After visiting the orphanage in Woliso we went to lunch and then back to Addis. We visited a drop in center - Promising- which helps vulnerable children with tutoring, school supplies, uniforms... while we were there we met a young lady (16 years old or so). Her story is heartbreaking-
Her parents are in their 60's and they tried to force her to marry an older man, so she ran away. She lives with her brother and takes care of his two young children. Her brother is unemployed and they are extremely poor. She takes care of his children after school and in the morning. She is top in her class but has no money for school books, clothes, school supplies. She cannot work because she must take care of her brother's children in order to "pay" for her share of the rent. I wonder how many other Ethiopian girls are in this situation?
The last stop of the day was a soccer ministry for street kids. The sun was setting when we arrived. We talked to the kids and watched them play a little bit. Heather called me over saying one of the boys said, "I know your faces." as he pointed to Heather and me. Really, what are the chances that he would know us? There are approximately 3 million people in Addis, how could we "run into" someone in Addis? Heather asked the boy if he knew Robel (our guide when we adopted with AWAA last year). The boy said yes. This teenager is named Samuel. He is one of Robel's street kids. When we were in Ethiopia last year we went to the post office area to buy souvenirs and we met some of Robel's kids. Robel set the kids up with tissues and gum to sell so they would not beg on the street. Of course, we bought gum and tissues from the boys. Matthew even bought them Cokes while we were there.
Samuel remembered us. I could not believe it! As I started to think back on that day I remembered him. I gave him a hug asked him about school. By this time it was dark and we needed to get back to the guest house.
During dinner Karen suggested we try to get together with the street kids on Sunday to buy them shoes. She had noticed many of their shoes had holes in them. Samuel's shoes were two sizes too big!
Sunday morning we had breakfast with Robel. He said he'd get the word out to the kids to meet us at the post office that afternoon.
Sunday we went to church. Jeremy on our team was the guest preacher at a church in Addis. It was an amazing time of worship. After church we went to lunch (Metro Pizza) and then to meet the street kids.
We couldn't buy shoes because the shops were closed but we did take them to lunch. Actually, Jeremy paid for lunch which was so sweet of him! The kids enjoyed sodas and tibs. We also brought the kids each a pair of new socks, pencils and toothbrushes. They were all very grateful.
One boy kept asking where David was. He said David was going to buy him an exercise book. He kept insisting he needed an exercise book. I thought, why did he need an exercise book? Finally, I asked, What's an exercise book. It's not a work out book but a composition book. School children do their homework and take tests in an exercise book. This boy had filled up his exercise book and needed another one to take his chemistry exam. The book cost about 84 cents but he didn't have the funds to purchase one. Without the book he would get a 0 for the exam.
After lunch we went in search of an exercise book. Imagine three white woman walking through the streets of Addis surrounded by 15 or so street kids. I am sure we were a spectacle because all the shopkeepers walked out of their shops to watch us walk by.
We went to 4 shops before we could find one that had exercise books in stock. We bought exercise books and pens for all the kids. At one point two police officers were concerned for our (American women's) safety. We explained that what we were doing and it was okay that the children were so close to us. The officers said okay but I noticed they didn't walk away.
We said our goodbyes and Samuel gave me a silver cross. He asked me if I would be back and I said I would be back next year. I asked what I could send him. He said he needed clothes. I took a good look at his clothing. He had a hoodie jacket with the hood riped off, a worn t-shirt, pants with holes in them and shoes that were too big. I promised to send him some clothes.
When I got back to the guest house I was so upset with myself. I should have traced his foot so I could buy the correct size shoes....