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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff

Travel + Adventure = Healing - Ethiopia - 10 - Quilts for Kids!

My whole reason for being in Ethiopia was to deliver 35 rolled-up and squeezed-into-my-large-checked-suitcase quilts for the beds at the Mother Teresa home in Addis Ababa. That’s it.


Ahh, but it was so much more as the story and trip unfolded. It was not only going with Dr. Shad and Julie Broas of the Aslan Project in seeing how they are saving cancer kids medically in this developing nation; it was a self-discovery of my own life in relation to the rest of the world, not all of it pleasant, of course. For example, I should not complain about anything in my life (it is hard not to at times) after what my eyes drank in a while traveling throughout this beautiful country, with impoverishment, deprivation, and economic hardships silently staring at me from every corner.


After our two-day touring escapades, each ended at the Mother Teresa Home, where I played with the kids fighting cancer and talked with their parents (through interpreters/staff). They were all so great in helping me meet everyone and to report back to the parents that I, too, also battled childhood cancer with my son like they are doing right now, though 20 years ago.


What I learned in my four days in Addis Ababa with Free and the gang at TAPPCO, along with meeting the parents of the cancer children at the Mother Teresa Home, is as humans, we all want what is ultimately the best for our families. Of course, these particular families want their children to overcome their maladies. Some will; some won’t. The harsh reality of living in a nation where food to feed the millions is typically the number one priority, not treating a child's cancer - but that narrative is now changing thanks to Dr. Shad, The Aslan Project, and the country of Ethiopia now more involved with their Ministry of Health for all people living in the Horn of Africa.


As with everything else, there is a balance. At the onset, it’s heartbreaking to see the filth, stench, and hard living conditions. But, gratefully, I noticed hope and inspiration lurking around every corner, too. I’m betting that hope & inspiration have carried on under their fingertips since Dr. Shad's care arrived over ten years ago. Shad’s treatment plans and her investment in training many children’s oncologists and nurses throughout this large country are so that every kid in a developing nation such as Ethiopia has a fighting chance at a long life.


My second takeaway was spending hours with the families and staff at the Mother Teresa Home (now called TAPPCO). That’s when I was able to see the inner workings of a system that needed help, as when living in close quarters with tribal tendencies, squabbles happen. Due to the nature of the (mostly) tribal women, who all wanted the status of being the “boss,” some things had to give. The staff had to figure out how to keep the “fighting factions” calm so they could concentrate on taking care of their children. They did that by having them learn crafting techniques like bowls, other crafts, and jewelry to sell at the Marketa in town. What they earn goes to their private account to offset some expenses while living in the TAPPCO home. A win-win for sure. I was humbled and joyful to see their beautiful creations (and bought many to bring home and give away!).


On our last night in Addis Ababa, the TAPPCO house held a party in our honor. This was also the night of the "big reveal" of some of the 35 quilts I took with me to give away (we couldn't unfurl them all—it would have taken way too long). We had cute helpers, too, for the lucky quilts that came out to show the crowd. Julie, Dr. Shad, and I also received gifts made by the moms and dads of the children in the house. I was teary-eyed at how special that moment was for all of us, and I hope I will never forget that feeling of gratitude from those who own practically nothing.


Oh, and we had coffee and popcorn all night long. Plus dancing. The dirt yard was filled with shredded paper to soak up mud and puddles of water. I loved that this night was one of celebration - of life - and the people that make it happen for those families in the good fight with their children and their cancers.


My travel stories to Ethiopia and the UAE do not end here. My plan is to do another series of (10) posts on this same trip—not sure when, but soon. If you don't remember my posts in 2018 or are new to the Manufacturing Sunshine blog, my travels included two more treks in Ethiopia—Lalibela and Axum—all solo travel, and then my 4-hour layover in Dubai, which I extended to four days (now, that is a story that I started to share in Post #1).


For those reading along with the (10) posts, I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. It was a great pleasure to unpack my memories of a trip etched into my memory (okay, maybe some things are a little murky), but I know many who may be reading will not travel to Ethiopia or the Middle East unless, perhaps, it's work-related. My goal is to provide stories, photos, and color commentary (and videos when available like below) of a place in the world with few visitors-about 800,000 in 2018, as compared to France, which receives approximately 78 million visitors each year! That is a huge difference. And now many of those 800,000 have moved elsewhere and are back "home" visiting? I'd say at least one-half!


To be continued...I promise!


There are more stories to share in the enchanted lands of Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates.


bSoleille!

Terri


I loved being surrounded by all the kids. I truly understood what each child was going through more than they knew.




Photos below: 1) quilt reveal; 2) Dr. Shad serving food; 3) Julie Broas, me, Dr. Shad with our lovely swag (that's Ethiopian coffee in the bag plus the medallion baskets; 4) the staff of TAPPCO (many in this photo are still working there with Julie and Dr. Shad as bookends; 5) TAPPCO staff: Sara Ibrahim in green shirt with black jacket and Free on her right with denim tunic; 6) Dr. Shad with her lovely gift; 7) the kids on treatment with only one parent allowed (no room for families); 8) the cutest little ones dancing and playing together, 9) little girl being sweet and adorable all night long.



Video - 11 seconds on the kids welcoming me to TAPPCO



Video - 14 seconds



Video - 24 seconds



Video - last one in this post - 18 seconds








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