On the morning of our first full day (Monday), I woke up...oh yes, I didn't really wake up, but I got up...and was ready for the day I would meet our new daughter! For the record, this is the bed I lay awake in for many, many hours on this trip.
While I was waiting to go downstairs for breakfast, I took some photos of some buildings across the street from the hotel. I learned from the hotel manager that this building, which Kristin took a picture of on her trip a few months ago, is going to be a clinic. The scaffolding is beyond description. It's just all wood! I have no idea how these folks feel safe on it and you now there isn't workers comp in Ethiopia!
Interestingly the sliver of a yellowish building to the clinic's right is a residence. I asked the manager about this because it's clearly a very nice home. He said that in Ethiopia, the rich live among the poor. There is no segregated area for them, no gated community if you will. Their homes are gated, but they're right there in the middle of all the hustle and bustle and poverty.
This is a picture on the other side of the hotel. This building will apparently be apartments when it's complete. I wonder how long it takes to build a building in Ethiopia because, let me tell you, it's not a quick process! These shacks to the left of the apartments being built are mostly residences. Danny, our fantastic friend and tour guide, lives in one of these with his parents, his sister and his brother.
At about 10:30, we all headed up to Hannah's Hope in the rain, which had thankfully slowed down.
We approached the gate and Almaz knocked. Dom, one of the employees there, answered and we began to slowly file in. Almaz had asked that the parents of older children go in first because the children were so anxious and if they had to sort through too many faces to find their parents they might become overwhelmed.
I will also take this opportunity to say that one of the many things about Hannah's Hope that so impressed me was the number of men working there. They have many jobs: drivers, handymen, and lifters of heavy things, but what struck me the most was their role with the kids. They provided an important male presence for all of the kids and at least one of them could always be found playing soccer with the older kids or chatting with a younger one. The toddler girls who were coming home with members of our travel group just loved some of these guys. I think it's so healthy that they are cared for by both men and women in this amazing place.
I was in charge of videotaping some of the parents meeting their older children. Watching that unfold was the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed, and I considered it such a privilege to be there to see how amazing these parents were in the way they approached their new children. I will never forget those moments for as long as I live.
After the older children had been united with their parents, Almaz individually united each family with their baby. I don't know where I fell in the line-up because I was having too much fun watching the older kids. At one point, I heard Almaz say, "Who has Rahel?" That's me!
She took me inside and told me to wait in a little room off to the side. I thought she was telling me that Rahel was in that room, which led to the confusion documented below. All of the babies were in the downstairs "baby room," and there were enough of them in there that it would have been nuts for me to try to go in there and find Rahel or be united with her in there. So, this little room was a great idea! Stuart graciously offered to videotape the meeting. She was exactly as I expected --- perfect (and very small!). She's a very content kid, which is good because after 4 who were NOT so content for the first year (or seven) of their lives, I deserve a content kid!
Here we are, still in that little room! Over the next few minutes, other families trickled in with their new babies. It was a great place to escape the constant movement in the front of HH. With it raining, everyone was inside. It's a lot of people to fit in there and there's lots of activity going on all the time with special mothers preparing bottles, cleaning, feeding babies, etc.
After 45 minutes or so, it was time to head back to the hotel for lunch before our embassy appointments. We were told to be back at HH at 1:50 sharp so that we could get our kids, load into the vans, and be at the embassy by 3:00.
Little did I know, I was about to hit a wall!