>I’ve been meaning to post about the Alert Hospital, the leprosy rehabilitation center. It’s one of the places recommended to us to visit while in Addis. With an upsurge in traveling families once again, I figured I should mention this.
It’s worth it.
Go. See. Buy.
It’s outside of Addis downtown, you drive up and out of the city. It doesn’t take too long, although there is a fair bit of traffic, but it’s maybe 45 minutes out. And it’s so pretty up there. Just to drive up and out of the city where the air is fresher and you can feel the breeze, that’s a treat, right there.
The women you meet are wonderful. They invite you (ok, me) to sit and visit for a bit. They laugh and you smile back and get your driver to help translate. Mostly, like women, you talk about children, and the baby. You ask about the work, they show you and laugh when you try and muff it up. Nice. Awkward a bit, of course, but you know, it’s better to sit and talk and touch and look each other in the eyes.
After visiting with some of the women, we were able to walk around and watch the weaving and spinning and carding of the cotton. SO cool. I love looms and think they are almost mesmerizing, the clack and rhythm and click clack back and forth.
After tearing ourselves away from the looms, we wandered to the gift shop, onsite. It was peaceful and empty, quiet. We were the only folks there, and that was ok. All the items were made here: textiles, scarves, purses, clothes, tablecloths, robes, table runners, hangings. All beautiful, all different.
All the proceeds go to support the hospital – so what’s not to like? If you’re going to spend money, buy souvenirs, christmas presents, treasured mementos to become heirlooms…you feel pretty good about spending your money here.
At first, when we were told to go to leprosy hospital…I think we all thought, uh, really? My teens were not sure about this venue…I mean, you know, they’ve seen the movies and the old biblical epics with Charlton Heston and technicolor imaginings of “untouchables””lepers.” Such a stigma, right? Then my husband pointed out that it is a treatable condition in todays world, though not always caught and treated in time.
And so they came with us, with no nudges or comments. They came with us respectfully. And they saw. And they sat. And they chatted. We all did and what we saw were real people.
Real people with beautiful skills and even more beautiful eyes and smiles.
I have talked about how the faces of Ethiopia pull at me. They do. And it’s not just the faces of the children, although surely it is those faces too.
It is this face.
This is one of those faces that you want to grab on either side and sort of smush just a bit as you hold it in your hands and say “such a beautiful face!” (But I didn’t, of course, that would be rude…)
I might just have to carve out some time to paint some more, again. Although I (the perfectionist) hamstring and stop myself before I start, knowing I can never capture them right or do them justice – but that is fodder for another post….
But this face. These faces. With smiling sparkling eyes and a beautiful smile. These are the faces in God’s own heart and mind. And now, indelibly, in mine.
Go. See. Visit. Buy. It’s worth it, every awkward guilty joy gilded minute, it’s worth it.