Hello, hello! Back from the amazing whirlwind that was Africa! I've spent the last week playing catch up with work, life, and trying to feel normal again. Being nine and ten hours ahead for nearly one month really kills upon return!
Ethiopia was unreal. I spent a few days in the Wolaita region where Podoconiosis is prevalent, more so than HIV and AIDS. Met some incredible people, aid workers and patients, and saw how our work is making a difference there. It was so moving to meet parents, who are afflicted with Podo, bring their little ones to receive shoes so that they may never suffer from the disease.
I've never seen anything like the inflammation and boils on patients feet and legs. Thank goodness I'm not faint of heart or otherwise it would have been physically difficult to be around. The good news is that they can be treated and we're making strides to provide funding for more medical kits. Check out the CBS piece from out trip they just aired last week!
Podo aside, I was surprised at how beautiful the landscape was. We were there just after the rainy season so everything was super green and lush. The food was great and I fell in love with their injera bread that you use to scoop up lentils, beans, meat, etc. Will have to hit up Little Ethiopia on Fairfax real soon! Their textiles were AMAZING too but I could go on for days about that so I'll stop while I'm ahead...or save it for another post :)
After one week there I headed to South Africa for volunteer Shoe Drops and then vacation in Cape Town.
We had a group of 25 volunteers, 6 South Africa Element crew peeps, and we gave away over 2,500 pairs of shoes! The kids were so adorable and it was awesome to see all of the volunteers jump right into the Shoe Drop craziness and make it all happen. What an amazing group of people...loved them all!
We fit in a stay at a safari lodge (you have to if you're in Africa!) and did three game drives. Saw all of the game animals you can imagine except for lions but I was okay with that. My faves are the giraffes...they are so majestic, confident, and have a design unlike any other animal....
After the week of Shoe Drops was complete a group of us headed to Cape Town for some R+R. Our beach rental ended up being in THE best beach neighborhood in the area, Clifton. It's basically their Malibu equivalent with great beaches, restaurants, and shopping all within a 5 minute walk.
I had no idea what to expect from Cape Town but it offers so much: hiking (picture on the left is from Lions Head...more of a rock climb than hike!), scenic drives, vineyards....and all for so cheap when there on the US dollar. It is difficult to vacation in a place where you know there are tons of townships (shanty towns) just in the outskirts. Many of those dwellers work in the service industry so you at least hope that your holiday spending is in some way supporting their continuous employment.
There's so much to reflect on but its great to be home. Excited to be with friends, family, and to resume creating with ANAMU...