Everyday in Ethiopia is such a bittersweet experience. The warmth of the people and the beauty of the land is in sharp contrast to the despair of the people and the destruction of the land. Here in Addis the poverty and pollution overwhelm me. In the morning the acrid smell of burning plastic burns my nose and makes my eyes itch. In the afternoon the heavy diesel exhaust makes my chest tight and my head light. Oxygen sensors and EGR valves are a pain, but I’ll never complain about emissions controls again.
As we travel throughout the city beggars of all ages and genders flock to us. Any where we go the cry goes out “foringe, foringe”(foreigner, foreigner). Many children just want to touch us, most are sent to beg from us. There aren’t any words that can describe the heartache that I feel to have to turn away these little ones. They are hungry, dirty, naked, sick, and homeless. I desperately want to save every one of them, but there are just so many.
The homeless sleep on sidewalks and in the medians. Their lives are no different than the stray dogs that roam the streets.