Friday, April 30, 2010

Foto Friday

Smiles and twinkling eyes...gorgeous IAN kids!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Moooo" in Amharic and other things for parents to know...

The following blog posts (from non-IAN families) are all helpful reads for parents with children from Ethiopia. Enjoy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Young Children's Books about Ethiopia

Unfortunately, I don't yet have any first hand knowledge of the following five children's books about Ethiopia. So I'd really appreciate it if you left a comment with your thoughts if you have any of the books...thanks!

Journey to Ethiopia with Captain Addis and Hanna

Product description from the publisher: This is a wonderful children s book that takes young children on an exciting Journey to Ethiopia. A young girl who lives in America, Hanna, decides to write about Ethiopia for a school writing contest. Hanna is so excited when a special pilot, Captain Addis, arrives suddenly and takes her to Ethiopia! Hanna discovers her pride and love for Ethiopia as she travels to her families home country. She learns about the calendar system, New Year celebrations, visits the Simien Mountains and the Blue Nile, makes a friend with broken Amharic and sees the country very different than she imagined. Hanna and Captain Addis travel to exciting places all over Ethiopia. Join them on their journey!!!
Amazon product description: Abeba Goes to Bed is about Abeba, an Ethiopian girl. As time for bed approaches, Abeba says good night to those she loves and cares about in four different languages (English, Amharic, French and German). Containing only a few words and adorable illustrations, with a family tree and a favorite Ethiopian lullaby, this is a perfect read for all the little ones and offers parents a unique and beautiful way to ease their children towards bedtime.

Counting Addis Ababa

Amazon product description: "Counting Addis Ababa," beautifully teaches young children the basics of counting from numbers one to ten in English, Amharic, and Oromiffa. Full page, full color illustrations accompany each counting lesson, depicting lovely scenes typical of life in Addis Ababa, with runners, women at market, young children, chickens, donkeys, and more. Children from all over will appreciate the bright colors, interesting scenes, and familiar faces of the characters in the book. A fun and colorful way to engage your child's early education.

Our First Amharic Words

Amazon product description: "Our First Amharic Words" has 75 Amharic words transliterated for easy pronunciation. Each word label includes the transliteration, English and Amharic language script called "Fidel".
Each word can also be heard on by native Amharic speakers.
Word categories include body parts, toys, animals, relationships, feelings, numbers, shapes and colors. The book is filled with beautiful photos of over 26 Ethiopian born children of ages ranging from infant to teenager.
Traditional Ethiopian items are used in the book and include a cultural explanation on the "What is it?" page. Also included is a map of Ethiopia and a fidel chart with pronunciation guide.

The Perfect Orange

From Publisher's Weekly: The author and illustrator of Nekane, the Lami & the Bear present the second volume in the Toucan Tales series of international folktales. Discovering a perfect orange in her Ethiopian mountain village, Tshai travels to the city to tender her prize to the great Nigus. When the girl passes the house of the Lord Hyena, the jeering animal scorns her silly gift. But the ruler himself is so moved that he tries to reward Tshai with riches. When she refuses, Nigus orders his Royal Chamberlain to follow her and give her a donkey whose saddle bags are filled with gold and jewels. The greedy hyena hastens to offer Nigus his bountiful lands and cattle. In return, the wise Nigus bestows on the crafty hyena "our most prized possession": one perfect orange. Li's watercolors contrast the cocoa-brown hues of the countryside and buildings with the stark white robes and brilliantly colored accessories of traditional Ethiopian dress; it's odd, however, that his Ethiopian characters have such pink skin. Araujo, who came across this tale while working in the Harare region of Ethiopia, spices up his retelling by incorporating Amharic words and phrases. Ages 3-12.

I do own and highly recommend Tsion's Life. Here is my review.

Again, I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of the above books. Thank you...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Foto Friday

More amazing IAN kiddos!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Amharic for ferengi*

Ethiopia has 84 languages and more than 200 dialects. Amharic is the official working language of Ethiopia. The following post has several language links for Amharic and one for Sidama.

This blog post has a ton of useful Amharic vocabulary for adoptive parents like simple commands, expressions of affection, descriptive words, clothing, food, counting, etc.

Another option is the Amharic Dictionary. Type in an English word and click the "search" button to translate into Amharic.

Another blog post gives tons of links to learning material (towards the bottom of the page).

