Return To Blog

Ethiopia Trip Blog post #1: The Power of Connection

Comprehensive health, empowerment, joy, and happiness.

As some of you know, I recently spent two weeks in Ethiopia with Mudula Water visiting projects and delivering medical supplies to rural health centers in the Kembata-Tembaro region. I also got to visit the midwives-in-training from Mudula, one of whom Acupuncture Denver is sponsoring for the next four years. It was my second trip to Ethiopia but the first time I got to really spend time getting to know people and places more intimately. I was also able to meet our new son and take steps to finally bring him home. Having started our second adoption process over three years ago, things finally fell into place just before I went on the trip. The way things unfolded with that process was quite serendipitous, but that's a whole other story. What really struck me about my recent time in Ethiopia was how much pure goodness is born out of the care and concern of just one or a few people who have made a commitment to empowering folks who have been voiceless or forgotten by most of the world. My heart was broken open as I witnessed the power of this goodness and love in places where you would expect to be struck by pain and suffering instead. I was moved by the beauty of people who can now recognize how worthy they are, despite the suffering and injustice they may have experienced, because someone else cared enough to stand up for them, fight for them, and give them a voice again.

One of the most moving experiences of the trip (and my life) was visiting the women's self help groups, sponsored by Children's Home Society and Family Services in the towns of Hosanna and Mudula. Women who join these groups come together regularly to make and sell handiwork and also learn about life skills like health, hygiene, the importance of prenatal care and getting to a clinic when in labor, saving money, legal rights, and how to participate in the local economy. Not only did the women in the group learn a lot of practical skills, but they also spoke of being part of a community now where everyone cares for each other and helps each other. They spoke of being freed from living a life where they were "hidden away in the kitchens" so they could now "come out into the light." They carried themselves with pride and spoke their mind. They sang to us.

When we entered one of the large halls where the women gathered in Mudula to meet with us, the power in that space blew us away. Most of us women in the travel group on are adoptive moms with kids from the Mudula area. We were overcome with emotion as we were sung into the room and looked out into the sea of beautiful faces, faces that looked back at us with the eyes of our own children. It is hard to describe what happened in that room, but it was nothing short of a spiritual epiphany for me and many in our group.  When my friends (the other adoptive moms with kids from this area) stood up to share how it felt to parent our kids and how grateful we were to be there, I was reduced to full-blown weeping. As reserved as Ethiopian women are, even some of them were weeping and there was a lot of tongue clicking and hands-on-hearts (a physical expression there of heartfelt emotion). It felt somehow redeeming to openly weep in front of these women, the ancestors from whom our children have come, for what has been lost and yet what has also been gained when we come together as human beings with a shared love and concern. When you parent a child who has lost so much at such a young age, somehow that loss becomes your loss and you feel a longing to connect with the family and roots that has been severed. This experience, along with my experiences with my son's birth mother reaffirmed in my heart that these roots are never really severed and that nourishing these connections feeds not only our children's souls, but our own. This family becomes not just their first family, but ours. I know that at least for me, I walked out of that room in Mudula feeling like I had been blessed by my heart-sisters and connected to an ancestral lineage of strength, power and survival that now I can see every time I look into my own son's eyes. His people are my people. And for this I am so grateful and proud.