Friday, December 7, 2007

What's It Like?

What's it like to live in Ethiopia? I often wonder what life is like there. The poverty, the beauty? Such a dichotomy, like many countries. It took me a while to understand when we were in Botswana, that it is one of the diamond capitols of the world, Antwerp, Belgium being #1.

Gaborone is certainly not your typical African capital. By aggregating in Botswana – where 60% of De Beers’ production emanated – time would be saved, the ‘pipeline’ shortened and duplication avoided.

Moreover, De Beers was constructing a building to sort 50-million carats of Botswana production a year – more than the Botswana Diamond Valuing Company’s current 33-million-carat capacity – on the assumption that another major mine would be discovered in the future.

State-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge international technology was being applied to the Botswana project, which would support the many new diamond factories that would in time cut and polish more than $550-million worth of diamonds a year.
So I find it difficult to put the 2 together...Deathly poverty and Priceless Diamonds. Right next to each other. Gaborone is where we stayed for 10 days when we were there. And it was a short bus ride to unbelievable poverty, witchery, prostitution, drunkenness at 9:00am, several families living in one 10x10 room made out of stone or clay, a walk down the street where they could pump water, a hole in the ground covered by a rock was their "bathroom". When Monica and I were digging up the ground behind one of these homes, it smelled so bad, but what we were so afraid of was digging up something else. We would sometimes just sing out loud a song that would keep us going and not falling apart. Monica went home with both of her hands blistered open. She was the hardest working person there I'd say. So throw AIDS into the picture and no medical help or medicine and you have desperation. The men seemed to never have been in the picture, it was always women we would ask if they wanted us to plant a garden for them. So if the woman knows her days are numbered and she had the courage to give up her child, she does it without looking back. She offers her child to the orphanage "In the name of God" I read recently. This gives them peace and hope for a better life at least for their child.

When the girls come, they will most likely speak their native language, Amharic. Although there are 80 dialects in Ethiopia alone, Amharic is the primary language. That is one reason why we are trying to get children on the younger side rather than them having older and so much history and the shock of coming to another country. I would imagine the first 6 months will be very interesting and challenging for all of us. The boys learned today that the girls probably won't know English and will speak Amharic. They thought that was very cool.

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