Uh huh! It's so for real, we can hardly believe it! We are really and truly moving to Ethiopia!
I first worked in Ethiopia in 2002 after completing undergrad. I worked in a refugee camp with Sudanese refugees. This was my first real exposure to Ethiopia directly, and certainly it was a period of time in my life that shaped me so much! My first experience in life of living alone was in Ethiopia! Crazy, huh? Nathan and I were dating at the time, and he came to visit me. After a day long bus ride that included chickens, goats, three people to a seat and death defying turns through the highlands, we finally made it to Addis. That evening he proposed (Feb 13, 2003---Because Valentines Day is soooo obvious).
I left Ethiopia in July 2003 and we got married in September 2003. Nathan started grad school soon after and I started my work at World Relief. We kept thinking that one day we would return to work in Ethiopia and always hoped that it would be sooner rather than later. We returned to Ethiopia in 2004 to check out a few projects in hopes that something would work out for us to return, but alas the timing was not meant to be.
Fast forward through Nate's whole grad school program and the first few years of mine, and we found ourselves again in Ethiopia during the summer of 2008 as I completed my field work for my Masters of Social Work. We had a wonderful summer, including meeting the child that would eventually become our daughter in Dec of 2009. Having Yitayal only strengthened our desire to return to Ethiopia one day to work for a longer period of time.
And we we searched for jobs. Nate interviewed in international schools, I talked with people in refugee work, but nothing really seemed to work out. I was offered a position in a remote place that wouldn't allow me to bring my family, and Nate was liked in many places but no positions were ever open at the right time. And so we tabled the idea and tried to move on.
Then, one day it all kinda came together. I can't really explain it better than that! An opportunity arose that would allow both Nathan and I to have fulfilling work all for the same organization. And so we had several interviews on Skype, flew to Philadelphia for a weekend long interview and were eventually offered positions to manage a children's home in Soddo, Ethiopia.
We plan to leave in July 2011---the next few months are going to be freaking insane! We are thrilled for so many reasons---a fulfillment of a long-time dream, working and living in Ethiopia, doing work that is professional fulfilling, and having the opportunity to get to know our daughters birth country in a more personal way. We will be working for an organization called Aerie Africa, and have come to really love the work they are doing.
We will work and live at a home for children (yes, some call homes like this "orphanages") and will provide management and oversight to the home and to the US based Board of Directors. As a social worker, I am primarily interested in the psychological adjustment and well being of the kids and really look forward to collaborating with the staff to ensure that we are doing the best job possible to provide a loving and supportive (albeit institutionalized) home for the kids.
So, that's the news, y'all! We are pumped! Maybe I'm just a little bit nervous. You know, packing all of those boxes, leaving my job, selling our stuff, etc. The next few months will be a total whirlwind of activity! If you are interested in providing any financial support, please check this out (including a rationale of why we need the support). Thanks for reading!