On my visit to Ethiopia I noticed that men and women often are quite physically affectionate toward close friends. It is not uncommon to see men walking arm and arm or women walking holding hands. You could say that it is a country of “huggers.”
When I greeted men we would shake our right hands and then would to a chest bump/half hug up close. When I greeted women we would shake our right hands and then touch cheeks on the left, the right, and then the left.
On one trip we were leaving a more rural area and the guy who was helping translate for us was walking with me and grabbed my hand. There we were holding hands in friendship. Maybe I was walking too slow and he thought I needed to speed up. 🙂 My dad thought he’d take the photo above of our little friendship walk…
Although I’m not much of a touchy person I really appreciated the way people showed affection for one another. Afterall, the Bible tells us to greet one another with a holy kiss.
My daughter is from Lalo. A rural area in the Hadero Tunto area in the Kembata Tembaro Zone. The language spoken is called “Kembatigna.” (ALERT: this will be a post that other Ethiopian adoptive families will probably care about more than the average Joe – especially those who have a child from Kembata.)
There are 84 known languages in Ethiopia and Amharic is the official language. I made an effort to learn Amharic before adopting Misgana so we would be able to communicate a bit before she picked up English. I love learning Amharic, but I really wanted to know more about Misgana’s first language. The problem has always been that it is not a written down language. There isn’t a book, computer program, or Rosetta Stone for Kembatigna.
Anyways – one of my greatest joys was traveling in the region near where Misgana was from and learning some of the words of Kembatigna.
First of all, I learned that people in the region call their language: “Kembatisa” and the Amharic influence added the “igna” influence at the end.
Here are some words that I learned: (I tried to write it how it sounds.)
- Ee – tam – I love
- Ee – tank – a – I love you (long “a” on the end)
- Ana – Father
- Ama – Mother
- Heezoh – Sister/Brother
- Too – Ma – Hello
- Too Ma Hey Ee – Goodbye
- Fie-ya – Doing well?
- Min – ee – House
- Gelatome – Thank you.
- Roshsha – Min – ee – School
(The picture above was taken in the Kembata Tembaro Region by Dave Deur)
While I was in Ethiopia we stopped in to see our friends at Yezelalem Minch. This is an outstanding, Ethiopian led, ministry to assist orphans and widows. Bethany Christian Services does sponsorship through them. My wife and I started sponsoring a girl named Meron while we were in Ethiopia to adopt Misgana.
When I entered Yezelalem Minch I was walking up the stairs of their compound and I noticed Meron. She looked so much older, but I recognized her immediately because her photo is on our fridge. I yelled, “Meron!” She had a beaming smile and came over to me. I gave her a little hug and I told her she was “Konjo” (beautiful) and then we chatted a bit and I gave her some little gifts from our family.
Her father, Furgasa, was also there to meet me. Meron’s mom passed away years earlier and he has been trying to keep the family together and moving forward. He said through a translator, “Thank you for sponsoring Meron. I could not do it without your help.” I said, “It is an honor to be your partner.”
$30 a month makes all the difference for Meron and her family.
Sponsorship does work. I’ve seen it give hope and help kids break out of the poverty cycle in South Africa as our church sponsors kids to go to school and university. I’ve seen it first hand in Ethiopia where hundreds of kids are able to have an education, medical assistance, as well as food and family support.
$30/month can change a life. I spend more at Starbucks in a month! 🙂
I spent ten days on the ground in Ethiopia exploring ways Watermark might be able to join God in caring for orphans and the poor. This was my second trip to there. I love Ethiopia. I love her languages, people, landscapes, history, and amazing hospitality.
My love for Ethiopia was sparked as my wife and I began asking God where we should adopt a child from. We adopted our daughter Misgana, from Ethiopia, as a five year old in August of 2009.
I am going to share photos, reflections, challenges, and experiences from my trip on here this week.
One of the best parts of the trip was that I was able to do this trip with my dad. Thankfully he is a much better photographer than me so I will post some of the pics he took for the site. 🙂
Here we are on Mt. Entoto on our first day in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.