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Wednesday
Jul012009

Two Days in Addis

After arriving safely at Bole International Airport, we took our shuttle to the Hilton Addis where we'll park for the first four days of our trip. The Hilton is a four star affair well known to business and foreign travelers to Addis Ababa.  

The Hotel lacks for nothing we can find and has kept us in good breakfast food, hot water and internet since arrival.  If you stay here, bring your swim suit; the hotel has a pool filled with naturally heated vocanic spring water.

We've not hung around the hotel much during the day, however. Our first full day in Addis was spent knocking off the major tourist attractions, including the History Museum, Ethnography Museum, and Haile Selassie's former palace, which now serves as a national university.  Our second, was spent touring the rural countryside to the South of Addis -- an area known as Crater Lakes.  In both cases, we enjoyed the deep immersion into Ethiopian culture with the moderation of a very experienced guide.

At night, we returned home to the comfort of the Hilton and enjoyed a good night's sleep filled with the sound of barking dogs.

Saturday
Jun272009

From Despair to Dignity

This trip will include a visit to the Fistula Foundation's Hamlin Hospital in Addis Ababa.  We're excited to learn more about their work and success is curing one of the most devastating issues in woman's reproductive health: the formation and aftermath of fistulas.  

Fistulas are holes that develop between a woman's birth passage and one or more of her internal organs due to complications in child birth.  These holes develop over many days of obstructed labor, when the pressure of the baby's head against the mother's pelvis cuts off blood supply to delicate tissues in the region. When the dead tissue falls away, the woman is left with permanent incontinence of urine and/or feces and, perhaps worse, is abandoned by their husbands and ostracized by their communities because of their inability to have children and their foul smell.

The Fistula Foundation was founded as American Friends Foundation for Childbirth Injuries (AFFCI) in 2000 by Richard Haas and his daughter Shaleece. Mr. Haas served as a teacher in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia from 1967 to 1969, prompting him to return with his daughter to visit the East African country in 1999. The Haases visited the Fistula Hospital and were moved by the oasis of healing created by Dr. Catherine Hamlin and her late husband, Dr. Reginald Hamlin.  When they returned to the US, they formed the Fistula Foundation to channel US financial support to expand and improve efforts to correct this problem.

Since 2006 the Foundation has consistently earned the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Seal for meeting all twenty of the BBB's Standards for Charity Accountability and in 2007 the Foundation was awarded a "Google Grant" from the internet powerhouse Google, providing the Foundation with free advertising on the Google network.

One of the fastest ways to get up to speed on this issue is to watch the movie A Walk to Beautiful.  I guarantee you, if you have a heart, this movie will touch it.  You can also read the book Hospital By The River for a more detailed look at the Foundation, it's formation and the issue it's tackling. 

 Our visit will include the delivery of 150 pounds of donated medical supplies for the Hospital.  We're pleased to be the ones who get to deliver the results of thoughtful giving by others in the United States.

Saturday
Jun272009

Up, Up and Away

Today's trip starts with the service of Ethiopian Airlines, the largest and most respected African airline.  Ethiopian has a modern fleet, notable service and a great safety record.  We're looking forward to racking up the ShebaMiles and experiencing "The New Spirit of Africa" in the air. 

Saturday
Jun132009

Trip Booked

We'll soon be leaving for Addis Ababa on a new and very powerful adventure.  This trip will include sightseeing and some culture absorbtion, as well as meaningful visits to three social purpose organizations.

Sunday
Feb222009

Trip Shaping Up

Looks like a trip to Ethiopia is shaping up for May.  There's a special personal attachment to this trip, so I'll look forward to sharing the details as they become more firm!