It was July 1st that I set of from Dublin Airport full of excitement and I must admit some apprehension! Not afraid of the prospect of the mission itself but simply venturing off into the completely unknown; but it’s okay as it’s adventure I thrive off!
Having received so much support in fundraising from family, friends and the school community here in CCS, I had all my finances in order for the trip. I was going to spend two amazing yet tough weeks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia volunteering with the beautiful orphans in the Sele Enat Mahiber Orphanage. I was one in a group of five that were to work together with a NGO called ‘Projects Abroad.’ We arrived in Ethiopia at an ungodly hour of the morning! On our way to the orphanage where we would be staying we were shocked as we saw people lying on the streets, wrapped up and sleeping. This atmosphere was absolutely breathtaking as everything was completely different; the smells, noises, dogs barking everywhere and the conditions some people were sleeping in. It was extremely hard to hold our tears in! After settling in with my wonderful host family it was time for my first day’s work at the orphanage. I hadn’t even set foot in the place, only to be greeted by crowds of smiling, happy kids who shouted ‘welcome’ and ‘ferenji’ (a derogatory/friendly term for a foreigner).
On the very first day we met Projects Abroad staff members Hanna and Haile (our driver) who took us on a tour of Addis Ababa. It was unbelievable how friendly everyone was; everyone said ‘Hello’ when we walked past them. We went for a spin through the two five-star hotels which made the disparity between the rich and the poor very clear. What made it even more unusual was that outside these fancy hotels were homeless people lying on the grass, face down, sleeping.