That newfound love came in handy as we packed up and headed to the Hope Ethiopia site.
We drove approximately 2 hours on the main road and then turned off on a dirt one. Typically, this dirt road meant we were almost at our destination. However, on this day, we traveled that dirt road for another hour and ten minutes.
The drive was absolutely beautiful and our team had the best time. It felt as if we were in a parade of sorts as we waved and smiled and were able to, literally, toss candy out the windows to the waiting children (and adults) on the roadside. We were able to do this here because the area wasn't highly populated and there wasn't much (any) traffic.
A time or two, as children were running as fast as they could out of the fields, our guide Bizzy got out and met them with candy so as to make sure that no one missed out on the fun. One of the many, many reasons that we love Bizzy.
The land in this part of Ethiopia is beautiful and Hope Ethiopia has a reforestation program going on in this area (as well as other things) but, as we arrived in the village, we quickly learned that the children had great needs.
Only 14 teams have ever ventured to this remote area and, we were told, we were only 1 of 2 that came specifically to work with the children. The children were horribly dirty and covered in flies; many of them had a scalp fungus and open sores. As we gathered them together to do some crafts, I was shocked to realize that they had no idea what a marker was (oh the simplest things that we take for granted). I had to physically show them to remove the cap and then color onto the crosses we'd given them.
One of the hard things about this visit was that the people in this village do not speak Amharic. They speak their own tribal language and we did not have a translator.
After we'd played for a while, we headed back down to a fenced area and had the children line up outside so that we could clothe as many children as possible. We also had backpacks filled with school supplies (there is a new program at Hope Ethiopia that is allowing for some children to attend school through sponsorship), food packets and mosquito nets.
Once again, not only did we begin to run out of some items (mainly larger sized clothes and shoes) but the crowd began to push down the gates into the area. We got really good at seeing the "it's time to pack up" signs and could quickly and safely get ourselves to the vans.
On the way out, all along the roadside, we tossed out all of the leftover items that we had that day. It did our hearts good to be able to give until we, literally, had nothing left to give on this day.