This is our last day in Ethiopia. We are so nervous and excited to visit the orphanage Sifen came from. She spent her first two months of her life there. We also have our huge lot of donations to take to Biruh Zemen Orphanage. We have to drop off Marley again at House of Hope. This time I'm not wanting to take her back to that crib she's been in for four months. I know they love the babies, but not like me. They won't hold her like me, feed her like me, nurture her like me. Two to Three hours, that's all I keep telling myself. The nerves are running all through me. I can't settle them. I'm trying to focus myself on documenting as much as I can for my little Marley. This is my one opportunity to learn about where she came from and the circumstances of her coming to us. What a responsibility, what an honor!
We pulled up to House of Hope and I walled up those stairs to put Sifen back in the arms of one of the nannies that cared for her for so long, yet I worry about her care. I wonder if she will miss me, will she wonder why she's back in the that room again? Will she be scared? I put her in the arms of a nanny and watched as she looked at me and then looked at the nanny. She seemed alright. As we pulled off in the van, I wondered how long the drive would be.
After about 40 minutes, and a drive through a more beautiful Ethiopia than Addis Ababa, we arrived at Biruh Zemen. Almaz, our translator, knocked on the gate and we walked into the compound like orphanage. We stood at the gate that she was brought to by her first mother, her Amaye. I wondered how her care was when she stayed here. So many things ran through my mind. Almaz and a staff member started getting into a heated discussion. Brandon and I were confused and taken back. Not knowing any Amharic, we waited for an explanation. We were told that the orphanage director was not there. She was told that we were coming, but somehow wasn't there. We didn't know what that meant and it seemed like we were just supposed to leave. I asked if we could look around and take video and pictures. They agreed. We saw the room Sifen stayed in. It brought me to tears. My sweet girl was once in this room, she spent her first months in this room. It was sad room. Although probably a better life than she would have had, yet a small room with the infamous handmade cribs holding about 4 babies each, just separated by painted plywood. The floors were swept clean, but stained with dirt. The walls were damaged with water stains and mildew. The sheets and blankets were old and stained. While their standards and priorities are not mine, she was cared for, just not by us. We toured the place and took pictures and video to share with our Marley one day. We then gave them the donations we had collected and they were overjoyed. The quickly took them all into a room and started going through everything. The children stood around us and we couldn't help but to give them fruit roll ups, which we quickly found was an favorite! Then it was time to go. What a sad ride back. I held back tears and stared out the van window, absorbing the town and roads where Marley's Amaye may have walked.
Back at House of Hope, I quickly made it up to the second floor and into the room Miss Marley was in. Thankfully, she was sleeping and I got to be the one to wake her and the first face she saw. Ahhhh, my sweet girl. Today we celebrated our children with a traditional Ethiopian meal with a coffee ceremony. What a great treat. Again, Brandon couldn't refuse coffee and I was loving it! They showed us the raw beans, and as we ate lunch, one of the cooks roasted ground and brewed the coffee. We drank it with popcorn, it's the tradition! What a wonderful time we had. We loved Tsegay and Almaz and the rest of the staff. Fikre and our driver, took us back to Melkam Guest House. As we rounded the corner from House of Hope, a man sitting on the corner shouted out to us, "Thank you for taking care of our children." What an emotional day.
Zeyede drove us to the airport, such a friendly man. We said our goodbyes to him and to Ethiopia and headed into Bole Airport to ready ourselves for the long ride home. Our flight home was long. It was not easy. But we are here, home on U.S. soil at last. Praise God!