November 2, 2011

the trash dump.

the dump.
I've put off blogging about this, because honestly - it's so emotional and even though it's been over 3 months since we were there, it's still pretty raw. Many of my team members wrote about it that next day or while we were still in Africa but I am still having a hard time putting into words what happened that day. I did get a chance to journal on the way home & so I'm basically just going to share with you what was going on in my head & heart a few days after this day. The day we visited the trash dump.

My story of the trash dump is really nothing without the story of Eyob. Or, Job, as he let me call him ("like in the bible") this white girl isn't too great at Amharic yet....


This is Eyob. He's 16.
We met the very first day I was in Korah. I think we just met outside the church on the street, but obviously God brought us together for a reason. He told me that day that he loves Jesus, and he likes to read his bible. He is a part of P61 & goes to boarding school. His sponsor is now a friend of mine, from Nashville. He talks about all of these things. What he doesn't talk about is his past. Living on the trash dump.
Until we meet at the dump....


We thought we weren't going to be able to go. Just a select few from our team. But when we got there, by the grace & BIG PLAN of God, we were ALL (38 of us!) invited to enter the trash dump. This is unheard of. No one gets to go on the dump anymore, much less the biggest team in VO history. God had a specific reason & agenda for us that day.

My words can't explain or describe the sights, smells or emotions of that day. Before we even stepped foot on the dump, I heard my teammate Michael Gibson say "this is breaking my heart" and moments later the tears started to flow. Imagine piles and piles of trash, rain boots to your knees with "mud" sloshing at your feet - never certain what you might be stepping on. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw that day. I've followed P61 & I knew that Sumer and her family moved to Addis to get kids off the dump and into school, I also knew the boys we were with all week were those boys, BUT until I saw the dump, I didn't get it. I couldn't fully understand the HOPE that Project 61 brought them. It's humbling just writing this. To know that God could use me and call me to love the fatherless, the unlovable, the outcast. Most people that live in Addis won't go to Korah or the dump, they are afraid of it. It's a place of great fear. Back to the dump... I couldn't look at the faces of the women with the babies strapped to their backs without thinking of my precious friends in Midland & their babies. Just looking at the women at first brought too much emotion. It was too hard, I wasn't ready to see the pain in their eyes. It was all too much for me.


Back to Eyob. We had been there 5 or 6 minutes when all of a sudden here comes Eyob. That broke my heart even more. To see him, my new friend, feeling at home at the dump. He walked with me up to the very top of the trash pile as the team got ready for our crew to do some filming for the documentary (which we pray will bring GREAT awareness). I was standing at the top of the trash dump, linked arms with Eyob, when his friend looked at me and said..."we all used to live here this time last year". living. sleeping. eating. playing. working.
LIVING. ON. THE. TRASH. DUMP.
My friend! Eyob!
How do you even comprehend that? All I could think while I was up there before was how unfair it was. How just not right it was. Then when I heard that Eyob used to spend all his time here, I couldn't stop praising and thanking God for rescuing him from this place. And asking him to rescue the others. While we were up there Eyob & his friends found a sugar packet from Ethiopian Air (the airlines we flew) in the trash & picked it up and ate it. Oh man, it was too comfortable for them up there. I didn't like it one bit.


Right before we took this picture together Eyob looked at me, standing on top of the hill, and said "This is my story". This is my story! All I could utter back to him was "not anymore". And hug and squeeze him tighter. His story, his life, was the trash dump. And NOW because of P61 and his sponsor, he is going to school. In 9th grade. He has lots of friends. He gets along with others well. He is HAPPY to be at school & not in Korah. He is a teenage boy with hope, and with a chance. He dreams of being a pilot one day! Can't you see it? Former trash dump kid who used to eat Ethiopian Air sugar packets now flies for Ethiopian Air!

He wanted to take a picture with me. Clearly, this was not my day for pictures. I wish I had a better one of the two of us, but this is a great depiction of our day together at the dump. He spent most of our time up there comforting me and telling me not to cry. As we were walking off the dump, we saw a group of teenage boys. He looks at me and says "those are my friends, they still live here". My heart broke all over again. Some of those boys are up for sponsorship through Project 61 - if you want more info, email Erin @ erin@p61.org

When I left Eyob, I gave him a big hug and told him that I loved him and that I would be praying for him. I can't get his face out of my head. For me, Korah & the dump just got really personal. It's not just a story I pass along anymore, it's a story about my friends that I dearly love. I will never forget the way the dump smelled that day. But I know that I have a responsibility, now that I have seen....

Most of all, what the leaders of P61 & Great Hope Church want from us is to tell people about what's going on & to pray. One of the band of brothers said, "don't cry - PRAY! Our god is strong, our God is big". WOW! I wish I had the kind of faith they have!

So let's pray for our friends in Korah. Let's pray that "they will be called oaks of righteousness"
Isaiah 61

Hope for Korah sale still going on.....

{one of the prints you can purchase}

5 comments:

  1. it's hard to even have words to type... I've seen and read this story so many times but it always reduces me to tears. Praying that the Lord continues to break our hearts for these precious people.

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  2. wynne, i have so much enjoyed reading your blog and your journey. i felt compelled to comment after reading this earlier in the day and having the images and your words stuck in my heart throughout my afternoon. things of this nature have been heavy on my heart for the last year or so, and i am especially grateful that you want to just show love to god's people. i feel like you get it in a way that many do not, as it is not about "saving" people or really changing things. it is about loving the sweet souls that exist in a different reality than our very comfortable lives of what seems like gross excess in comparison. love through offering a clean drink of water. or holding a hand. or looking into their eyes. your words and your photography are touching. thank you for sharing them on your blog. much love to you on your journey.

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  3. I read this passage this afternoon and immediately thought of your blog post ... "He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, even the princes of His own people." Psalm 113:7-8

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  4. i didn't know people live at the dump! we drove by it the first two times and i got so sick. the smell lingers for miles. we didn't get to go this time, which made me incredibly sad after seeing your "restoration" picture, i really wanted to go and pray there. this is so amazing. God is so powerful.

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thanks for the love!
wynne.elder@gmail.com