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How did Ethiopia happen?  Well, I have a dear friend that works for Engage Now Africa and they are building a school in the village of Yerer in June.  And I’m on the letter “E” so what else could I do but participate?  I informed the organization that I’m turning sixty in June and hope I can be helpful. They responded by telling me there are several 70-year olds on the expedition!

I’ve been to St. Luke’s Travel Medicine Clinic which was a new experience.  It’s most helpful because in addition to getting the required immunizations–DPT, Hep A, typhoid, meningococcal, etc.–the nurse practitioner talks with you specifically about the region you’re visiting.  I met with Kathy Hite who shared great advice.  She said “prepare for your heart to be broken and filled and broken again.”  She said it would be heartbreaking to see the living conditions of the people but my heart would be filled because the people are so appreciative and loving.  And then my heart will break again when I have to leave my new Ethiopian friends.

I realized this will be a very different experience for me when I read the following:  “Once you arrive in Africa, ONLY drink bottled water or carbonated drinks where you have removed the top personally.”  Not so surprising, but then this: “Please wash off the tops of beverage container before use.”  WOW.  Not only must I drink bottled water, but I have to sanitize the bottle before I drink it!

I’ve been accumulating a stash of travel items.  The recommended insect repellant must have 35% deet and there’s a bug spray for CLOTHES! I can spray before packing, so I got one of those packing cubes because I’m sure they’ll stink! I’m armed with Imodium for travelers’ diarrhea and antibiotics in case it gets worse.  I’ve got melatonin for jet lag and antibacterial wipes for my bottled water.  Oh, and a roll of toilet paper for use in the village (yikes–I hope I don’t get diarrhea).

There are items needed for donation.  If anyone wants to contribute I’ll be happy to pick your donations up before I leave for Los Angeles on May 27.  Please contact me as soon as possible.  Here’s the list.

*Educational visual aids of all varieties from Kindergarten to High School level.  Posters, maps and other items typically hung in a classroom.  Please laminate all posters to preserve them.

*Chalk and erasers

*Reading and reference books are wonderful if weight permits

*Flash cards and simple educational games for teachers to use

*Soccer balls, bubbles, finger nail polish, jump ropes, flip flops, hair accessories and other items to play and interact with children

Wish me luck.  This is unlike anything I’ve ever done but I’m very excited!

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