We’re two mommas from Maine who traveled to Ethiopia in April 2009 to visit approximately 800 orphans. Between us, we have 7 children who have provided basic training for this assignment.
We’re no strangers to adventure. In 1995, we packed up a car, drove south to Key West, and then sold said car. We lived on the island for a year before deciding to become all responsible (move back to civilization, start careers, get married, have kids). Ethiopia was an adventure of a different kind. We flew to a continent where our heart (and our resolve not to use outhouses) was stretched.
A lot of people ask us how we “got into this?” Which seems like a pretty easy, straightforward question. Yet the answer is elusive. Maybe it started with stumbling across a blog or an article and evolved into a near obsession with countless books on extreme poverty and the orphan crisis in Africa. It was then time for a field assignment. Our hearts, minds, and eyes were open as we embarked on this adventure with certainty that we will return forever changed, and perhaps utterly ruined.
Ethiopia is one of the 5 poorest countries in the world, with 4 out of every 5 people living on less than $2 a day. There is one doctor for every 100,000 people.
Children are dying as a result of drought and lack of food.
Waterborne diseases claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of people each year. One Ethiopian child in 10 dies before their fifth birthday; half of those die from diarrhea. Just 1 in 3 people have access to clean water. Most women in rural Ethiopia spend hours a day collecting water from distant and polluted sources. Many girls never get an opportunity to go to school because the responsibility of collecting enough water to keep their families alive takes precedence. The presence of HIV/AIDS, extreme poverty and a lack of basic healthcare in Ethiopia are fuelling an orphan crisis. Research shows that an estimated 4.6 million children have already been orphaned, and the government would need a monthly sum of $115 million – almost equal to the country’s annual health budget of around $140 million – to assist them. We’re not asking you to care, we’re just saying that we do.
Wendy & Erin met in 1993 after realizing a shared affinity for Nine West shoes, and have been close friends ever since. They became sister-in-laws in 2001, when Erin’s brother snatched Wendy up as his wife. Both families reside in Southern Maine; the 3-mile road between their homes is well traveled. Their table reservation size is currently 12.