It’s called Korah. It’s the dump for the capital city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It’s also an urban slum that is home to over 130,000 human beings. It’s used for shelter, for scavenging scraps to sell, for food to eat.
First I noticed just simply the massive scale of it. It’s huge. Tall, wide, and deep. Birds fly in circles overhead. Then the smell begins to overwhelm you. At times it is strong. At other times it just seems to permeate everything near you.
We spent one day in the slum taking some time to meet a few of the residents and visiting with a group called Hope for Korah.
We befriended the operators of the guest house that we were staying in. They are a young American couple living, working, and volunteering in Ethiopia for the next two years. They volunteer with Hope for Korah and were able to help arrange our time there . Hope for Korah helps with food, medical, and educational needs for people living in and near the dump.
So in this corner of the world a NGO rents a…not sure what exactly to call it…a home? a hovel? a shelter? it’s not much but it’s property and that’s hard to come by. A NGO rents it from a slum lord, spends their money repairing it, settles some residents into it, and then about a year later the slum lord raises the rent. The NGO can’t afford the increase and is forced to move to a new location and begin the process again. We were there on moving day.
We helped moved a group of elderly men living with leprosy to a new shelter. No moving trucks were needed. There isn’t much to move and there isn’t far to go. We carried beds down the road to the new location.
For lunch we helped out at an after school feeding program. Children in the community come to this location for a hot lunch and a safe place to stay. There are volunteers who help them with their school work.
We were given a quick explanation of what would happen as the students arrived.
Then it was time to start serving meals.
Each of my children found a way to help out.
That’s my youngest in the aisle walking back to see who else needs a cup of water.
By the time that lunch was over I could feel my exhaustion. Not from the physical work but from all the overwhelming emotions. My children had questions and concerns and were also so happy to feel as if they were making a positive contribution even in a small way.
A part of the Hope for Korah program is training women in the making of traditional crafts. The crafts are sold to help raise money to fund the program. I have never taken part in recreational shopping so joyfully. We bought baskets, baubles, needlework, and gifts for friends. Money well spent.
Yes, that’s me giving basket weaving a try. The woman coaching me was there with her adult mentally disabled son. She motioned me over and handed me a basket. At least I gave her a good laugh.
These women are sewing needlepoint designs on pillows.
My great-grandmother sewed her family’s clothes on a sewing machine like this. My family keeps our Granny’s machine as an antique. This one is still being used today.
While we watched the thread being spun I had to remind myself that this was not a day spent at The Atlanta History Center watching a demonstration on how people use to live. No, this is today and how these people do live.
The weaving looms were big and being used to make blankets.
The gift shop is small but well worth a stop.
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? – 1 John 3:17