We awoke early, and we headed to the airport after saying goodbye to Tsehaye. Leaving Mekele, I felt genuine sadness that I can't quite explain, but I also was excited because I knew that I was headed back to where my daughter was.
The officials at the airport upgraded us to first class to compensate us for the bad circumstance cutting our trip short. The officials and Tsehaye felt really bad about the entire situation, but honestly, Dustin and I felt grateful for being able to see and learn what we did despite the brevity of our trip.
Once we arrived in Addis and dropped our stuff off at the guest house, we decided to walk around the city.
Everywhere we went people asked us for money. Women carrying their young children on their backs making sad faces pointing to their children asking for donations. Children asking for food and water. It was heart wrenching and even nauseating. These poor children don't even have food and access to clean water, let alone education and medical coverage. In America, when I thought of poverty it was never this extreme. At least in America there are programs (food stamps, WIC, welfare, shelters, medicaid, church pantries, and so on). In America, people can access drinkable water at public parks and other public facilities, but not here. Here, the poverty is so devestating, the desperation so rampant that solutions seem an impossibility.
Dustin and I tried to hand out some candy and toys, but the children literally swarmed us and fought each other for it!
We met one gentlemen who engaged us in conversation and showed us around a beautiful Orthodox Church in the city. It was tragically ironic to me that such an elaborate church would be surrounded by such poverty.
The gentleman that showed us around spoke very good English, and he explained that he was from Eritrea (just north of Ethiopia). He explained that his country was currently in a state of war, and that he had fled to Ethiopia with his wife and child to escape the violence. He had his masters degree in Chemistry and spoke 3 languages fluently, but couldn't find work in Ethiopia. He explained that he would not ask for money from us, but would be extremely grateful if we could buy a can of formula for his baby. How could anyone say "no?" This is not a man who is uneducated; this is not a man unwilling to work. This is a man who through no fault of his own is on the streets with his family begging for food for his child.
While walking around the city of Addis, if you took a picture of someone they expected you to give them money. If you carried any food with you they would ask you for it.
Addis was much different than Mekele. Although both cities had poverty, Mekele seemed so much more rural. Addis was littered with trash and people laying on the streets.
We ate at a local restaurant, and talked with some of the other IAG families waiting to meet their children. We all watched the clock hoping we would fall asleep so that time would pass more quickly because TOMORROW WE MEET OUR DAUGHTER MARYA!