Veggie Recipe

One of my favorite recipes to make is a type of cooked vegetables that I’ve seen called by several names; atakilt alicha, ye’atakilt wot.  Here is how you make it.

1/2 cup Olive Oil

4 Carrots

1 onion, thin sliced

1 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. ground tumeric

1/2 head cabbage, shredded

5 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes


Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook carrots and onion in hot oil about 5 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper, cumin, tumeric and cabbage, cook another 15 -20 minutes, ( I cover it with a lid to keep it the moisture in). Add the potatoes, cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until potatoes are soft, 20-30 minutes.

Serve with Injera and enjoy!



Bid on a trip to Ethiopia

Only two more weeks to get your proxy bid in for the Lights of Hope Auction item…. TWO Round trip tickets to Ethiopia on Ethiopian Airlines and a week all inclusive stay at Ethiopia Guest House. For more info on item click here

People often say that to fully understand a culture you should fully immerse yourself in it.  That definitely stuck in my mind when we decided to stay in Addis Ababa for an extended period during our adoption process.  Before leaving the U.S., I wondered what it was going to be like, how we were getting around, how tough the language barrier would be and how, we, as Americans adopting an Ethiopian child, would be received.  The planning and the paperwork of our adoption process, culminated into a crescendo of emotion in one singular event.  I distinctly remember my thoughts on the first morning we woke up in Addis.  The two days prior, we were travelling and it was definitely a blur of eating, watching movies, half sleeping, and reading.  I think I read the description of our Ethiopian Airlines plane like fifty times (I highly recommend Ethiopian Airlines, by the way).  We had heard many descriptions of Ethiopia from friends and fellow adoptive parents who blazed the trail before us and mixed those descriptions with travel books and countless blogs.  I remember opening my eyes that morning to the slight glow of the digital clock, and heard rain hit the roof of our guest house along with other countless tin roofs around us like a natural steel drum band.  In between beats, we could hear the slight drone of morning prayers, the crow of a local rooster and the sounds of dogs playing.  The smells were unfamiliar and I was in a kind of shock.  I thought to myself, “man, everything I’ve read, the pictures I’ve seen, and the stories I’ve heard did not prepare me for this moment”.  It was a cyclone of excitement, tiredness, newness, fear and uncertainty all rolled into a Wizard of Oz-like twister that swallowed me up and dropped me off in some foreign land.  I didn’t know what to expect.  Before I opened the door to go downstairs for breakfast, I stopped and sighed and said to myself, “Here we go…”  Breakfast was fine, talking with other families and discussing the exciting events from the day before.  The emotional high of getting into town, the emotional peak of meeting our child for the first time, and the anxious anticipation about what the new day held for us.

The next few days were a whirlwind.  After court, we travelled north to the beautiful town of Lalibela to tour the spectacular rock-hewn churches.  I was in my personal photographer’s heaven.  The churches were amazing, but my favorite memory was an electricity-free moonlit night.  There was a major power line miles away that was taken out by a truck, so the small town was without electricity for almost 24 hours.  My wife and I decided to walk the main road that night.  A lot of the townspeople were out walking as well, our collective paths lit by the full moon.  It was weird because I’m so used to street lamps competing with the moon for light, and I couldn’t believe how bright the moon was that night.  I felt like I walked into a scene from the past, and thought about how the town must have been years ago before electricity.  We walked down the street and exchanged greetings with local people as we passed.  I felt so at home that night and that feeling was constant throughout our time in Ethiopia.

When we returned to Addis and settled in at Ethiopia Guest Home, our home for the foreseeable future, I couldn’t wait to see more of the town.  We weren’t in a secluded resort area of town solely meant for tourists; we were in a neighborhood surrounded by Ethiopians going about their daily lives.  We were immersed in Ethiopian life and walked around, mingling with local people.  As we became acquainted with our surroundings, I remember waking up each day excited.  Almost instantly, we became friends with the staff at the home and we now consider them are our extended Ethiopian family.  I can honestly say that the staff was a big blessing to us and our child during our 10 weeks at Ethiopian Guest Home.  The time we spent in Ethiopia is indescribable.  People were so gracious and hospitable to us.  The end to our time in Ethiopia came kind of suddenly when we received one day’s notice of our visa interview appointment.  It was a sad moment when I realized that we were really leaving.  Sure, we were excited to start our lives back home with our son, but I knew that leaving Ethiopia was going to leave a hole in my heart.  There were many adventures and many crescendos.  Several people have asked if we would do it again and I always emphatically say “Yes!”

