Cris in Ethiopia

Amy speaks

Posted by Cris on May 12, 2007

Amy spotlight:  Apparently there have been some requests for me to post on the blog.  I quite happy to as maybe my dad will parade my writing around town for once!  I was beginning to feel Cris was the favorite! 

When most people think about Ethiopia a picture of a starving orphaned child often comes to mind.  Cris has done a lot of writing on other topics which is good because this country is nothing like Lord of the Flies, however, the poverty is undeniable and ubiquitous.   The begging, for starters, is pretty astounding.  I have encountered more beggars here than anywhere else I have ever been combined.  People get weird diseases and infections we don’t get in our ulta-sterile lives in the states.  Beggars display their illnesses hoping to get more sympathy and therefore more $$$. I’ve seen open sores covered in flies, men with their shirts lifted up showing their bloated worm ridden bellies, women who set out false legs, and children who run to me from their mothers ragged skirts asking for birr or bread.  Most children begging say this to try and win me over: “Money?  Dabbo?”  When this fails to get them change or bread they begin the sob story “no mother no father….”  While I am sure this is true in many cases, I don’t give to these children because it is frowned upon by the locals.  Why?  Because this country is losing its dignity because of all the international hype about Ethiopian poverty.  Instead of the proud history children were once taught about Ethiopia, now they know a country run by a corrupt government and foreign NGOs.  These are not things to be proud of.  I don’t feel depressed about it, sad yes, and sometimes angry.  I have become frustrated with all the begging, not that it is bothersome, but that so many people seem to feel entitled to receiving something.  By my giving I don’t know if I am helping by providing them with means to have a meal, or just supporting a lifestyle that does nothing to improve Ethiopia.  It drives away tourists and makes the locals depressed.  What is sad is that many people seem to have given up on working in Ethiopia.  Either they beg for change or for a visa to get out.    

I am not saying it is a cake-walk to find a decent job here, not in the least.  The unemployment is terrible and some people are so poor they are driven to do horrible things: stealing, cheating, even leaving their new-born babies to die in the woods.  When I think of that, I gain more sympathy for the person who can’t find work and must beg, or for those who are waiting to go to the U.S.  But I still get angry—where to direct my feeling I am still sorting out.  For now, I am just trying to not be a jerk and hand over a little cash.

3 Responses to “Amy speaks”

  1. mom said

    amy it’s good to hear your observations. it would be way hard to turn down a child–here in the states we have beggers but, they work for companies, i.e. telemarketers, it’s easy to tell them NO. cut them off before they tell their tale, or screen your calls. it would be so much harder if we had to see their eyes. love to you, mom (cathy)

  2. Rob said

    Amy – thanks for your insight! There appears to be no easy answers. How do you motivate yet make sure that you provide basic needs for people at the same time. Begging is easier because you can place the blame for failure on someone else rather than yourself. I think the US is unique in that we have something ‘wired’ in our culture that drives most of us to invent jobs when we can’t find one from someone else. Sure we have beggars but they are very much the minority. We will *never* be able to solve all of humanities problems, but how we treat those who cannot or will not care for themselves is our civilization measure.

  3. Tim said

    Amy speaks but can she sit-up roll over or shake?

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