POST BY ANNE STANTON
Monday January 10, 2011
I’m skipping dinner to write this, only because there is so MUCH to write, and I don’t want to wait another day. I remember when Bob Downes would write these incredibly long emails when he was taking his trip around the world, and now I know how he feels. So first off, I had this realization today that I spend so many days of my life writing about the trips and goals (like Ethiopia) and staying home and, yup, feeling jealous and yearning, as in when will it will be my turn? And it IS my turn, and I just feel so grateful and happy to be here. WHAT an experience. I met this woman who volunteers/works for this wonderful group called *TEFSA (builds preschools) in Ethiopia, the wife of a very wealthy pediatric surgeon in Grand Rapids and she talked about “priorities” that you make in life. And, although she probably doesn’t have to make a lot of difficult choices (I’m guessing), she is right. Life is a set of priorities, and I never again want to make travel so low on my list again. It’s just too amazing, too profound not to see the world.
Okay, corrections to my earlier posts. Matt Desmond really didn’t bite his finger. He was just joking that a baboon had bit his finger (they came across baboons in the Entoto Mountain), and I caught the tail end of the joking comment. He just hurt in the normal traditional way of, I don’t know, brushing it against something. Secondly, the folks don’t eat the very same meal of enjarta in Ethiopian every day. In fact, there’s great pasta, veggies, etc. I think I’m gaining weight because I’m eating like a marathon runner, when, um, I’m not. Which is why I’m skipping dinner to write this.
So yesterday, while the runners ran 33K from Addis Ababa to Debra Zeit I went and visited a school with the singers, Seth Bernard and May Erlewine (perhaps the two most perfectly matched couple, singer wise and *marriage wise I’ve ever met). But getting the run started was kind of hilarious.
Click the image above to download a PDF document that you can view and print.
The runners set off and the “media” van was to follow and meet up with them. But we were delayed, in part, because we had to fire the driver at the hotel. The driver, not only with a bad attitude, but maybe even worse, with a really bad sense of direction. Even I noticed that (didn’t we already pass this place, like 15 minutes ago??). So we are driving, driving, and *Tedesse Meskela, one of Chris Treter’s key coffee guys who is a VERY busy guy, but really wants to see the race off, is calling Timothy Young every 2 minutes, I kid you not, to ask where we are. And finally, Timothy, exasperated, says, “Tedesse, we are about 1 kilometer from the point where you originally called!” We FINALLY make it, and I jump into the run, because that’s where the story is, right? And I CAN’T breathe. The altitude is about 8,000 feet. We are running along a major city road, people looking at us with great curiosity. Some of the women, wrapped up in their dresses and scarves, give us this real stony look, and then you flash them a smile and they give you back this warm, tentative smile. Hard as heck to run. No sidewalk, but this bumpy dirt trail and lots of pedestrians to weave around. Plus diesel exhaust and honks (the drivers have this unique honking language.) Timothy sees me sucking air and advises me to stop before I want to puke, because if I get to that point, I’ll be sick the whole day. So I take his advice and jump in the van that’s crawling behind us after running, maybe a mile and a half.
Then we go to a preschool that this nonprofit called *TEFSA founded. We get there maybe 5 hours later than we ‘re supposed to. Finding the place was quite hilarious. Stephanie, who I mentioned before, remembers that it was a right turn on a street. But the street is like a small driveway. God knows how she spotted it. So we get finally to the school, called New Hope Academy, and we find 75 little ones (and their older brothers and sisters show up too). The idea, as Stephanie tried to explain to the kids, is that Seth and May will sing and the kids would color and then paint an abstract, flowing type drawing to reflect how they feel about the music. As you can imagine, the preschoolers didn’t exactly get that and drew what preschoolers love to draw. Flowers, ducks, and a particularly nice drawing of a school with a cross on it. Guess how many drew monsters or super heroes. Zero. Just thought I’d say that.
1.The Tesfa Foundation is one of our school partners in Ethiopia. On The Ground is sponsoring several ongoing programs through Tesfa including Team Tesfa’s Gorumsa Project, The Mercato School Lunch Program, and the Wolega School.
2. Just so the families back home don’t panic Seth Bernard & May Erlewine are indeed engaged, but not as yet married. Whew!
3. Tedesse Meskela is the director of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU). They are another school partner for our schools in the Yirgacheffe region. Tedesse is an internationally known figure in the fair trade coffee world. He was featured in the documentary Black Gold.
To return to our website click this link. www.runacrossethiopia.org