If I was looking in the window of the room of handicapped boys at the Missionaries of Charity, I might see the following things:
-Fabrissio, Giuseppe, and Marco, three Italian men, tickling Binyam, a patient, and smothering him with a blanket
-Florence, a lovely French nurse, doing physical therapy on the boys who can’t get out of bed
-Wondwossen and Bugali, the two Ethiopian physical therapists, administering medicine, dressing wounds, giving physical therapy, joking with the boys, or brushing the boys’ teeth
-Gerald, my Irish friend (who owns an antique bookshop in Ireland!), helping one of the littlest boys walk down the hallway over and over – trying to strengthen his legs so he might one day walk unassisted
-Temesgen and Danny, two patients in wheelchairs, begging me to color with them or bring Harry Potter for them to watch (the first I do gladly, the second I refuse – I don’t want little boys wheeling after each other hitting each other with “wands”)
-Rahel, Amarich, and the other female Ethiopian employees preparing food, changing diapers, and making sure kids don’t hurt each other
-me laying in a bed cuddling Abrish, folding laundry, singing showtunes to the boys, feeding them, carrying boys to and from wheelchairs and beds, massaging paralyzed limbs, and doing a number of other daily tasks
Some highlights from the past few days:
-I’ve recently bonded with Eyobe, a boy of about 10 who can walk well. Florence and I agree that he is the kindest of the bunch. He’s always up for a hug, but doesn’t attack you like T’azo. Eyobe always wants to help me fold and carry blankets. The other day, as I was sitting beside Abrish and Tomas, I watched as Eyobe came up to Abrish (who is mostly paralyzed) and just stood there, stroking and comforting him and repeating the only words that Abrish says: “Na-na,” “mama,” and “naaaah!” I loved watching the boys have a conversation using the only words they could, but through exchanged smiles and touch, they gave each other the gift of joy. I smiled as I watched, realizing that only here could I see something that wonderful.
-Amarich got a huge kick out of spending an hour during the boys’ naptime braiding my hair into an Ethiopian hairstyle.
-I moved a few weeks ago into a guest house that is a 12-15 minute commute from the Missionaries of Charity. It’s located in north Addis, near Entoto Mountain, so the air here is cleaner, there are lots of trees out my window, and I feel more energized here. However, the Harrisons have been more than wonderful letting me stay with them for a while, and to them I’m so grateful.
-The discovery of Loti, a gourmet, fancy French restaurant. However, food here is so cheap that my meal the past 2 times I’ve eaten there has been…6 dollars. That’s for an entrée, drink, and dessert. Score.
-Singing Beethoven and Faure in Motley Singers with all sorts of people – U.S. Embassy employees, Ethiopian housewives, students, international teachers, French diplomats, and a monk! It truly is a motley crew. Last night at Motleys, I met Brother Iovane, an Italian monk who belongs to the order of the Brothers of St. John, the brother order of the Missionaries of Charity! I’m soon going to visit him at the monastery/house/wherever he lives and participate in a mass with him.
-Looking forward to a camping trip this weekend with some Addis street kids and other friends
Needless to say, after what felt like a long and dreary month of February, I am renewed as we approach mid-March. Pray for me as I finish out my final month here in Africa. Ciao!