Monday, April 30, 2012

Holiday in Ethiopia--April 2012

I've been blessed with the opportunity to spend four days of my quarterly Rest and Relaxation in Ethiopia. The bulk of it was spent in Bahir Dar, a Northwestern City becoming famous for Lake Tana and the mouth of the Blue Nile. Although it is dry season still, the area has great potential beauty ready to burst forth with the first few rains, expected anytime. I stayed with a Canadian family that has made Ethiopia their home for about two decades. Like much of Ethiopia, Bahir Dar has a war torn history. I actually procured a horn that is made of mortar from the war. In the mouth of an Ethiopian is makes a beautiful sound, it's not so beautiful when blown by me. I love that some of beauty and functionality (they use it as they go through the streets to gain people's attention before making city announcements) is coming from something that brought death and destruction many years ago. In the market place I smelled the strong odor of urine on a couple of women. Most likely those women have urinary fistulas. This is tragic condition caused by early marriage (11-13 years of age for girls) where their bodies are two immature to be able to deliver a baby without extended labor and great difficulty. The multiple days of labor can result in damage to the pelvic area. For many of these women a surgery, or a series of surgeries, can repair the "hole" between their bladder and vagina that allows urine to leak, uncontrolled, malodorously, constantly. Many become outcasts in society and even a "shame" for their families and remain hidden away, abandoned by their husbands. Ethiopia is a fascinating country. To name a few things: It's emperor for many decades was/is believed by some to be the messiah. Haile Selassie. The Rastafarian movement is a big part of that belief. The air smells of Eucalyptus in areas where the trees grow tall and proud. This was the scent that greeted me when I walked out of the Addis Abeba airport upon arrival. I believe it is the only country in Africa which has not been colonized, though it was occupied by Italians for a few years in the late 1930s. They have their own calendar and a different time system. They are credited with the first coffee--which they began refining and drinking when they noticed their animals were very energetic after eating the raw, red beans. Some believe the Ark of the Covenant from the Jewish faith is hidden within the country. The building where it is believed to be held has fierce security.
The country and people of Ethiopia came upon the horizon in my life back in the 1980s during a tragic famine that claimed countless lives.  We didn't have a TV in our home, but the media coverage was so widespread that I managed to see images in the newpapers, magazines and occasionally on TV in others' homes.  Since that time I've often thought of the beauty and needs among the Ethiopians. It was a dream come true to see a bit of their life and culture. I know there are very poor and undeveloped areas in the country, but the part I saw was much more prosperous and developed than South Sudan.  Communism had a lot to do with that.  Good can come out of most anything. 


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