Orphan Crisis in Ethiopia: How Can I Help?

It has been just over 3 weeks since our team from All God’s Children International (AGCI) and Rain City Church visited the government-run orphanages in Addis Ababa (see my previous post A Hard Day in Addis Ababa). I am now back in the safety and relative luxury of the bubble which I’ve carefully created for me and my family here in Seattle over the past couple of decades. However, what I experienced in Ethiopia then, and in the days that immediately followed, will stick with me forever.

When we returned back to our guest house after visiting the orphanages, I felt an overwhelming sense of helplessness and despair for those children. How could they ever have the opportunity to break out of a generations-old cycle of poverty, let alone survive, without the benefit of family and a support structure capable of preventing them from falling through the cracks?

The next day, we flew to Mekelle, the capital of Ethiopia’s Tigray region. The landscape was beautiful in an Arizona desert sort of way. The beauty of the surroundings, however, was obscured by the reality that the rocky soil was not exactly conducive to a healthy, sustainable existence. The evidence of that reality lay in the rundown buildings and tattered clothing which seemed to be the unwitting uniform of the people–especially outside of the city. This is the stuff I expected to see long before we arrived in Tigray.

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Street in Samre, Tigray, Ethiopia

What I did not expect, however, was to see the smiling, joy-filled faces of so many otherwise orphan children and their grateful guardians (often single parents fighting serious health battles of their own or other relatives). These children in Mekelle and Samre were not hopeless like the kids we met in the orphanages in Addis Ababa. Instead, they shared with us story after story about how the Educational Sponsorships they received through AGCI allowed them to go to school and help support their families.

Abbey Mekelle
Abbey and some of the sponsored kids in Mekelle.
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Hanging with the boys in Samre.

At this point, I could drone on about my feelings; eventually segueing into an appeal for you to consider helping these kids. Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, and videos can deliver 60 pictures per second, then I have a feeling that the following vids will be much more effective. Many of the people I met (including the tireless, dedicated local AGCI staff) and the things I experienced are captured by Tati in these videos when she took a similar trip about a year ago. I urge you to please take the time to watch this series (about 22 minutes total) as they do a much better job than I could ever do in this blog.

Sincere thanks ~ Paul

 

The Path to Hope – Series Intro from All God’s Children International on Vimeo.

The Path to Hope – Episode 1 from All God’s Children International on Vimeo.

The Path to Hope – Episode 2 from All God’s Children International on Vimeo.

The Path to Hope – Episode 3 from All God’s Children International on Vimeo.

The Path to Hope – Episode 4 from All God’s Children International on Vimeo.

 

** Featured Image by @angelyn_lauderback (Instagram) **

A Hard Day in Addis Ababa

We visited 2 government-run orphanages and a homeless “camp” here in Addis Ababa today.

Kibebe Tsehay Orphanage
The first facility was for newborn to 8-year old children. While apparently in far better condition than it was less than a year ago, the place was far from what that I’d consider conducive to raising thriving children. When we walked into the room where the infants stayed, I locked eyes with a 2-month old boy with big, beautiful eyes and a HUGE smile. About 30-seconds later, I looked at the dilapidated poster above his crib and realized that his name was the same one shared by my great-grandfather, my father, my son, and me: MATIAS. I was immediately reminded that I should feel nothing short of grateful for where I was born and raised. I left the room immediately to avoid breaking down right there and then.

We moved to another part of the facility and entered a room of 1- to 2-year olds. To our surprise, the children were already waiting for us–standing and facing the door expectantly. As soon as we walked in, one little boy rushed past all of us, latched onto Gabriel’s leg, and begged to be picked up. Gabriel hesitated, as doing so is rarely encouraged in these settings, but our local hosts gave him the green light. The boy’s eyes lit up like a Christmas Tree and he grinned from ear-to-ear. Within seconds, Marisa had two kids in her arms, and soon we were all surrounded by little humans craving affection. One little boy with a red, racing car hoodie leapt into my arms. As I picked him up, I noticed that his diaper was heavy and pants were damp. I didn’t even care. The boy did his best to communicate with me via pointing and gestures–I think he was trying to get me to give him a water bottle from atop one of the shelves. We eventually had to move on. I was the last one from our team to leave the room and will never forget seeing the disappointed little faces; and, even worse, hearing the children’s wailing screams as I backed out of the room.

