Ethiopia, Welcome to the Family
I had ideas and expectations of what I would encounter when we met. You see this was not my first trip to Africa; be slow to judge me, Ethiopia. I am not the white American girl who thinks that all of Africa is one country. No, I knew you would be different, but I wasn't quite sure how. My husband and I have both been to several third world countries, so we were preparing ourselves for the extreme conditions we would see.
Ethiopia, like many of the other places I have traveled, your living conditions for so many people broke my heart. To see young boys (some probably not 5 years old) living on the streets and working as shoe shiners and doing other little jobs to make it day to day is something I hope never becomes normal or acceptable in my eyes. Unclean water for people to drink is clearly a huge world problem and is no different for you. We visited a church that is home to many HIV positive, mentally disabled, and physically disabled. These people are the outcast and live there in hope for healings. I walked through an orphanage that is supposed to be one of the best in the country and had tears rolling down my face the entire time we were there because it wasn't good enough; it was one of the worst days of my trip. It was overcrowded, and I was overwhelmed the moment I stepped foot in the compound. We saw a severely disabled man completely naked begging on your streets. I listened to people talk about your education system and your government's corruption. Although this all broke my heart, none of this surprised me about you.
Ethiopia, as much as you made my heart hurt and break for your people, I also saw so much life and good in this place so full of culture and history! Many people don't realize the true diversity that exist within you. With over 80 tribes, you have diversity in language, dance, music, religion, customs, architecture, physical appearances and more. Your landscape varies with mountains to lowlands. You are a country with so much natural beauty. Delicious food and amazing coffee were not hard to find. Your people are strong, proud, and hard-working. These are just a few of your amazing qualities that made our time with you so enjoyable. Your beauty and traditions definitely opened our eyes and surprised us in many wonderful ways.
But you see Ethiopia, there is one quality about you that stands out above all the others. There is one attribute that makes you different from any other place I have ever been in the world. You are not just a place to our family. No, you have become a part of us. You are currently home to our son, and because you are a part of him, you are now a part of us. Because you see Ethiopia, we know that although our son is becoming an American citizen and leaving you for a new home on the other side of the world, we would be doing a disservice to him by leaving you completely behind. We are welcoming you into our family. We know we do things a lot different, but our hope is that we will keep you close. We will probably mispronounce some things, and I will probably fail at making some of your most simple meals, but we promise to keep you in conversations, to speak highly of you, to celebrate some of your holidays, to allow our son to visit you when he is ready, and to continue to find ways to love you and your people. Because you see Ethiopia, although our son may appear to be the one who is Ethiopian, you now live in us all.
Your newest family members