Set in an isolated landscape, the visit to Yaya Gulalae Area Development Programme (ADP) plays home silent break from urban life. At 2500 meters above sea level, the village has no phone, no wifi, no emails, no work to distract me. I played catching with the village children, met my sponsored daughter Meron and sponsored grandson Habtamu. I was speechless when I saw them. They are real! Language barrier didn’t dampen our excitement. Seeing joy on their faces – priceless.
One of the 2 flies which keep following Habtamu’s face flew to my cheek | Habtamu’s innocent smile and happiness when he received the soccer ball sponsored by my boss Marc Pelet | Wish both will grow up to become useful people, contribute to the society. I’m glad that my contribution has made a difference in their lives as well as for their families, their community whose average life expectancy is 45 years old but now improved due to better access to clean water and health care.
Mansho is not a sponsored child to anyone. We met him at World Vision staff living quarters. He’s an amazing potential marathoner, following the 4-wheel-drive we were in, ran a 2km and arrived shortly after us. I gave him a box of colour pencils Marine Flesselle and Mathieu Lacour sponsored. Mansho wore a torn and tattered pants, secured with a straw string. Poor boy! Some of our trippers asked World Vision ADP staff, wanted to sponsor him. These children touched our hearts with their actions.
Through these days of visits at World Vision Yaya Gulalae Area Development Programme (ADP),
We visited water works construction project. water points and irrigation system constructed by World Vision ADP.
HIV AIDS health project, health post, households and farms, see how crops are grown, school and distribute gifts brought from Singapore and additional purchase of stationery and mathematics instrumental set, exercise books. I saw boys and girls smile as they tried on shoes Gunjan Dokania contributed.
Stepping on the Africa Safari that we see in NatGeo documentary, marvel at the beautiful sunset and children following me as I gave them sweets. What I exchanged with them are beautiful smiles that is in my mental picture archive and those display here.
The appeal of some of the Africa’s isolated and stunning environments, their breathtaking beauty draws me hungry for a rare glimpse of panoramas that an off-the-beaten track holiday promises.
What was it that inspired me to embark on the journey to rural Ethiopia?
2005 – I was with my family and a guide trekking in Cat Cat Village of Sapa, Vietnam. I chanced upon 2 boys with school bags on their backs. The bags were donated by UNICEF. Girls donned traditional tribes costume, selling souvenirs to trekkers. They don’t go to school.
2009 – My colleague Joleen, asked me to chipped in to purchase gifts (rice, blankets) for a poor Cambodian community. This is how I get to know World Vision.
May 2011 – For no apparent reason, I browsed World Vision website and chose Meron Lema as my sponsored child.
Sep 2013 – I told my family I want to go to Ethiopia. My sons wanted to follow. I said “No. Let me go alone.”
Oct 2013 – My 2nd son Dominique became the sponsored parent of 5-year-old Ethiopian boy, Habtamu.
Dec 2013 – I was in Yaya Gulalae.
This is my mini project. My fellow trippers who are Christians said this is “calling”. I’m Buddhist and not really sure what they mean but I know I’m searching for meaning in life. Participating in this trip to Yaya Gulalae ADP and the country called Ethiopia, I learnt that real growth is not about moving from not knowing to knowing, but stepping from the known to unknown. That is where learning truly begins. I didn’t see giraffes in the village but the unique souvenir giraffes definitely recalls adventures and fond memories.
Most of us have things we can easily give away to people who need them, in our own communities or around the world. How things that were part of daily lives could make a big difference in the lives of others.
I want to thank well wishes that I have a safe trip and to those whose gifts, money have made my contribution possible. Without the givers, I couldn’t have made much of my own gifts. I can only hope that their giving has made them happy as they deserve to be for all the good they have done.