Kechene Orphanage
We hopped back into our van and made our way down the road to the orphanage for 8- to 18 year-old girls. The living conditions were a little better than the first facility and a couple of the older girls seemed very well equipped to discuss and advocate for their needs as they faced aging out of the system and returning to the outside world to fend for themselves. Any sense of desperation was much more subtle than with the little children at the first orphanage. The mood changed quickly, however, when we started to leave. Suddenly, one of the girls latched herself to the van and did everything she could to prevent us from driving away. The girl was probably 14–the same age as my daughter–and we learned that she had recently named herself Julie in the effort to make herself more appealing to foreigners. She believed that foreigners would be more willing to help a girl with a Western name that only ate Western, not Ethiopian food. There was so much raw emotion–those 5 minutes felt like an eternity. As we began pulling away, I watched the older girls try to get Julie to put on a smile and wave politely to our team. In that moment, I said under my breath, “Julie, please keep fighting for yourself and don’t ever stop believing that your forever family is out there ready to fight for you, too.”

Lebu Homeless Camp
Our last visit was to a homeless camp filled with 100+ families living in 10’x10′ shelters made of corrugated sheet metal. On the outside, the conditions were pretty bleak. Dusty. No running water. Limited electricity. Raw sewage running down trenches in the middle of the dirt roads. However, we also saw some signs of hope. We meet a single mom with her children–both of whom are sponsored by our partners, AGCI. Because of the support received, the mother is able to keep the kids at home, send them to school, and also receive access to critical .medical assistance. She proudly welcomed us into her home and I was struck by how peaceful and even comfortable it was, all things considered.

📷 @angelyn_lauderback

We ended the day with a nice Ethiopian dinner show. The food, drink, and entertainment was as good as I’d hoped, but it was difficult to think of anything else but Matias, the red hoodie boy, and Julie.

Everyone thinks I hate traveling, BUT…

It’s only half true. I detest the amount of time we spend away from home, but I know it’s necessary. I abhor losing contact with friends and family (though tech makes it better), because it means if something happens, I’m not there for them. I’ve missed the births of my cousin and a dear friends baby. Heck, I’ve missed the first few weeks of school four years in a row, and every time I come back, I feel like the new kid. This time around we’ll be gone for 2 months, and over those months, I’ll slowly lose touch with friends.

But the traveling itself? It’s amazing! We see sights that people spend their entire lives trying to see! Stuff like the Coliseum in Rome, the Parthenon in Athens, and the Tower of London (take a guess as to where that is)! I hear and learn parts of languages that I might have never heard, like Indonesian or Icelandic. I experience things that help me grow and learn.

If you have been following us for a while, you all know that we try to serve others on these trips as well. These past few years we have been spending that time helping at a YWAM base in Bad Blankenburg, a little town in Germany filled with refugees. This has led to some memories that I will cherish forever, and will be eternally grateful.

I may have my grievances with parts of it, and while I’m not completely thankful of being told ‘Pack a bag, we’re going to _____!’, I’m glad that my parents take me with them.

Anyways, at this point I’m just rambling, so I’ll be going now.

Signing off,

Trey

Recap: Swiss Alps Pics

Helloooooo W🌎RLD!!

Here are some of my favorite pictures from last week’s visit to the Swiss Alps. For us, that included Geneva, Switzerland and Morzine, France. 🇨🇭🇫🇷 Hope you enjoy!📷

The view from our Airbnb apartment in Geneva
Big flower clock and a ferris wheel in Geneva🎡
140 meter high fountain on Lake Geneva
😍😱
Sunset on a river in Geneva
Geneva farmers market!
⬇️These are just a bunch of random flower pictures I took on a few hikes in Morzine.  I couldn’t choose which was my favorite so I just put all of then on here!🌸
🌼🌷🌸🌹
 ​

​Okay so this one isn’t a picture, but I just think it’s really cool!!🌄

That’s all I have for now, but I hope you enjoyed the pics😘

✌️ ⭕️⛎➕ (aka peace out)

~Kamaile

Back to Bad Blankenburg 

As many of you may know by now, I am the one in our family who likes traveling the least. I LOVE our home and have earned the nickname “homeboy” because of it. Thus, I wish to speak about my emotions of while we are in Bad Blankenburg

In Bad Blankenburg

Now that we are here, I am glad that we came so that we can see our friends and help others here in in the town. I am still somewhat upset since I am missing other friends and events back home, like a play in which one of my friends appears. Yet, it is still nice to be back and see what has and has not changed. I may not have wanted to be here, at first, but I am glad we are in Bad Blankenburg now.

Self Reflection

Even though traveling is not something I would choose for myself, I know that I will learn important lessons I might otherwise miss. I also get to spend time with my family, expand my horizons by learning more about the world, and help in a small way with problems that are bigger than I can imagine.

See ya!

p.s.

KEBABS ARE AWESOME!!!!