Ethiopia isn’t a place you can really describe with pictures and words.  It is a place you have to feel for yourself, a place that you have to smell and hear and feel upon your skin.  To get a full sense of what the country is about, you have to talk with the people, hear their stories and laughter and experience their hospitality.

I’m excited about the trip to Ethiopia that Ethiopian Orphan Relief is auctioning off in May because, if I am the winning bidder, I will be able to temporarily fill the Ethiopia-shaped hole in my heart.  The trip includes roundtrip airfare from Washington D.C. to Addis via Ethiopian Airlines and a one-week stay in the nicest suite available at Ethiopia Guest Home.  For complete details, airline blackout dates, etc., see the original post.  If you aren’t attending the auction but want to place a proxy bid on the trip, please contact Kim  at

Michael Keo

In Ethiopian News Today: Will Haile Gebrselassie miss the Olympics this year?

It doesn’t seem like the Olympic games are upon us … at least not to me.  But apparently, the 2012 Summer Games are upon us!  Of course, with our love for everything Ethiopian, we always root for the Ethiopian distance runners — particularly, the famed Haile Gebrselassie.  But in the news today, I read that Gebrselassie may not qualify for the event this year.
At 39 years old, the distance-running legend finished fourth this Sunday in a qualifying race in Tokyo last weekend, meaning that his chance to qualify for the Ethiopian team is in jeopardy.  As disappointing as that must be for him, and for his fans, I’m sure I speak for fans around the world when I say we will always consider him one of Ethiopia’s — and the world’s — greatest athletes! 2012 Olympics or not!

Amharic classes in Ohio

Fellow board member Amy Harcar and I spent hours and hours this summer working through Amharic Level 1.  At the end of 10 weeks, I am fairly familiar with the alphabet (all 230+ fidel), have expanded my vocabulary,  can greet and express affection, and most important of all, have a clearer understanding of the pronunciation of Amharic words written in English.

The next Level 1 Amaharic class begins on October 1 (through December 3) 12-3 pm, at 1060 Mt. Vernon Ave.  Check the flyer for all the details!

If you live in the greater Columbus area, please try to squish this amazing class into your schedule!


Amharic flyer 7 20

Enkutatash 2004~~Melkam Addis Amet!

Ethiopia’s New Year’s Day (or Enkutatash) is celebrated in September towards the end of the big rains. Unlike the 1 January date, which is comparatively arbitrary, New Year’s Day in Ethiopia marks a new season and a new beginning.

The grass is green, the sun has come out, and there is fresh food to be harvested. Apart from the cyclical explanation for the timing of Ethiopian New Year, there is also a legend which maintains that Enkutatash is celebrated to commemorate the return of Queen Sheba from Jerusalem.
Presently in Addis Ababa, New Year’s Eve is spent feasting and partying. On New Year’s Day, the house is decorated with pretty little yellow Meskal daisies. Children make gifts of colorful paintings or spring flowers to give to their family and friends. Girls, dressed in their new Ethiopian dresses and armed with a kabero (small drum), go from house to house singing a special Enkutatash song, in return for some money. The main religious celebration takes place in the 14th-century Kostete Yohannes church in the town of Gaynt, in the Gondar region. Three days of prayers, psalms, hymns and sermons, and huge colourful processions mark the advent of the New Year. Closer to Addis Ababa, the Raguel Church, on top of the Entoto Mountain north of the city, has the largest and most spectacular religious celebration.

In the United States, Enkutatash is typically celebrated on or around September 11th.  Public celebrations of Enkutatash often occur on the weekend before or immediately after the ‘official’ holiday.  This year, in consideration of the bigger 9/11 commemorations as well as the Ohio State Football schedule, the Columbus Ohio celebration will be held on September 18th, from 10-6.

