tell me. What is the point of going somewhere and seeing such sorrow and then coming home and feeling like it’s ok to live the life I live.
If I come back and keep quiet because the images might be too unbearable for some people to stomach, is that really making a difference. If I keep what I have felt inside me, how can I feel like I have even made a difference. If I keep the smells and sounds to myself how can I invite you to do something good for somebody, whatever that looks like for you.
You don’t have to travel to a trash dump community to make a difference. But you can share a need when you see one and take action yourself or give others the opportunity to do so.
As I am writing this tears are streaming down my face. Not for myself but for all I saw in Ethiopia and witnessed as a sorrow. Yet, all I was received with was pure joy, smiling faces, hugs, love and laughter from everybody….yes even those that thought they were eating a vegetable from the dump and it turned out to be a dead rat.
How is it that those that have so little are so happy?? How is it that I come back to America where there is an absolute abundance of everything! There is an abundance of food, resources, homes that could fit entire cities inside of them and yet there is an abundance of sadness, An abundance of deep sorrow, an abundance of excessive drug use, people self medicating with alcohol, people suffering from anxiety and depression. So what is the point here? And do I even have one or am I just enjoying rambling over here to myself.
I actually don’t have a point. The trash dump was a mere glimpse of the trip I experienced in Ethiopia. The emotions I felt there were real and the emotions that I feel here are real. Whatever you are going through is your truth. Feel it. Embrace it. Let it overwhelm your whole soul even if you feel like there is no point of return. Just because you don’t live in Africa doesn’t mean you don’t have your own pain. I know you do. I see it and I feel it and I pray for you every day to have it taken away. The reality is, life is hard wherever we are in the world so let us do something nice for someone else tomorrow. And most importantly let us do something nice for ourselves right now, and every day for the rest of our lives. We deserve some self love, some self compassion, and some real and raw kindness for our own journey. Thank you for following me on mine, and feel free to invite me on yours at any time. I am here for me, and I am here for you!