Refugee Services Intern reflects on trip to Ethiopia

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to join my parents on a trip to Ethiopia. Through my internship at Lutheran Services of Georgia as well as volunteering with the Clarkston Community Center this summer, I have had multiple exposures to Ethiopians as well as knowledge of their culture. Regardless, traveling to their homeland brought a much more realistic and rich picture of the country.

Upon arriving, I first noticed how extremely kind and friendly the people were to us. Though they face difficulties from economic aspects as well as physical needs, their hearts are grateful and full of joy. I was able to visit four different villages and play with the children there through the local churches. We organized games with balloons, bubbles, candy and more! It was a great time of fun.

For a specific village, we took the children to a nearby restaurant for a special meal. As they sat awaiting the food patiently, they eagerly tried to teach us Amharic and loudly laughed as we attempted to imitate the sounds of the words. Once the food arrived, their mouths watered and their eyes shined. As I was sitting with the girls, they broke the pieces of injera and dipped it in the meet tibs; quickly without hesitation they brought it to my mouth! My heart was touched as these hungry children chose to put me and honor me first. When I denied kindly and told them to eat, they insisted on feeding me. It was a moment that taught me what true, purely innocent love is.

As the trip continued, we were able to interact with many Ethiopians who recently put their faith in Jesus. It was powerful to see many baptized and hear their miraculous testimonies as well as faith in the midst of persecution. I was able to also ask about their thoughts and views on Ethiopia being a refugee-sending nation. We also discussed nonprofit organizations and how they function as well as their impact on the nation. It was a great way to use the trip as way to apply my studies form Georgia State University as well as my internship experience with LSG.

My trip to Ethiopia was memorable. I’m excited that I now can understand my fellow Ethiopian refugees from a deeper perspective. I pray this not be forgotten and that I go back one day and further my knowledge of the wonderful country and people!

Lydia Bassaly Refugee Services 2012 Summer Intern and Georgia State University Student