Writing a single blog post to summarize a month long journey is nearly impossible. I am new to Canadian Humanitarian; I had been working in the head office for 3 ½ months when I left for the February expedition. Ethiopia was new for me, however world travel and Africa were not. I love experiencing new cultures and scenery. Ethiopia is beautiful. It took very little time for me to fall in love with this new country and its people.
I was with the expedition group for a week. I met some wonderful people in this group of volunteers. We worked together, traveled together, and shared illness together. As an employee I am grateful to those volunteers who give of themselves to come with us, work to make things better and engage with the children that we work with. As a person I am grateful to know other people who strive to make this world a better place and to help those not born into the resources we have here in North America.
One of the most memorable days in Ethiopia for me was our last Sunday there. In the afternoon we split into groups to do home visits with a number of the children and their families. Our group saw three families. The living condition of all of these families was not what we are accustomed to in North America. However, the homes were kept clean and tidy and the families welcomed us with warmth. The hope I saw in a mother’s eye as she told us of her gratitude for our programs and the chance that one of her children would now be able to succeed touched me greatly.
Our last visit of the day was very difficult; a small family was living in a tiny place for which they were grateful because it had gotten them off of the streets. However the place was falling apart and the lock on the door didn’t work. The most angering situation because of this was the fact that men had broken into their house and tried to harm the oldest daughter, fortunately neighbours came to their rescue and the tragedy was lessened. This teenage girl lives and sleeps in fear; her younger brother now sleeps on the floor between the door and the bed as an added layer of protection. The bureaucracy of it all is infuriating. The very first step should be to put a lock on the door that works, but to do that you have to go through the local government to get approval for “house improvements”, which can take weeks. I am grateful for staff over there that can check up on this family and follow up with the government so that we can make this a safer place for this family.
Travelling overseas can be mentally and physically exhausting, especially doing humanitarian work where the days tend to be long and active; but each time I have gone I have received more than I have given. Not in the sense of material things, but my life view has been opened and my mind and heart filled by the wonderful people I have met.
The work we are doing over there is incredible, if you think you can give something then please do. If you want to travel, we have multiple expeditions each year. If you have an extra $35 a month, we have children who need sponsors. There are many ways to get involved ask us for ideas and we will share them with you.
Heather Woodward, Program Development Coordinator