This post was written by my friend and fellow global citizen and diversity-lover, Erin Daly. I’m excited to share her story here on the blog.
It was your normal, average summer morning at City Park in Denver. I was scheduled to meet a friend, Ashley, and her daughter, so our girls could play together while we caught up with what was happening in our lives.
It was a quiet morning at the park, so when I noticed two elderly woman walking our way, I couldn’t help but stop and notice them. One of them was had a walking stick—taller than she was, and both were dressed in long linen style skirts. Clearly they were from somewhere else, but where? I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
As they got closer, we exchanged smiles and I immediately noticed them making “goo-goo” eyes at my seven-month-old son. In my typical fashion, I headed towards them. I wanted these two grandmother-like women to get a closer look at my chubby little boy.
One of them spread her arms wide, as if to say, “give him to me!” They didn’t, or couldn’t, speak a word of English. I’d never met them, yet I did what she suggested. I handed over my precious little boy. In that moment, it didn’t matter that I was delivering my child into the arms of a woman I’d never met.
Here I was, building my village. It was what Ashley and I always chatted about—creating a circle of mothers, grandmother’s, teachers, fathers, and neighbors to help raise our children.
Ashley and I did our best to communicate with the two women, it reminded me of my time in the Peace Corps a few years back, when you had to play charades, make crazy hand gestures, and have a genuine guessing game of what the other person is trying to tell you. And of course, those awkward smiles intending to say “yes, I understand you,” when really you are still clueless.
What we were able to gather was that these women were from Addis Ababa, which is in Ethiopia.
When I realized they were Ethiopian, I immediately thought of the delicious food that comes from that region. I put my hands to my mouth and gestured the motion for eating and rubbed my stomach, smiled, and nodded to show that I loved the food, and the traditional bread injera.
They motioned for us to come with them and shortly thereafter; we had packed up our belongings and were following these women out of the park.
I assumed we were going somewhere with Ethiopian food, my friend Ashley thought they wanted to take us to their church to bless my baby and the kids.
As we walked a few blocks, we gave us trying to figure out where they were taking us, and instead looked at each other as if to say, “Who cares?! Let’s go!”
We walked right past a church, our children didn’t get blessed.
We walked down an alley, we were totally safe.
We walked right up to their front door. A young girls bike was laid up against the house. That felt safe. We proceeded.
We sat down in their living room and one of the women brought out a bowl for us to wash our hands.
Then, there we were, two moms, three children, two women from Ethiopia, strangers just moments ago, were now serving up two delicious Ethiopian dishes and a plate of injera.
The one woman never sat to eat. She only made trips back and forth to serve us and prepare coffee for us. The other woman, sat with us and continued to play charades with us and tickle my seven-month-old.
In the midst of it all, it was time for me to nurse, so I began to nurse my son. It felt natural, and not at all awkward. In a friendly gesture, the woman smiled really big and then pulled up her shirt to show me her breast as well. It was a moment of shared motherhood from around the world.
Ashley and I kept making eye contact with each other. We both had a look on our face that said it all. We were so thankful we engaged with these women. We were so happy to be in their home. The food was amazing. What a great experience this was for our kids and us.
We ended our meal with several rounds of coffee, much more than I am used to having, but when in Rome… (or well Ethiopia in the middle of City Park!).
When we were finished, the hostess kindly walked us back to City Park as we said our goodbyes. It was surely an afternoon to remember and one I’ll never forget.
It’s moments like these when we realize that we don’t need to speak the same language, practice the same religion, or even have a reason to invite someone into our home and into our lives.
If you’d like to have your own Ethiopian Adventure, be sure to join us for Global Grubbing: Ethiopia on Sunday, September 27th!