March 2011 Update from Addis Ababa
Stories of Sadness and Hope In the summer of 2010, we started a new project, Tuberculosis Active Case Finding. In case you are wondering why an AIDS project is doing this, over the past few years, we have found that our beneficiaries are dying of undiagnosed or late diagnosed TB, a consequence of their impaired immune system, poverty and living in a crowded urban slum. We felt that there must be more TB out there than was being diagnosed.
In the process of visiting homes and doing surveys to determine whether or not we think someone is a TB suspect, we met a woman who was clearly dying. There was nothing to do but good nursing care–make her comfortable, pray for her and support the community around her. She was of the Ethiopian Orthodox faith and even in her poor condition was resistant to us praying for her since we were not Orthodox, but finally did allow us to. As we found out about her life from her neighbors, a verse of a song that became special to me on my first trip to Ethiopia in 2005 went through my head (see following this article). Her life was lonely–because she had chosen that. Her neighbors told us that she never associated with anyone in the neighborhood, and was estranged from her sister who lived fairly close by. They told us she “got a better funeral than she deserved”, but in the end, the community from whom she kept her distance cared for her in her last hours and buried her.
While there is always sadness here, there is also the joy of seeing good things happen. On our last medical team, we were able to get an 8 year old child in the project a hearing aid. This little girl, Tesfanesh, was told not to come to school because of a significant hearing deficit. We pleaded with the school on her behalf and she has been going to school. Because Audrey, the pediatric audiologist from one of our supporting churches in Brooklyn, NY was able to bring an audiometer and hearing aids, Tesfanesh has had her hearing tested, has been fitted with a hearing aid, and can now hear much better. She is now doing better in school. Her mother is dead and her father, while he takes good care of her, is not well himself and I’m sure is overwhelmed by an active 8 year old. She is very loving and craves attention. She will be coming to the office regularly so that we can make sure she is using the hearing aid appropriately and to have some female adult attention. She is a good example of the coordinated care that we try to give our beneficiaries and their families. She reminds me of another verse of the same song:
Untitled Hymn by Chris Rice
Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain
Cry to Jesus (x3) and live.
Oh and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
When you can’t contain your joy inside
So dance for Jesus (x3) and live.
Work Permit Update Thanks to all of you who have been praying about my work permit since my Christmas letter. Things have been progressing; all of my documents have been submitted to the appropriate government agency. There is significant urgency to this, as my two-year business visa expires on April 3rd. There is no guarantee that it will happen in that time, so I may have to make a trip back to the US to renew my visa. So I am waiting to hear when my appointment is. In the meantime, there is plenty to keep me busy!
North Africa Unrest Thanks to many of you who have emailed and asked about my safety here in Addis, in light of all of the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East. At this time, things are quiet here in Addis and we do not feel any threats, other than the usual need to be careful about petty theft when out and about. While it is a constant story on the daily news, and always in the back of my mind, the day-to-day issues of living and working here are more in the forefront. However, there has been some recent violence and persecution of Ethiopian Christians in the south of Ethiopia, so we do remain vigilant and prayerful.
- For favor and timely action from the government office that has to approve my work permit.
- For wisdom to know whether or not to buy an airline ticket to the US.
- For continued progress in language learning. I’m thankful for a very patient tutor, Dawit.
- For work permits for Michael and Emily Treadwell.
- For setting of my priorities in the medical care of our beneficiaries, coordinating medical teams, TB project leadership
- For new team members who are now raising support in the US, Jason and Liz Polk and Jessica Ringsmuth.
- For the upcoming marriage of two of our Ethiopian staff, Danny Abebe and Betty Tsedeke in May.
- For a good 2 weeks with the medical team from Baltimore/Brooklyn, NY, 2 churches who are significant supporters of the project and of me.
- For faithful supporters who allow me to be here doing what I love.
EXTRA EXTRA EXTRA EXTRA!!!!!!!!!!
MY WORK PERMIT HAS BEEN ISSUED, AS OF THURSDAY, MARCH 24th!!!!!
Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement through this process.