Another Adventure

Helloooooo W🌎RLD!!

since the last blog…

I’m finally posting something😅 Now that it’s summer and we have more free time because school’s out. So, you know what that means… TRAVEL! ✈️

We’re going to Europe again. I know right? Three years in a row. 😱  This time around we will be going to Switzerland, France, Germany, Belgium, and the UK. 🇨🇭🇫🇷🇩🇪🇧🇪🇬🇧

A couple days ago, we flew to London from Seattle, had a 5-hour layover, then took a short flight to Geneva. After two days here, we’ll take a train to Morzine, which is in the French part of the Swiss Alps. We vacation there with our friends for a little over a week then take the train through Munich to Bad Blankenburg!!🚈  If you don’t know what that is, it’s the little town in Germany that the #SeattleBundas visited last year to do volunteer work. I’m excited to go back so I can see some of the friends that I met last time!

BB friends:)

After BB (Bad Blankenburg), we are doing more volunteer work in Darby, England. It will be similar to BB but the people will speak english! Between Germany and England, we’ll be visiting our friends in Belgium. 

We are already in Geneva, but for some reason I still don’t feel like we’re actually here. It feels like a weird dream or something…💭 Must be the jetlag!

✌️ ⭕️⛎➕ (aka peace out)

~Kamaile

Flashback: Haleakala Sunrise & Bike Tour

Now that Facebook has just about killed off Throwback Thursday (aka #tbt) by encouraging us to repost memories any day of the week, we’ve decided to simply go with the flow. 

A year ago yesterday, the #SeattleBundas went to the top of the Haleakala volcano in Mau’i, Hawaii. As cool as that experience was in and of itself, it was the coming back down part that made this a memory of a lifetime. 

Check out this vid and let us know what you think!

Quick Update

Guess who’s back? Back again…

It’s been just a hair under 6 months since any of the #SeattleBundas have posted here. Life keeps happening and the “somedays” keep coming, but I find it very difficult to sit down and write with any sort of consistent passion. That said, I have resolved to get us all back on the horse again. In some crazy way, capturing our experiences–the good, the bad, the ugly–is one of the ways that I can show my gratitude for the life we’ve been living these past 2+ years.

As of the last post, we were touring the streets of Old Delhi and had NO CLUE what the next few weeks traveling around Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan would bring. I think I’ll sit down with my daughter soon so we can start piecing together all of our pics and vids. So much amazing footage!

Riding camels in the Tar Desert. Somewhere outside of Jaisalmer.

We also had a few surreal days in Dubai on the way back to States. The contrast between the UAE and India are downright startling. Sadly, there are no blogs or vlogs to show for that time either.

Poolside cabana at our posh hotel on The Palm in Dubai. It’s a hard knock life.

If you’re really interested you can scroll down way down in my instagram feed off of the home page and you’ll get a taste of what we experienced.

So what’s up next?

Yesterday, we just performed a soft-launch of the Someday Let’s Visit page on Facebook. I’ll call it what it is: an experiment. Starting with this blog, we’ll be posting content from somedayletsvisit.com, as well as our other social media accounts. We’re in the very early stages and pretty much making it up as go along. Therefore, I hope you’ll indulge me when I say that I consider it a huge win that we created a logo today. Baby steps!

S(omeday) L(et’s) V(isit) + the World = Simple Logo

More to come in the very near future–including pics/vids/blogs from our current vacation here in Florida and the Bahamas–so please be sure to FOLLOW here and LIKE on FB if you’re at all interested in keeping up-to-date. We’ll also be inviting others to share their “somedays” as well, so please reach out if you’re at all interested.

Thanks!

Eye-Opening Tour of Old Delhi

Hello everyone! If you didn’t know already, we are still in India, but no longer in New Delhi. However, I still want to tell you guys about a tour we took a couple weeks ago.

The tour company is unique, since the guides are adults who grew up as street kids! It’s called Street Connections, and is part of the Salaam Baalak Trust, which is an Indian non-profit and non-governmental organization dedicated to helping street children and working children.

Our guide, Khursheed, is currently one of the only two guides in the company. He is, as stated before, an adult who grew up on the streets. Around the age of 6 days old, his parents got divorced, and at age 6, his mother died, so he had to go live with his grandmother. Khursheed said that when he was young he was a pretty naughty boy who regularly got into trouble for stealing. When his grandmother eventually kicked him out, he went to live with his father and stepmom, who were abusive and cruel, until he ran away and lived on the streets. That’s when the Salamm Baalak Trust found him and brought him to one of their orphanages where he grew up the last 6 years of his childhood. When he had to leave the orphanage due to age restrictions, he joined their tour company and has been a guide for a year now.

We stopped for a few minutes in a dark alley for a quick chai break. While there, Khursheed told us about his dream to one day become a movie producer.