Each year,  as the workload for the Enkutatash celebration increases, I think, “This will be the last year I help to plan.  Next year, I’ll attend as a guest.” This notion is quickly shunted aside, but I’d be lying if I didn’t think it would be nice to spend summer doing a little less.

BUT, then I go to the Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services office for an Enkutatash meeting with my Ethiopian daughter by my side.  In an instant she is surrounded by a half dozen Ethiopian adults she has known for the last 3+ years.  By the end of an hour, she’s spent time chatting with another half dozen Ethiopian adults, all eager to bestow kisses and greetings.  This link to the Ethiopian community means more to me than any summer afternoon spent at the zoo,  or picnic in the park.

My daughter will grow up with Ethiopian friends to play with, she’ll know families that look remarkably like ours, but she also have adoring Ethiopian adults in her life, and Ethiopian friends who grow up in families who look little like ours.

And so, despite the large part of my grey matter that yells, “too much” when I add another commitment to my schedule, I will continue, whole-heartedly to plunge in to the Ethiopian community whenever I am asked.  These relationships, like the Queen of Sheba’s jewels, are priceless indeed.


Melkam Addis Amet!


Packing tips

In a few short months Ethiopian Orphan Relief will be heading back to Ethiopia to check on our projects and meet with our partner organizations and talk about future needs.

As you can imagine we will have several suitcases filled with donations for the kids in Ethiopia. Last time we traveled it was quite the scene at the Portland airport as Lauren (partner & project chair)  and I (okay I’ll admit it, it was me)  checked into the airline ticket counter to the horror that my bags were WAY over the weight limit. I had tried so diligently to stay within that 50 pound mark but it became obvious that the hand held scale I was using to weigh my bags was defunct.

Luckily Lauren’s bags had weight to spare so we hastily moved blood pressure cuffs, medical equipment and the 6 pounds of dum dum suckers into her suitcase.

Today while having a trip planning meeting Lauren asked me if I had on my to do list to buy a new luggage scale. Her actual words were “Pasion, you better get it right this time.”

So I come to you our friends….please share your favorite packing tips with me…as clearly I need all the packing help I can get.


p.s. please don’t say “don’t bring the 6 pounds of dum dum suckers.” The kids loved them and Lauren did too.

Ode to the Donkey

I have mentioned numerous times how I miss the donkeys in Ethiopia. I have joked with my husband that we really should get one. Then I read an article from the Equine Chronicle about the importance of donkeys in Ethiopia.

Why are they so important?

The article states, “…at least 40% of households surveyed said donkeys helped reduce women’s work while all communities said equine animals were economically important for rural and urban communities for all wealth groups”.

Read more of the article here:



So the 3rd anniversary of my son’s adoption from Ethiopia came and went.  Of course, this was a day of mixed emotions for me.  There was the joy of celebrating my blessed family.  There was the nostalgia I feel for Ethiopia (has it really been three years?).  And then there was the grief and sadness I feel for the family and culture Eli left behind that day.

That day when we took him away from the country in which he was born.  The land in which he and would’ve otherwise grown and thrived (and I know he would’ve grown and thrived.  He’s the strongest person I know).  And the day that, even though he had been in an orphanage for several months prior to us meeting him, he would never have the chance to go back to his birth family.

As much as I love him and am selfishly so incredibly over-the-moon happy to have him, I’m truly sad that he isn’t getting to grow up in his homeland.  I’m devastated that he won’t grow up experiencing his birth culture on a first-hand basis.

And I feel extremely guilty that I am getting to spend my life with him — and his birth family is not.  I get to watch him grow and thrive and learn.  I get to tuck him into bed and make him the perfect PB&J sandwiches and push him on the swings and have dance parties with him.  And his birth family does not.

Why me?  Why do I get to raise him and not his birth family?  In truth, it’s just not fair.  Life just does not always seem fair.

I wonder if there will ever be a time when Eli resents me for taking him out of his country and culture.  I can imagine this day will one day be particularly difficult for him.  I wonder how long it will be now.

