Sunday, February 18, 2007

Thursday in Ethiopia - Part Two

AHOPE is the orphanage set up strictly for kids who are HIV positive. At this orphanage the kids are able to receive live-saving ARV’s, which is medication allowing a person with HIV to lead a happy, normal life. The sad irony is had these children not lost their parents, they would likely have lost their own lives. Now most of them will live well into adulthood. And just in the last year the governments have lifted restrictions allowing these kids to be adopted, so they now have the hopes of finding families again.

We went to an ice cream parlor close to AHOPE and ordered 55 cups of ice cream to be scooped. The staff there was very excited about this large order, yet even though they had personnel to spare; only one person did all the scooping. Thankfully we got there extra early and weren’t crunched for time.

With boxes of ice cream on our laps we headed down the street to AHOPE. After waiting a while for someone to open the gate, we drove in and piled out of the van, carrying our ice cream treats high and proud past excited little kiddos. Only a few moments later we realized we had made a terrible mistake, and had gone to the wrong AHOPE. This one was little AHOPE, for the babies and young kids, and it was the other AHOPE for bigger kids that was expecting us. Wanting to crawl in a hole and hide, we piled back into the van and tried not to notice the disappointed faces of the kids who saw us. We felt horrible, and vowed to ourselves that we would come back and do something for those kids.

I think Dawit felt a little responsible for the mix up, and boy was he on a mission to get us to our destination before the ice cream melted! Thankfully the two AHOPE’s are located just minutes from each other. When the van pulled into the small compound we were instantly mobbed by kids. We somehow figured out where to take the ice cream, and soon someone took control and locked the kids out of the room until we were ready to serve. Then one by one, smallest kids first, they lined in and sat down very patiently until the ice cream was handed out. The little kids even led grace. We were grateful that we had ordered extra ice cream, as a van pulled in bringing the kids who had seen us at little AHOPE. We were relieved that those kids would actually get their treat, too.

Once the ice cream social was over, the kids started playing all around the courtyard again. The compound is very small, but very pretty with mature trees and flowering shrubs around. For the most part all the kids are very happy and active, and if it weren’t for the sores on most of their faces, you would have no idea of their disease. Eftalem was very popular among the kids, and the poor guy was so tired but couldn’t sleep with all the stimulation. We finally tore ourselves away from the kids and drove back to our hotel.

Worker scooping our ice cream.
One of the many workers who fought over Isaiah.
Brian, Dawit, Dad and Kathy preparing to serve the ice cream.
Out of respect for the privacy of the children and families, I am not posting any pictures of the children of AHOPE.

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