We met Khursheed at a place called Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India. On certain days of the year, it will have around 25000 people in it at once, all of them worshipping. Khursheed told us that it had cost the emperor Shah Jahan one million rupees, or the equivalent of $26,226,000 dollars today.  

After leaving Jama Masjid, we started walking around on side streets, where we occasionally saw little ‘street temples’ where people could go and pray. They were about the size of an average living room, so just large enough for a statue, a shrine, and a prayer carpet to fit in comfortably.

Walking down the narrow streets of Old Delhi.

When we were done walking around the streets, we went to a Jain temple. This temple was two stories tall, and on the second level there were around thirty little gold statues, and one large nude marble statue of a dude (Editor’s Note: The statue is of Lord Mahavir). In some smaller side rooms, there were a few small artifacts, but we didn’t know what they were since our guide had to stay at the entrance. Also, we couldn’t understand the descriptions because they were in Hindi.

We made another stop at the Spice Market (Khari Baoli), where Khursheed took us through the hustle and bustle of many shops and people up to the roof of the complex. On the way up, all of us were assaulted by a sensory overload of every type of spice in the market at once. At this point, we started sneezing and I noticed that every single person there (including locals) either had a mask on or was sneezing just as much as we were. That was especially difficult for Kamaile, due to the fact that she had a cold at the time and was already congested and coughing. When we got to the roof, I immediately noticed a dog that was tangled up in kite string. The string was wrapped around his torso and neck, so I helped free him. The we went back to viewing the Khari Baoli from above.

Finally, we went to the orphanage where Khursheed told us his story and a bit about the company. The company helps rescue basically slave children from companies, educates them, and teaches them life skills while giving them a home. After donating, he helped us find our way home on the super confusing subway system. We said our goodbyes on the train, and we walked home. 

See ya!!!

Seattle to New Delhi✈️

Helloooooo W🌏RLD!!

Finally! I’m back with a new blog post and your daily dose of Smiley Maile with tons of emojis.😜 

I know Mom and Trey have already talked about being IN India, but nobody’s talked about getting TO India!🇮🇳  This trip was a little different for us, because dad had arrived in India three weeks before us. So, no travel dad to guide us!😝 But, mom was great and did awesome putting up with Trey and me.😂

Well, enough with my blabbering. On with the travel already!✈️🇮🇳

For my cousin Gracie’s fourth birthday, she really really REALLY wanted to have a sleepover with cousins.💜 Since her birthday party was on the day of our flight, I slept over at her house the day before. (That was crazy!)

Mad face!!😡

We had a fun night with just us girl cousins, (and of course Aunty Katie and Anders!) and the next morning, people started to arrive for the party.

Birthday girl🎉💜
 

The party was fun, and when it ended Mom, Trey, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunty Tiffy, Jaxon, Layla, and I all got into Grandma’s car and we drove to the airport. When we got there, we all said our goodbyes and then Mom, Trey and I headed inside the aiprort.

Where’d mom and grandpa go?🤔

Security lines weren’t too bad, since it was a Saturday afternoon, so we got through that pretty quickly. After that we got to our gate in really good time. Mom and I both have gotten into adult coloring books and we like doing them when we travel, but mom forgot hers at home! So we went into a Hudson News shop and she got a cute little book with Bible verses and little doodles on the sides.🌺

    One of the finished pages✏️

    Here’s a pic of us at the gate.😋

    A bit later, we finally got in the plane! I got the window seat, (yay!) Mom was in the middle, and Trey had the aisle seat.💺 We hadn’t even taken off yet, but I wanted to see what movies they had on the little tv things they have on the back of seats.📺 I was scrolling through and found that they had “Finding Dory”! I was soooooo happy because when the movie came out, we weren’t able to see it because we were in Germany.🐟

    Finally, at about six thirty, we took off. Lately, I’ve been really into taking time-lapse videos on my phone, so here is that.​

    ​The whole flight to Dubai was fourteen and a half hours!!😱 It was the longest plane ride I’ve ever taken by far. It was so weird, because of the route we’d taken, we saw the sun set two times and we even saw the moon rise!🌅

     We landed in Dubai and the layover there was a couple hours, and we ate and just chilled for a while because we were sooo tired. Then, the flight to Delhi from Dubai was about four hours.✈️ On that flight I finished up the BFG movie, (I had started it on the Seattle-Dubai flight) and then slept the rest of the time.💤

    Over all, we spent about exactly twenty four hours traveling and we were POOPED.💩😴 I’m pretty sure Mom covered the rest of the events that happened that night, and you can read that in her blog, “The first 24 hours in India, a deliriously tired brain dump.” I’m still not over jet lag on our fifth day, but I’m grateful to be here.😊

     

    ✌️ ⭕️⛎➕ (aka peace out),

    ~Kamaile

    Go and experience. Stay and connect.