Friday, May 4, 2012

Trip 2 - The Aftermath (part 2 from DP)

Here is the third e-mail I sent while in Ethiopia . . .

A view from our window . . . a very middle class type area. 
It's been a few days since I last wrote to you and I have all kinds of excuses why.  Other than a full schedule, we've also been without power for most of the visit. The rainy season is beginning here and the infrastructure just doesn't hold up well.  Most days have begun slightly overcast followed by thunderstorms that dry up in the evening and then return over night. Anytime it is dry it seems most folks spend their time cleaning up from the rains.  With only the main roads paved and dirt, debris, rubble, poor drainage etc. everywhere else, it is a very muddy place to be. It's funny though, because it's easy to paint a miserable existence among all the challenges here but it is very much just a way of life.  The people here are wonderful - warm, helpful, courteous and respectful.  They are quite resilient in their daily challenges for things like water, power, and cleanliness. Even more so, I often feel that we are looked at as a little soft in our "needs" for daily comfort.  I feel like Jillian and I can adapt pretty well to most situations - but I guess I see that as the difference in
our cultures. While quite clearly they have adapted as a culture over time, our culture is always looking for something bigger and better - a solution.

There is something peaceful and refreshing about their approach. They are quite content.  I certainly appreciate all the comfort, structure and opportunity that America offers, but put in perspective - the Ethiopian people are not as needy as some may believe.

The days have begun to run together as we try to help Obsa wrap his little head around what's going on. In the last few months he's had to move from caregiver to caregiver too many times and he is showing the signs that it's just all too much for him. We continue to have momentary glimpses of his potential personality. In the meantime, he's doing his very best to let us know he's not a happy fella. I'd love to tell you all about what a wonderful bonding experience we've had - and perhaps someday, we'll be able to look back and say we did - but right now we are battling to let this little boy know he is loved, safe, and secure. Our family is his last stop! 

Because of his transitions we've learned that when he's upset he cries - a lot. The good news is that Obsa has been in a very caring environment and has received plenty of love and attention. The challenge is that he has gotten everything he wants - on his terms.  It is a very difficult balance to make sure he knows we are the ones who will love and care for him  but that you don't get to whine and get everything you want. The other night we had dinner at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant and Obsa thought it was fun to throw his food on the floor when he was finished eating.  Now at home we are fans of putting the proverbial smack down, so we simply took his plate away.  Right away we were chastised for taking food from a baby. When we explained the situation we were told to give him his plate back. In respect of our hosts we did just that.  A little example, but indicative of the cultural sensitivity we are trying to balance while we are still guests in Ethiopia.

Lastly, the aftermath we feared from the birthday party arrived. Jillian started antibiotics this evening due to a fever, achy joints and all kinds of other stuff I'm just sure you don't want to hear about.  I'm not as bad,but my body is telling me it's time to return as well.  Obsa still thinks I'm rather scary and needs Jillian to be his safety net.  So it was a very tough day but then we got one of those glimpses that helps us to see that this will all work out okay.  We had a really nice evening with him where he just played for a little while - all I could do was just look up and say thank you.  

By now you've figured out that the power came back on so I was able to get a little work done this evening. Sorry I'm so long winded, but I promise you that this was the abridged version of the last few days. What an experience - loved coming here, but can't wait to get home! 

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