Friday, January 15, 2010

Hopeful work in a sad place

Up early today. 2:00 AM Washington, DC, 10:00 AM Addis Ababa. Transitioning to East Africa Time. My plane leaves Dulles at 9:30 AM, arrives in Ethiopia 8:30 AM Saturday. I'm going to a sad place, with beautiful people, to do hopeful work. Received a bunch of nice phone calls and communications. My son at college in Boulder. Our cycling coach; she is going to throw a fundraiser at her shop in Herndon, perhaps, later, a benefit bike race. My mother-in-law. Dad. Friend at the U.S. Embassy in Addis. My driver Mesay, an old friend. Cyclists with material to donate. A gifted writer with Ethiopian children.

Yesterday morning, I spoke to Raj, my friend and Swings barista. He's going to Nepal, his home, Sunday. I mentioned Ethiopia. Alfeau, another barista at Swings, her father is very sick, in Addis; he lives behind the Hotel Concord. I said "Can I do anything?" Her English is not good. Her friend, an Ethiopian at the IMF, came over for an impromptu meeting. (Small world: He knew my good friend who headed IMF press and pubs, an EHN benefactor ...) Alfeau's father has Type 2 diabetes. Could I bring him medicine? But there is not time to fill a prescription. I asked medical questions. He has no money. His medicine costs $30 in Ethiopia, perhaps three month's income. I will take him to the EHN clinic and buy the medicine.

Wednesday at Men's Group, Western Presbyterian Church, we were unusually reverent. A friend spoke of the recent tragedy, the earthquake in Haiti that killed, likely, tens of thousands. How can there be any God? Such cruelty. I believe there is God, but his scale is different, in many ways imperceptible, a thin monolayer. In this ether we are given choice and opportunity to make things better. A reason we die is to make life meaningful, so we do important work. There is an apex where we get little pleasure in climbing higher, material gain, rank or whatnot; and we hopefully, necessarily turn and give back. Whether it is nurturing children, helping youth gain confidence cycling, or cleaning an invalid's spoils. In aggregate, the world becomes a better place. That's my gut.

Time for bath, final packing. Care is driving me to Dulles. Internet access in Addis is weak. I'll write, take pictures and post when I can.

John Wimberly wrote, "Vaya con Dios." We'll see.

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