And just to prove that there is a Yahoo group for everything, here is the link to the Amharic Online Yahoo Group.

Lastly, as most of IAN kids are from the Sidama Province, this link with useful English-to-Sidama phrases for adoptive families could prove to be very helpful.

Please add comments with any words or phrases that you have found to be useful. Also add any resources (books, websites, CDs, etc.) that might be helpful. Thank you!

*Ferengi (Feh-REHN-jee): non-black foreigner

Monday, April 19, 2010

Useful links to grief and attachment articles...

From Anita, an IAN mom:

Here's some of the links I've found helpful.
On grief:

On attachment:
Since this a well researched area I'm only sending this checklist...I like check
lists :) and these with ideas to try:

And since they were mentioned lately....
Post adoption depression:

On breast feeding:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Foto Friday

As usual, beautiful IAN kids...this time with moms, and dads, and grandparents, oh, my!

Monday, April 12, 2010

What to do, where to shop, what to buy in Ethiopia


I was asked this question and they liked my answer so much that I thought that maybe it would be good to actually do a list on this. Ok, I love lists, call me crazy. I can't import an excel spreadsheet here or i would. Here are my thoughts on shopping, buying and what to do while on your adoption trip to Ethiopia. Keep in mind we were there for 2 weeks and traveled with our two older daughters 9, 10 to pick up our two sons, at the time they were both 3. We stayed at a guest house and it was at the beginning of the new ban on going out in public with your kids. In order to get out you may like to take turns going places like shopping and museums. We did this and are very happy we did because otherwise we would not have gotten to see so much of our kids heritage and culture.

Q. Do you have anywhere that you recommend going or seeing while
there? This can be anything! Restaurants, shopping, extended trips
outside of Addis Ababa.

STUFF, hand painted and carved mancala boards, beads, bells, carved boxes, drums, stringed instruments, etc........ We would recommend this as opposed to a mall or market. Many families only have one day to shop and this is a great one stop shop for all sorts of stuff. The mall is very expensive, the market is all barter and as we did go to one and bartered down to what seemed like a lot and they really would not go down more, we paid much less at Haile Selasse fixed price market and their stuff was better in my opinion. Larger selection too, and they let you shop instead of pressuring you to buy what they hope you will get. At Haile Selasse market we saw that they had: baskets, clothes and linens, books, jewlery, wooden and metal crosses, wool and wire animals, wooden animals, etc..... Go to a grocery store on the way to somewhere, you can buy coffee at any grocery, harrar is the variety you are looking for. You can also buy some snacks and fruit to take to the orphanage and to the guest house to eat. Our boys could not eat enough bananas and milk, so I kept going out for those things.

MENALIK 2. There is also a museum in the cost of seeing the palace. It is not very big or interesting, but see it, you pay for it with the emperor's home cost. It was about 20 birr each. They let the boys in free. The view of Addis is amazing if the day is clear, so we heard and can believe it. But it was cloudy and fog enshrouded the day we were there. In my opinion it made it all the more wondrous with the mist and the chants from the church and the old barren buildings of the Emperor's first home. It was awesome!!!! THE DRIVE THERE REALLY LETS YOU SEE ADDIS AND THE COUNTRY SIDE AND HOW PEOPLE LIVE. WHILE YOU ARE OVER THERE GO TO THE WEAVERS MARKET OF THE LEPER COLONY. NO YOU WON'T CATCH IT. BUT THEY DO WEAVINGS TO SELF SUPPORT AND THEY HAVE THE BEST VARIETY AND GOOD QUALITY. YOU CAN GET CLOTHING AND LINENS HERE. If you can make it it is better than Haile Selase market for clothes and linens. You don't have to tour, you can just go to the store. I think it was fixed price too. You can go to Entoto together as it is "out of town".

