Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Year's at AHOPE

Gail Gorfe attended the New Year's festivities at AHOPE last week and submitted the blog post below. AHOPE is one of the orphanages in Addis devoted to caring for HIV+ children and AAI now places many of these children for adoption with American families. They have two compounds--one for older children and one for younger---and both are located near Layla House. I will devote some upcoming blog posts to all the changes happening in the AHOPE organization to further the cause of caring for HIV+ children in Ethiopia.

Susan Poisson-Dollar
AAI Director of Development
(and former board member of AHOPE, current sponsor of 2 children there)

Thursday night was New Years' Eve in Ethiopia and part of the tradition here is to have a bonfire. I was at AHOPE this year for the New Years' Eve bonfire with my husband Yonas, and two of my children, Zack and Zoya.

We got to AHOPE around 6:00pm to find all the kids at the main compound, dressed totally in white traditional outfits. All the boys had Ethiopian scarves on as well. They were walking around with colored drawings of flowers and were giving them out to the adults, in the hopes of getting candy or money. A few of the foreign adults were receiving these drawings without realizing what the kids wanted, and so the kids would stand around them waiting for something. When they finally found out, some gave some money, or gave the drawings back with an apology of no money to give.

Other kids, mostly the girls, were also singing for the adults with the hope of getting some money. There were many adults on the compound that I did not recognize---foreign visitors and AHOPE volunteers as well as many board members. It was a nice crowd.

All the kids were running around together waiting for the fire to be started. When the staff was ready, they had the children stand in a circle around the bundles of sticks and the fire was lit. The kids sang and danced around the edges, some more outgoing than others. There was a lot of clapping and cheering as the flames caught and went high into the air. It didn't take long for the fire to die down. At this stage older kids were walking around carrying Ethiopia dabo (bread) for everyone to eat, while staff members were organizing all the kids in a row along the wall, handing out candies and sodas for everyone. Little kids walked around with big hunks of bread and older kids were talking to the adults and carrying little ones around. It was a festive mood for all.

Around 7:30 the evening started to wind down and the older kids were sent to find a place in one of the cars to get a ride back to big AHOPE. I had a family with me in town for their AHOPE adoption this week. Their two boys enjoyed the evening and were excited to show off some of the things in their new backpacks, brought by their adoptive parents.

It was a nice way to end 2001 and welcome in the New Year (which in Ethiopian time started at 7pm that night—it’s 2002 now here!).

Gail Gorfe

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