Monday, December 14, 2009

The Volunteers' Thanksgiving!

We've had a great crew of volunteers at Layla this fall. Of course at this time of year, they get a little homesick for friends and family. But this year they managed to have a "real" Thanksgiving, complete with almost all of the trimmings. Molly Melbom of Oregon contributed the following blog post about the event.


Well, the holiday season is upon us once more! It felt more like the 4th of July than Thanksgiving. Ivy gave all of the volunteers the day off and our day began with sun tanning at the volunteer house in the 75 and sunny weather – now THAT was a first! Originally, we had planned to do Thanksgiving at Ivy’s house with just the volunteers with about 7 people total, but that was in October and by the time November rolled around, our list was up to about 16 people. Our final head count on Thanksgiving Day was 14 adults, 1 Alazar (Ivy’s son), and 1 baby. A visiting adopting mother, whose case recently passed court, was able to spend her first Thanksgiving with her baby girl with us at Ivy’s. It was definitely fun being able to be a part of their first Thanksgiving together.

So Turkey Day 2009 was a combination of Americans and Ethiopians alike and we all enjoyed sharing our holiday with the Ethiopians who had never celebrated the holiday before. The Monday before Thanksgiving, the volunteers and Ivy hit just about every market in Addis to find all the necessary accoutrements. All in all, we were fairly successful – the only things that were MIA on the table last Thursday were French onions for the green bean casserole (which turned into stir-fried beans) and cranberries. Not too shabby, huh?!

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, we held on tightly to the hope that we would stumble upon a turkey, and just when we had just about given up, our good friend Russ called in a favor and lo and behold, a 17-pound Kenyan turkey landed right on our table (figuratively speaking of course) ! Originally we had heard that buying a turkey in Addis would cost around 9,000 Birr, or around $90, so we were definitely very thankful that Russ was able to get us a turkey! Ivy and Andrea (volunteer) had the honor of basting and cooking the bird, which by the way, was amazing! Additionally, Patrick made the stir-fried green beans; Alex made her mom’s famous rolls from scratch; Amanda made the yams and deviled eggs; and Jessica and I were in charge of the mashed potatoes. Alemzot, a friend of Ivy’s, made amazing pumpkin soup and of course, pumpkin pie that was absolutely delicious. We ended up having so much food that I think Ivy will have leftovers through Christmas! Thanksgiving 2009 was a memorable one for all of the volunteers as we enjoyed our first ever Ethiopian Thanksgiving complete with a Kenyan turkey – now how about that!?

Since Thanksgiving, the volunteers have been getting ready for Christmas by listening to festive music, making paper snowflakes, and decorating the volunteer house the best we can given our limited materials. Some volunteers will be here for Christmas and some will be leaving around Christmas. Andrea left for Uganda the Sunday after Thanksgiving; Patrick, or “Shaggy”, just left to go back home this past Thursday. However we just got another new male volunteer--Henry. Amanda and I will be leaving next week with two more volunteers coming a few days later. So the holiday season and the approaching New Year is signaling the start of a mostly new group of volunteers at Layla!
The volunteers wish you all a wonderful and safe holiday season! Ciao!

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