Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ethiopia Day Five -- Cold Slap of Reality

Dhorze was quiet the next morning as we packed up our things, and prepared to head out. We were definitely on "Africa Time" as the food finally arrived about an hour after our scheduled departure. I and serveral other team members spent the spare time walking down a dirt track to a small Ethiopian Orthodox church and having an informal tour. The interior contained a number of iconic pictures and other items and, of course, the holiest of holies, which only the priests may enter. I understand each Ethiopian Orthodox church's holiest of holies contains a replica of the Ark of the Covenant (for those who are unaware, the church claims to hold the "real" ark in the Axum church Our Lady Mary of Zion -- brought there for safekeeping by Solomon's priests before the Babylonian conquest). The visit was interesting, and illustrated the spirituality of the people of Ethiopia.

On the way back to the cultural village, we had to fend off a small army of people hawking items for sale. While the cultural village is an economic boon to Dhorze, all the "selling" definitely has changed the tenor of the town. I'd hate to see something similar happen to Bora, but I'd also hate to begrudge them the opportunity to improve their circumstances, too. Development is a tough road to walk.

We took mountain roads with spectacular views for the next three hours, until we reached Soto, where the larger group had our last lunch together. From here on, the Vision Team and the Medical Team were headed in different directions, although we would meet up again one last time in Addis later in the trip.

The Vision team made its way to Lake Longono. We first checked into a resort hotel -- the nicest one we stayed in during the entire trip. But before we could enjoy the modern bathrooms, we loaded back into our van and headed to a medical clinic on the opposite side of the lake.

I was expecting to see a model for the Bora clinic perhaps ten years in the future, but that's not really what we found at Lake Longono. The couple who run the clinic were on leave in the United States, and a young American woman and her husband were in charge. It seemed the recent past had been quite stressful for her -- a lost baby during an extended delivery the night before was, perhaps, a major contributor. For whatever reason, she was frank about some of the challenges the Longono clinic faced -- staff turnover, too many sick and not enough resources, and many mandates from the government that were unfunded and imposed with short notice. As I listened to her frustrations, I realized doma needed to take some of these concerns seriously. And while the Bora clinic would be different from Longono in some fundamental ways, it would still encounter some of these same issues. The visit was a cold slap of reality -- providing aid in Africa might be fulfilling, but it was also hard work, full of potential problems and pitfalls.

We didn't stay at the clinic terribly long -- it was busy, and there wasn't much more to learn. We returned to the resort, and I took that long awaited steamy shower, getting the cleanest I'd been since leaving home. After a nice dinner, we gathered chairs outside and gazed up at the stars, marveling at how brightly they'd shine in the deep darkness of night here. Eventually we drifted back to your rooms and turned in for a night of deep sleep.

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