Kyle in Lake Assal, Djbouti

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hearing Family, Longing for Home

Christmas was great. Some friends and I went out on a boat on Lake Tana and enjoyed the company of a pod of hippos. Three adults and one baby seemed to be toying with us until they got a bit close to our metal-hulled boat, forcing us to back off. We brought two boys from the New Day Children’s Centre and a young girl from Dangila. After a quick stop at Debre Mariyam monastery, we returned to dry land to cook our Christmas feast.

Beef stew, mac’n’cheese, mashed potatoes, and cornbread. What a meal! I ate until I felt sick, and then at 10pm (2pm New York time) my family called. Right on time.

While this third Christmas in Ethiopia was by-far the most festive, talking to my family as they trickled into my grandmother’s house reminded me of how much I miss home. The commotion of a party growing in size, the familiar sound of my grandmother’s laugh, and even the dirty jokes being not-so-quietly repeated all reminded me of the joy of being with family around the holidays.

A few moments later, I was off the phone and settled in for a movie with my friends. It was hard to focus on the movie as I kept thinking of home. For the first time since I seriously started preparing for Low2High, I had doubts.

I don’t doubt that I can do this. I don’t doubt that I’m prepared and will have a great time. What I am starting to doubt is my decision to stay in Africa a bit longer without a break. I have been in Ethiopia for more than 2 years already. It’s been hard being away from my old life sometimes, yet I’m staying an extra few months to do what will probably be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Before Peace Corps, I served in AmeriCorps for 2+ years in Sacramento, New Orleans, and Saint Louis. Far from my native Western New York. Sometimes, I feel like it’s time to throw in the towel and just go home.

This doesn’t mean I’m backing out. In fact, watching donations come in through is motivating me even more, and as a result, I’m now fully committed. I can’t back out now. The people that are donating their hard-earned, recession-weakened paychecks want to see me attempt this thing, win or lose. All it means is that my family is still important to me, and being away for a few more months is going to make this even harder. When I finally make it home, I’m spending some quality time.

I have made a budget that accounts for food, shelter, water, miscellaneous, etc. during Low2High. I’m now convinced that spending a little extra money on communication will not be a luxury, but a necessity.


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