WE ALSO WENT TO WALISOU (spelling?) HOT SPRINGS. There are a few different hot springs but this was reported to be the nicest, it is called walisou so if you need to ask about it and they don't know where the "hot springs" is tell them walisou resort. IT IS WELL WORTH THE TRIP. A 2 HOUR DRIVE ONE WAY. Get a private driver in a van so you can spread out if there are more than 3 of you. I think all day the driver and van cost us 80 birr. THEN YOU GO TO THIS really neat RESORT AND THEY HAVE A
TRADITIONAL LIVING. They have monkeys there on site too. A really charming resort area. The town is very typical and poor. The contrast is truly remarkable and moving. A note on swimming. Ethiopian kids are not familiar with swimming and modesty is a big deal. So, taking off their shirts and "bathing" with a bunch of people may be a bit more than some of them can handle. Ours were freaked out by this and it took a good hour to get them to just try it. Then it was fun, sort of. This is also "out of town" so you can go together.
(PHOTOS OK). This is where they have the throne of Haile selasse and the remains of Lucy and some other archaeological items of interest.ETHNOGRAPHIC Museum IS NEXT BEST (NO PHOTOS). Here they have a collection of money, musical instruments, religious paintings and a bit on several of the tribal groups. It is really interesting, especially the main floor. The grounds are a University and it is a very nice place to walk around too. You can take a tour of each with a guide or do it yourself. We suggest the guide. This is one of those things you take turns doing because you can't take your kids, and having taken them to one just before the rule, you don't really WANT to. :)

TAKE A CAR TOUR OF THE CITY AND TAKE PHOTOS OF ALL THE BIG MONUMENTS. This you can do together, just don't let your kids out of the car. Get a van if you have many of you, it is more comfortable for the long drive. The city is so diverse, you can see so much. Even if you get to drive through Merkato, that is an experience worth doing. Get photos of the Lion Of Judah, the stadium, the millennium plaza, etc.... Your driver will know where to take you.

Q. What do you wish you had bought? Or are REALLY glad you did?

we bought outfits for the boys in 3 sizes. We also bought a
wooden carved box and filled it with little things that represent
their country. (carved lion, bumper sticker that says Lion of Judah, bell, zebra, giraffe, drum, cross). I wish we had brought home a medium injera
basket. For gifts we highly recommend small carved animals, the carved
giraffes, the metal and wooden crosses as larger items and jewelry and
the wire and wool animals. We did not get enough. Small baskets make nice gift boxes for these items. I wish we had bought some of the wooden crosses and more metal ones and more giraffes. We bought a lot of coffee and that is good, but not enough. Harrar is the variety you are looking for. You can get it in the grocery and shops. We also bought hand carved and painted mancala boards, popular game but called something else, at the handicraft store you
can buy pretty painted ones. Your boys or girls may have played this game and
may be good at it and like to play together and teach you. You buy the
beads separately and you can pick. We HIGHLY recommend the Haile
Selasse market it is fixed prices but they were better than the market
variety stores on prices and variety. It is also one stop shopping if
you need that. We also went to the Christian book store and bought
some books in English and Amharic, wish we got more, and wished we had
found a kids cd, they do have them but are not plentiful. Some of the other things we bought are:
Bible, t shirts, bumper stickers, egg basket ( I collect them ), folding stool, dresses for the girls, table runner and napkins (my onespontaneous buy which I questioned myself for and am VERY happy I did buy it), jewelry, carved wooden animals, metal crosses, small baskets for gift boxes for some gifts, wire wool animals, books of stories, music one Christian Ethiopian praise and worship, one secular "Abugida", traditional (I LOVE Ethiopian music!), kids stories from the Bible, coffee, some snacks, cinnamon tea, ginger tea, hibiscus tea, black tea. We bought the boys each a soccer ball. A real one, not a blow up one; Decorative dolls, shawls.

You can go to the Leper colony near Entoto. They have a weaving business and shop there. The variety is best in the city and best cost, plus it goes to help them survive, a good cause! Think shirts, linens, shawls, etc..

A note on shopping from Matt (IAN parent):
The DVD's that are sold in front of the Friendship Mall for 20 Birr ($1.50) work at home. :) In case you want to add to your New Release collection.
- If you need to buy something and you think your getting ripped off have someone at your guest house who is Ethiopian buy it for you. I needed a 4GB USB Flash Drive and they were quoting be 1500 Birr ($120). I knew that was ridiculous. Yonathon went up there and got it for 450 Birr ($35). Sometimes they have a pause when you ask the price, when they do that just walk away.
- The restaurant LimeTree has a great pizza... and the ladies seemed to love the Lentil Soup there as well.This is all I can think of right now.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Foto Friday

It's Friday and I'm in love...with beautiful, happy IAN kiddos!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Life in Sidamo

In the 1980s, the Ethiopian Tourism Commission published several books. The text that follows is from one of those books, titled Ethiopians and The Houses They Live In, written and illustrated by Jill Last. The book is broken up into various regions of Ethiopia. I've copied the section on Sidamo, as that is where most children from Sele Enat are from.