But on this past adoption anniversary, Eli was nothing but happy, happy, happy.  He truly had a great day.  He seemed to understand, as much as a three-and-a-half year old possibly could, that this was the anniversary of his adoption.  That three years ago, mommy and daddy met him in Ethiopia.

To honor him, we had some of our best Ethiopian buds (the fabulous Amy and Paige and their families) over for a cookout and some slip-n-slide.  And then, later in the afternoon, we took him to the neighborhood pool.  Eli never stopped smiling the whole day.

As I carried him up to bed, happy and exhausted that evening, he rested his curly head on my shoulder and said, “Thank you, mommy, for remembering Eli Day.  I love you forever and ever.”

Wow.  What my three-year-old was telling me was that he was thankful on this day.  And that’s how I should handle my emotions as well.  By being thankful for the blessed opportunity to raise him … thankful for the opportunity to bring HIS culture into MY life … and thankful to his birth family and their sacrifices.


My Heart is in Ethiopia

Life has a funny way of unfolding sometimes.  Over the course of my life, I have come to believe that some things happen for a reason.


I remember the first Christmas after we came home with our son from Ethiopia like it was yesterday.  We were living outside of Washington, D.C. at the time, getting ready to move to Ohio where we didn’t know many people.  What a year it had been; and in the whirlwind of packing, gifting and saying good-byes, I was on a mission to make all of my Christmas gifts to family members significant to Ethiopia.


Specifically, I wanted to purchase gifts for others where the proceeds would benefit Ethiopian children.  I researched online, and found that a non-profit called Ethiopian Orphan Relief had a little online shop with Ethiopian jewelry and scarves.  All of the proceeds went to help Ethiopian orphaned children.


I bought my sister-in-law a necklace and found a necklace that I LOVED for my husband – and myself.  It read, “My Heart Is in Ethiopia.”  But at the online check out I found there was only one in stock.  Bummer.  I bought it for my husband, who loved it.


I checked back every so often to see if it had been restocked, but to no avail.  And as I became more familiar with Ethiopian Orphan Relief’s Web site, I thought over and over to myself, “I wish I could be a part of an organization like this someday.”


A couple of months later, we had moved to Ohio (where I still knew next to no one) and found myself sitting at Paige’s dining room table.  I had just met her after hearing about a local group of families and volunteers planning Columbus’ upcoming Enkutatash celebration.  As Paige talked about Enkutatash, she frequently referred to things she had done for “EOR.”  Confused about the acronym and a little bit shy, I sat quiet for a while.  Then, finally, I interrupted.


“Excuse me, but what is EOR?”


“Ethiopian Orphan Relief,” she answered.   She said a few more things about how she and a group of other adoptive moms had started EOR, but I didn’t really hear her because of the loud “CLICK” that had just gone off in my head.


“You mean, the non-profit that sells that necklace that reads, “My Heart Is in Ethiopia?”  I asked, sounding ridiculous (because yes, I knew EOR did more than sell necklaces.  But I was just putting pieces together and absorbing this new information).


“Yup!”  Paige said cheerfully, and continued on with whatever she was talking about.  I couldn’t focus on what she was saying though because I was kind of in awe of Paige’s awesomeness and surprised by the connection I had just made.  Paige, who stood before me, had helped start that great non-profit I had bought our Christmas gifts from?  WOW, the world is small!  Once again, I secretly hoped I could one day get involved with an organization like EOR.


And overtime, I did.  As I became closer friends with Paige (and the group of wonderful women who have become our “Tribe” in Ohio), I began helping Paige out with EOR projects in small ways when and where she asked.  I was honored when she asked me to help her plan the Dead of Winter Bash (held last month).  And when she asked me to be a board member, I could barely hear what she was saying because of the loud “CLICK” that once again went off in my head.


Things do happen for a reason, and life really does have a funny way of unfolding.  I was reminded of this again as I perused the items to bid on at the Dead of Winter Bash – and came across a necklace similar to the one I I had bought for my husband on our first Christmas home from Ethiopia.


So now I have finally one too, to (almost) match the necklace I bought my husband a few years ago.  And though it means something very different today than it did back then, our hearts really are in Ethiopia.