My first day in Ethiopia #ONEMoms

MaryHope 16 My first day in Ethiopia #ONEMoms

photo by: Karen Walrond

It’s almost midnight here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  My body wants me to go to bed but my heart feels compelled to share a few thoughts about my first day here. 

Eager to step off the plane after a long and restless 14 hour flight, any feelings of denial this trip was actually going to happen seemed to fade away as I looked out the windows of the airport.  Finally, we were here. 

 MaryHope3 My first day in Ethiopia #ONEMoms

Invited by the Mary Joy Development Association, our team was welcomed to this non-profit organization center for a time cultural community building as well as a presentation on what this organization does.  As I listened to Mary Joy’s directors share the stories of the people they serve, my heart sank.

Imagine you are a young child, perhaps with siblings, and your parents die of HIV/Aids.  Already destitute, you are now orphaned to live on the streets within a shanty town.  What do you do?  Where do you go? You become a child-mother to your siblings or pregnant for reasons that are unspeakable.

MaryHope12 My first day in Ethiopia #ONEMoms

Through community organizers and outreach, Mary Joy DA tries to reach these children as well as seniors and provide them with assistance for health care, education, nutrition, and a form of adoption within the Ethiopian community.

As I looked around to all these beautiful faces, it was so clear how far beyond their ages most of these kids were.  What they’ve had to endure is beyond what I am able to comprehend.  Beyond the obvious language barrier our, time at Mary Joy DA was spent bonding over dancing to native beats with the women and children Mary Joy DA serves.  Our time with them was precious, unforgettable, and bittersweet.

MaryHope9 My first day in Ethiopia #ONEMoms
I stared out the window of our van the entire time back to the hotel taking in the realities our time at the Mary Joy DA.  And for every child we interacted at the center, I saw at least a hundred more homeless wondering the streets during the ride back.

Back at the hotel had a quick moment to Skype my family back home.  So happy to see them, I showed pictures and video clips from my iPhone to my husband and kids.  I was caught off guard by the momentary break-down I had during our conversation because it hit me so hard that many of the kids I saw earlier in the day were the same ages as my kids.  For the orphaned children, they used to be someone’s kids.  As a mom, my heart was still clearly breaking for the children I had danced and played with just hours earlier.  I’m still processing.

If you haven’t already, I would like to invite you to add your voice to the ONE Moms campaign.  By signing up with ONE, your voice advocates on behalf of children impacted by the HIV/Aids crisis through government leadership.  ONE is not asking for donations, just your voice. 

To learn more about Mary Joy Development Association and how you can support them, please visit their website.

To follow the #ONEMoms journey this week, our updates will appear on the ONEMoms web page.  Most everyone will be using the hashtag #ONEMoms on Twitter, #ONEMOMS on Instagram, ONE MOMS Facebook, and other social media channels.  We also invite you to amplify the message of ONE by using the hashtag #ONEMoms on your social media channels.  Collectively, we can use our voices to make sure the government continues to provide aid and assistance to countries dealing with extreme global poverty.

Disclosure: #ONEMoms is a ONE campaign encouraging moms everywhere to collectively make our voices heard to make a global impact.  I was invited on this trip to Ethiopia courtesy of ONE to share with you the stories of the Ethiopian people.

Top photo by Karen Walrond

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  1. says

    My heart is racing as I read of your first few hours in Ethiopia. More than two months after my trip there, and I am still processing the stark differences in our worlds and the sweet faces I met there. I’m looking forward to more of your posts. Get some rest if you can!!

  2. Margrietha says

    I think it was almost 50 years ago, my first visit to Africa and to found out that people in Africa are people like you and me!!

  3. cindy says

    Thank you for sharing even though you’re exhausted! It feels like we’re there partnering with you! Love surpasses all language barriers, doesn’t it? :)

  4. MJ says

    Thanks for the update- we are praying for you- what an amazing opportunity! Soak it in and we look forward to hearing more.

  5. says

    Hi Alice,
    You are lucky i think…because you spend some amazing moments with these adorable looking little kids! I always love to read journey story..and this one is very inspiring to me…It’s great to know that you fight and raise your voice against HIV AIDS! Best of luck..

  6. says

    So beautifully told, Alice. I’m glad you pushed your body long enough to get this down. I understand – all these emotions seem to be coming at me so fast, it’s like if I don’t get them out one by one, I’ll be crushed by the weight of it all.

    I really love your point about how far beyond their ages the kids were. Fearless. Able to look you in the eye, grab you to dance, or kiss your cheek. Remarkable.

  7. says

    I am convinced that the most beautiful people in the world live in Ethiopia. I am fortunate to have family and friends that have adopted babies from that lovely country and applaud your work and the work of the ONE campaign, specifically for moms. Thank you for sharing this and looking fwd to more posts on this great trip!

  8. says

    My son is from Ethiopia and we spent an amazing 2 weeks traveling through the south to the Omo Valley, and then another 2 weeks in Addis. Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous!!!!! I can’t wait to read more about your trip…

  9. says

    what an amazing life experience. It’s funny how you go into things [volunteerism, humanitarian missions, etc] thinking how much heart you have to give, only to discover you get back so much more than you could ever hope to give.

  10. says

    What an inspiring post. You managed to capture the beauty in these Ethiopian women. Moments like these you wouldn’t want to trade with anything else, right? Really touching and life-changing.

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