After a 29-hour trip back, we have returned safely to the U.S. In summary, our trip in Ethiopia was extraordinarily productive, quite emotional, happily sweet, and deeply exhausting.
I want to thank each and every person who helped us collect donations for the Beautiful Together Korah Disaster Relief Center. It is beyond surreal, how substantial the damage is to this village we have spent time in again and again over the years. The collective grief is felt deeply in this community, where they have lost more than 100 family members, friends, and neighbors. Hundreds still sit in the middle of Korah, gathered in a Mourning Tent, clutching framed images of those who passed away so suddenly and so violently. Their pain is palpable, and the dignity and respect they demonstrate for those they have loved, and lost, is incredible.
And the burning acrid smell of the landslide, the utter destruction of so many homes, the loss of life, and smoke that still burns – a mix of the methane fires that erupted and the efforts to clear out dangerous debris left behind – is so strong it burned my throat in minutes. And I was wearing a protective mask to manage the fumes.
Our relief efforts are being disbursed in stages, to best ensure that all of the supplies go directly to those in great need. Handing out medical supplies, hats, scarves, mittens, and blankets directly to those in desperate need was difficult for many reasons, but we were quite grateful to have the opportunity to do it. Mattresses, more blankets, and food were all purchased and will still be distributed at the most optimal time, coinciding with the withdrawal of local support – which is expected to be very soon.
I will keep updating on the progress of these relief efforts going forward. It is truly grateful to see how many people care.
Donations are still being accepted at the Beautiful Together Korah Disaster Project Page.