Aschalew Abebe: A Celebration of a Good Man

I said to Amber, "if I have one fear, it's that I will not live an interesting life." She smiled, patted my arm gently, and said, "I don't think you have to worry about that. Think of all of the wonderful people you've met in all the wonderful places." Amber is right.

I have had the good fortune of being surrounded by good folks who are engaging in good work. Some of them live in my local context; others live oceans away. Today, I'd like to introduce you to my friend Aschalew Abebe. He is a rare gem.

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We rattle down the washed-out road from Welkite to Gunchire as the sun slips behind the eucalyptus groves and kisses the horizon. Kilometers are marked in clusters of thatched-roofed huts and mosque minarets. I’m jostled side to side, and every pothole we hit sends a jolt through my lower back.

“How much farther?” I ask.

“About 10 kilometers,” Aschalew says, as if I have the ability to convert rickety kilometers to some measurement of time. He laughs, “What’s wrong? This road is not smooth enough for you?”

I tell him it is fine, and his eyebrows lift. The edges of his mouth, too. He says, “I know you are lying, my friend.” He changes the subject as if to distract me from the road. “Do you remember the first time we met?”

“Yes,” I say, recalling that night almost four years gone by.

Continue reading at In Touch.

*Photograph by Scott Wade, via In Touch.

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If you haven't heard the BIG NEWS yet, sign up for the Seth Haines' Tiny Letter: A Compendium of Projects, People, Places, and Things. The Tiny Letter is a personal newsletter sent to subscribers once (sometimes twice) a month, and it highlights my personal projects, a few good folks, the places I go, and the things I like. The inaugural edition--the newsletter containing the BIG NEWS--has already been sent, but if you sign up for the newsletter, I'll forward you a copy!

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

"Now I've been happy latelyThinking about the good things to come And I believe it could be Something good has begun." -Cat Stevens (Yusef Islam)

This morning I'm loading a plane to Ethiopia, where I'll be hanging out with the good people of Help One Now. Good people like Mike Rusch, whom, as luck would have it, I happened across at a random baggage claim in Charlotte. He hears no evil.

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Last night, we slept in Washington DC, the political seat of global capitalism, of wealth, of power. We respectfully declined our presidential invite to dinner at the White House, and opted instead to sit around the table of a pub that called itself "Irish" (but only on account of the fact that it served shepherd's pie and Guinness beer). It was a good crew of folks, some of whom I've known a while, some of whom I'm glad to call new friends. Chris Marlow was there. He speaks no evil.

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In an hour, we're off to Addis Ababa. From there, we'll head southward down choppy dirt roads and into the heart of a majority Muslim population. We'll eat simple food, among good and simple people. We'll play games with local children; climb a sturdy blackwood tree; laugh. We will spend time with the local leaders, learn their culture, hear their thoughts about vulnerable children in their community.

"Oh, I've been smiling lately Dreaming about the world as one And I believe it could be Some day it's going to come."

Every trip to a developing country presents contrasting monetary dichotomies. The evening before, we're dressed in our skinny self-importance, our well-tailored consumerism, our easy way of conversational dining. The next, we're standing on dirt roads, smelling country air, eating simple starches, and playing with children despite a language barrier that feels more akin to the Great Wall.

"[T]here is no Islamic, Christian, or Jewish way of breathing. There is no American, African, or Asian way of breathing. There is no rich or poor way of breathing. ... The air of the earth is one and the same air, and this divine wind 'blows where it will' (John 3:8)--which appears to be everywhere." -Richard Rohr, The Naked Now, p. 26.

This morning I'm looking past the juxtapositions, though. I'm thinking about the commonalities, the things that bind us. We breathe the "same air," as Rohr writes. We all double over in laughter, all heave at the butt of any joke. Isn't it a delightful sound? We share the same hyperventilating way of mourning, too. We all wail the same.

Yes, we're leaving on a jet plane. I hope we go in humility. Maybe the key to true humility is to realize that, in the end, we are all one and the same. Maybe the key to true humility is understanding that we've all been given the same breath of God. Maybe the key to true humility is in the knowing that each has been given the opportunity to seek union with the Divine.

I hope we go with this kind of humility. I hope we see the Divine.

I'm not sure when I'll have access and time to update, but stay tuned.

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Kabede, This is Going to Get Heavy

Johnny Cash Our driver’s name was not Kabede, but for the sake of giving you the sense of things, it will be his given name in the following. The English translation of Kabede is “getting heavy,” so it seems appropriate, and I must admit, when I discuss my time in Ethiopia, it tends to come across this way.

As a caveat, I mostly prefer to confine my discussions of Ethiopia to the internet real estate of others. I do this for two distinct reasons. First, I enjoy stirring the pot, although this enjoyment is typically confined to the pots sitting on my neighbors’ stoves. Secondly, writing in another forum allows me some notion (perhaps a feigned one) of plausible deniability...

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Follow me to my friend Lore's place for the rest of this story. I hope you're ready. This is going to get heavy.

 

 

 

 

Faces

There are stories from Ethiopia that I can't tell.  I wish I could, and maybe if we were all sitting at a long dinner table, I would.  But there are some stories best not posted on the world wide web.  Some stories just deserve a dinner table, or a fireplace, perhaps a round of good drinks.  This morning, I'll refrain from story telling.  Instead, I'll let you piece together your own.  The warrior pastorlist with the kalishnikov; the orphan's mirindi smile; the street kid in the tire swing.  All people of different circumstance.  All people filled with joy. 

They are good people

 I am glad to be home.  But I will miss their faces.

Kidmia

However, at current rate, it is estimated that it would take 5.5 million families 125 billion US dollars and 2,500 years to solve Ethiopia’s orphan crisis through international adoption alone and Institutional care is understood to be a last resort by all. --Meron Tekleberhan

A brief post to ask the good people a simple question.  If you read one article today, might it be this one?  I love the people involved in this "organisation."  What's more, I love the focus on indigenous orphan care.  I will withhold social commentary and just say, this is important to me.

After you read the article, visit Kidmia's site here.