Where we come from

We ended the training of trainers on a high note. Some of the heavy fog that most participants experienced on day one had lifted to a comfortable level. We celebrated the hard work and wished each other well and then parted.

Together with the Myanmar delegation I headed for the coffee place Tomoca to pick up some pounds of one of Ethiopia’s most prized export products. We filled four big bags with small and large containers with Yirgacheffe and Harrar coffee. The aroma wafting out of the bags made me  want to stop for a double machiato but we were runing out of time.  The coffee at our hotel was terrible, I tried it once and was cured. It had a sharp burned taste. As a result I had very little of the good stuff while in Addis. I hope to make up for the lost opportunity back home.

A few of us went out to a restaurant within walking distance and celebrated some more over dinner with some bottles of local wine.Breaking bread together is always the best part of these trips as I learn so much about where people came from, why they chose the professions they did and what they are dreaming of.

In each of these stories luck and perseverance play the main roles. One of our participants grew up in a large family (many siblings and then many more cousins), so large that the family could only afford one meal a day – after he came back from school. It was a ‘grab-what-you-can-get meal.’ It has produced a life-long habit of eating only one meal a day. It is rather humbling for those of us with a snack habit in addition to three meals a day.

That he became a physical therapist was purely by accident, or rather luck – being discovered by missionaries, preparing for priesthood, then falling in love and dropping that career. An unskilled job at a place for people with disabilities earned him a scholarship in Africa, then one in Germany, one in Holland,  andsoforth. Now is a successful professional, a father of five adult children who have gotten degrees in the US, in Canada and elsewhere. If it wasn’t for those missionaries and then the girl he fell in love with, things would have gone quite different for this man and his family.

Others chose the career of helping people with disabilities to live full and productive lives because of a family member who became disabled and all are now involved in educating the next generation. I am very happy to contribute to the work there are doing in my own small ways.

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