CEF Goes to Africa - A Visit to the House of Hope and Laura's Place

by Leah Yee, CEF Social Media Coordinator  

Our CEF board members have landed safely in Africa and have been having an incredible and inspiring few days as they have been visiting projects and sites daily. Here is the first in a series of travel updates from CEF's Director of Projects, Sue Dick, on their first day in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where they visited a hospice and an orphanage:


“House of Hope started as a hospice providing women with AIDS a place to die with dignity.  Today more than 80% of the residents walk out 2 months later healthy and ready to start a new life.  The founders having to alter their programming to include helping these women find work or start a business once they are well.  The survival is said to be partly due to antiretroviral drugs and improved nutrition but largely due to the compassion they receive... feeling cared for and valued.  Having someone listen to their story with an open heart and providing regular hugs goes further than anything else.  

We were invited to have coffee.  The beans were rubbed with water by hand, then roasted, crushed using a simple metal mortar and pestle, water boiled and then poured into a ceramic coffee pot.  Coffee poured into small cups and served to us with great appreciation for what they believe is our contribution to their home. We were greeted by 3 women working at the home and 4 residents. One woman was particularly frail, covered in blankets and looking to be in pain and very scared.  I had wished I could sit on the couch with her and hear her story.  The inability to communicate creates an awkwardness. As we left, one of the women stood and opened her arms for hug for what seemed to last for a minute. I hugged the more frail women who was very hot and likely suffering from a fever. As we stepped into the van, I saw Robert holding back tears.  I put my hand on his leg to acknowledge the emotions stirred up inside of us. We cried.

From there we went to Laura's Place which is a small orphanage where today 10 girls are studying to write their nursing exams.  Most of these girls have been cared for at other similar homes since they were young and have been chosen to come to this house to study nursing as they are at the top of their class. The house is modest with 4 girls sharing a room but it is clean and they are well fed and safe.  Life there is so great in fact that many do not want to graduate as that signals the time for them to find their own way.  

We are all feeling awkward in visiting these projects as we cannot converse without understanding the language. What is our place here? How can we start a dialogue so we can learn more from them but also share a bit about why we are here.”

Our thoughts are with everyone on this amazing trip and we are looking forward to learning more about the work done in Africa!