Monday, May 4, 2015
“That’s a lot right, because I am also 4,” according to Merlijn. Our last four nights in Butajira. Today we had a going-away-party, Ethiopian style, thanks to our friends Akale, Behar, our neighbors Tina and Beletu, and our nanny Yetm and her sister Kalkidan. It started with a sheep grazing in our yard and it ended with everyone eating “tibs” (meat) and “injera”. Beletu asked me what it was like to live in Ethiopia for almost 2 years. A good question, although not easy to answer.
Living in Ethiopia for me was having a third child. Literally, but perhaps also metaphorically. It was challenging for me. Being sick a lot didn’t make it easier, but it was also a profound learning experience. It wasn’t easy finding people that we could truly trust and work well with, but it makes those special people truly special. I will miss them.
We will leave Ethiopia with 9 pieces of luggage. How is that possible, wondered Suzanne, as so many people hauled suitcases full of stuff over here. Well, we ate the food and did a lot of crafts with the kids, and now we’re giving away a lot and going back to basics again.
Living in Ethiopia as a family made the experience completely different from other VSO volunteers. Merlijn was 2,5 years and Elin was 9 months when they moved here. Now they are 4 and 2,5. Elin spent more of her life here than in The Netherlands. We are trying to prepare her that there is no injera in Europe, nor in Zimbabwe. She learned to walk and talk here. She doesn’t remember the tidiness of European streets filled with ‘ferengi’. Merlijn’s world is quite big for a typical 4-year old. He pretends to be Vincent from Germany who only speaks English, he wants to be a pilot and fly to Russia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe and France. Sara is now 1 year and 7 months. Her first word was “kaas” (cheese) and she now says “awo” (yes in Amharic). I hope that will be part of her future, a mixture of Ethiopian and Dutch heritage.
Two nights’ sleep remaining…
Our fourth baby was the Maternity Waiting Home project. It was inaugurated this morning. Also Ethiopian style, with the smell of coffee beans roasting on a fire, starting over an hour late, the camera crew arriving an hour after that, and wonderful Ethiopian thank you speeches, gifts and certificates. Now it is time to let it go and move on. It is up to the people here to start its promotion in the community, where 85% of women still deliver at home. We’ve seen that if Ethiopians are motivated, they can move mountains. The religious leaders, Major of Butajira and the Head of the Zonal Health Bureau all expressed their support today, so our fingers are crossed for success.
I’m happy to be going to Europe for a while but it’s starting to creep up on me that we are really almost leaving. I’m looking forward to coming back one day!
Amasegenallehu Butajira Hospital, VSO, and most of all our Habesha and Ferengi friends in Butajira and Attat!