Around the first of the year, I fell in love. He's the most beautiful boy I've ever laid eyes on, and it only took one look from him to steal my heart. His name is Juddah.
He has these huge eyes that just light up whenever he looks at you, and his smile will make your heart flutter every time. Juddah is just here in the USA for a short amount of time but the story of how he got here is amazing.
Juddah's hometown is in Korah, Ethiopia, a city not far outside the capital of Addis Ababa. What makes Korah unique is the fact that it houses the city's landfill. Korah is a city populated by the undesirables of society - widows, orphans, people affected by HIV/AIDS and Leprosy - who make their living by foraging through the trash heap, looking for food.
Baby Juddah was found by Cherrie, a missionary with Project 61, lying on top of urine soaked rags with his twin sister Sarah. The infants felt so cold, Cherrie thought they were both dead, but after some warmth and care from Cherrie and her friend, the twins opened their eyes. It was obvious that something was different about baby Juddah - his head looked too big. It turns out he had a life threatening condition called hydrocephalus, literally, water on the brain.
Juddah was granted a medical visa and a chance at life in the States. This is the first visa of it's kind for someone in Korah in 10 years. The local Carilion Clinic has done surgery on Juddah for free, and he is now resting comfortably at home with Cherrie in Oregon until he is able to return to Ethiopia to live with his mother, grandmother, twin and 5-year old sibling.
During his time locally for surgery, Cherrie lived with a family from our church, and had mentioned that some of the Carilion staff was taking a medical missions trip. While I desperately wanted to go, I'm not medically trained and I don't even like going to the doctor (who does, right?). I didn't think I'd be given access to go. But after talking with Cherrie and attending an informational meeting in May, I was told I would be welcome to come along.
The planning has hit some bumps along the way and our team of 10 or more is now down to 4. I was waiting to fill out my application and arrange to spend more than $3200 in travel expenses until I read Cherrie's blog last night. Only 2 non-medical spots were still available! I grabbed my wallet faster than I ever have before and sent in my non-refundable application fee and arranged to have my references send in papers. All in all a rushed feeling but I woke up this morning feeling very at peace about all of it. I have wanted to go to Africa since I was 12, and I feel like this could be it. God is calling me here for something. Another country, in more poverty and disease than I've ever seen in my life. And all because one little boy looked at me.
All photos courtsey of Cherrie Cornish and her blog.