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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff

Travel + Adventure = Healing - Ethiopia -2 - Double Decker Emirates Airline

Maybe you wonder, two days into this series, how this crazy girl began her love travel. Well, I can "blame" my parents (not really) when they scrimped and saved, and the crazy girl babysat as much as she could the year before to buy a plane ticket to Poland and have pocket money, too. It was a good lesson to save and then have an adventure in my ancestral lands - chaperoned by Aunt Mary and competing in the Polish Olympic Games in Krakow, Poland, in 1977. Yep, that summer trip (6 weeks!) whet my travel bug appetite for the rest of my life!

My memory of how Emirates Airlines handled the three big items I brought with me - two suitcases and one large capacity bag filled with quilts - escapes me, but I don’t think I needed to pay extra for three. When I mentioned to the counter clerk that my trip was sort of a mission trip to bring quilts to the cancer kids of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia (also written and taped onto two bags), they let everything slide onto the luggage carrier with nary a look to me for my credit card or another form of payment. I was grateful and relieved, though willing to pay my share of an extra bag or weight allotted.

I met up with Julie Broas and a very late-arriving Dr. Shad at the gate of Dulles International Airport in Virginia. We were all excited, or at least I was, because this was a work trip for the other two ladies.

Again, I pinched that I was going on this trip to deliver quilts to cancer kids and see Dr. Shad in action with Ethiopia’s top health ministers. But the plane - a big behemoth double-decker that would be home for the next 18 hours - gave me pause. I love to fly, but I felt a twinge of trepidation about how this big bird would take off safely! I knew it would, as it does for thousands of flights daily, but I’m not on those!

Did I mention that I bought my plane ticket three weeks before take-off? Due to many factors, Dr. Shad could not pinpoint a time to go well in advance, so the plane tickets were expensive. They are considered “last minute,” according to Norman, the travel agent Aslan uses for all their international travel. However, I didn’t spend nearly the amount I thought I would in Ethiopia and the UAE. Basically, my plane ticket was it, and a few hundred dollars for the rest of the two-week trip.

Traveling around Addis with a guide (Free) and driver (Ahmed) was all compliments of The Aslan Project’s sister foundation, TAPCCO (Tesfa Addis Parents Childhood Cancer Organization). TAPCCO was organized in 2013 to change the story by providing support that targets the root causes of treatment abandonment among children in treatment at TASH (Tikur Anbessa Specialized Hospital).

I was lucky to visit TASH, a sobering hospital experience that took my breath away. The Western world, specifically the United States, has nothing to complain about in any health facility across the land. The TASH hospital was stark, dirty, and had a long list of problems, yet it still treated children and adults. I snapped photos along the corridors until we reached the pediatric ward, where I put my camera away.

I can still smell the stench.




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