Sidamo Region, stretching from Lake Abaya to Lake Awassa, is the deep south and the name instantly conjures up a picture of green coffee-growing country. The huge shady forest trees dense on the mountain slopes, and the brighter green of the ubiquitous ensete plant which surrounds every smallholding, fades gradually to the brown and sand of the semi-desert near the Kenya border.

Ensete actually exists as a wild plant throughout tropical Africa but the sixty-eight cultivated varieties grow exclusively in Ethiopia. Ensete is a root tuber, the same sort of thing as a yam, and gives a higher and more dependable yield than any other crop, in additional to the edible root from which the bread is made, the leaf, fibre and bark each has it uses. The people who cultivate it have developed a character for meticulousness, hard work and cooperation with each other.

The Sidama are divided into six groups and countless subgroups with sufficient confusion among the various names to baffle even the most erudite of scholars. However, the need for cooperation in achieving a goal is well-understood, and most of them inherit an intuition of the survival value of working together (even if they do not go as far as the Borena, who never fight or argue among themselves.) The men build the huts and grow vegetables with the wives' help, and the women market and clean and cook.

The Sidama provide a perfect example of the transition from tribal and semi-peasant systems to the more inclusive national and economic ones. It was, in fact, coffee which changed things. After Menilik's conquest in 1893, he divided the land between his officers and soldiers, virtually reducing the people to serfs. They suffered from corrupt local administrators and the worst kind of absentee landlordism.

But, as wild coffee gradually became a cash crop, the Sidama moved out of their traditional isolation in the marketing system which is part of the national infrastructure. They formed their now well-known associations -- the very first one formed was actually for building their beautiful bamboo woven houses, and the system was only later used for eliminating the profit-making middlemen from the coffee trade. The Sidama organized themselves, each member investing the share of capital needed to buy trucks, etc. They learned marketing, borrowing and book-keeping, and cooperation with the central government. Through their own efforts they now play a major role in Ethiopia's coffee export trade.

A fascinating people, they are nominally Christan, but some of the old pagan practices linger on; a belief in the Eye and Sacred Trees. Pythons are supposed to be a reincarnation and are kept in the houses and fed on meat. Their reputation as house guards is quite considerable.

The people wear cotton these days, only boys and the very poor still wear skins, and the charming Sidamo brimmed fur hat which can also be used to drink from. Women complete their ensemble with copper bracelets and earrings, the man a copper collar.

As for their houses -- the beehive-shaped tukul is known as the 'Ethiopian house' in many parts of the world, having been constructed by Sidama workmen on site at the Canada Expo, the IATA Conference in Athens and the Japan Expo, where it was admired by visitors from all parts of the world.

Bamboo is the material used for the framework ad is covered with grass and ensete leaves as the rainy season approaches. A small front porch shades the entrance. Inside, the family have the right side and the calves the left. Furniture is simple wooden bedsteads and stools. Near the main hut, a fence of woven bamboo or euphorbia surrounds the vegetable plot.
Extra line breaks have been added from the original text to make reading in blog format easier.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tej - Ethiopian Honey Wine

From Ethiopian Tej is pronounced as in T'édge, and is the generic name for Ethiopian traditional Honey Wine or Mead.

Tej is one of the special elixirs only available in Ethiopia. Be careful though - this sweet wine packs a punch. Tej is served in tej bet (Téj House, similar to Coffee House), or special bars set up strictly to sell tej either by the glass(glass is called Berele Be-re-lé) or by the bottle to take home. Several restaurants serving traditional Ethiopian fare also offer tej on the menus. The distilling ritual, with glass beakers reminiscent of high school chemistry lessons, is fun to watch.

Ethiopians purchase gallons of honey at a time to produce the mead and the taste can be as individual as the imagination of the person making it. The same recipe can vary from mother to daughter, for the mead is made from instinct as much as from a recipe. The extract of a native Ethiopian tree, the Gesho (similar to Hazel) imparts a bitter quality to the T'ej making it the ideal drink to complement the spicy food of the Ethiopians. The honey- sweet, bitter, dry tone of T'ej is enhanced by the food.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Foto Friday

More IAN sweeties!