The Elephant Cloud


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Returning to African soil- Addis Ababa, old friends and roosters

January 15th, 2011 by · 9 Comments · Africa, Ethiopia

Windows down, hot air plastering dust over smiles, the traffic is chaos with horns blaring as we pull into the city of Addis Ababa. We have returned to Ethiopia. Danny, our taxi driver, shouts over the mix of local hip-hop and Michael Jackson, inviting us to a bunna bet or coffee ceremony at his sisters café.

Soaking in the bustle of morning, a chaotic paradise surrounded by mountains and high risers. Goats awaiting fate with their brethren chickens anchored by the side of the road. Christian and Muslim families alike make their way through the city. So begins our journey.

Stumbling over broken Amharic, laughter erupts from all sides as we try to assimilate our ferengi smiles into warm and welcoming crowds. The faces seem familiar as we return to our old hotel.

Last night in Addis, dinner was shared with old and new friends from Gimbi. Jay was excited to hear about the Street Boys he spent so much time with. The Podoconiosis project he filmed lives on and many of the first patients now have normal size legs, ankles and feet.  We spent hours talking about medicine, Africa, the pros and cons of humanitarian efforts and the realities of poverty. I am exhilarated to be back, where my passion for medicine and Africa fuse, this is where I belong.

The roosters have been crowing, waking before the sun, bringing the city slowly to life. Our Ethiopian coffee sludge awaits, I must remember to ask for bunna weuteut, coffee with milk.

Nine months ago we left Gimbi Hospital in Western Ethiopia with a desire to return and further our volunteer efforts. Since then we have joined forces with Joni Kabana and Dr. Philippa Ribbink in FootSteps to Healing. Our purpose is multiple, including volunteering for four weeks in Northern Ethiopia with the Mota Governmental Hospital teaching Emergency Obstetrical Services to local doctors, health officers and mid wives. Jay and Joni area heading south to the Omo Valley to document the tribal medical facilities and services, as well working on a film project for Merci Corps.

We are thankful to everyone who has donated to FootSteps to Healing, Darcelle’s raised over $5000 and combined with other efforts we now have over $ 11,000, nearing our goal.


  • January 26th, 2011 by Heather Denison

    Thank you! I will make a donation today!

  • January 24th, 2011 by Karly aka Sista

    Hey sister & Jay
    So good to hear that you both made it there safely and on time (don’t worry I won’t tell any one…lol) I will be following you both on this website and am excited to hear the new stories!!!!! Thanks for being such an amazing sister and person!!! You too Jay… Your also amazing (just not a sister…lol)

  • January 23rd, 2011 by mom

    Darlene and Jay. Stay safe and have fun taking in all the excitment and adventure you are and will have. God Bless you both.

  • January 16th, 2011 by Darlene Nastansky

    Thank you for your message, broken links are no good. I fixed it this am.
    It has been very heartwarming and supportive to read everyone’s comments. Thank you!

    We appreciate every donation people are able to give.
    Once you land on FootSteps to Healing, a new window to Global Soul International opens up. Click on the Projects link, you will be directed to a list of supporting projects.
    Footsteps to Healing – Mota, Ethiopia
    Project Lead: Joni Kabana
    This appears first and is our project. You can then donate from there. Please specify Mota, Ethiopia and add any name you would like to donate in the name of.

    Again, we are so very lucky to have such a supportive community.
    Darlene and Jay

  • January 16th, 2011 by Heather Denison

    Hi Darlene! I am excited to read about more of your adventures! I was unable to attend your benefit event in Portland for FootSteps for Healing (and the link on this blog posting did not link up properly). I would like to donate some $ in your name. Is there a specific way to do this? Safe travels ~

  • January 16th, 2011 by Michael Van Kleeck

    So glad to hear you’re safely in Ethiopia. Have a great trip, my friends. You make the world a better place!

  • January 16th, 2011 by Janelle

    What an amazing thing you guys are doing, cant wait to read more about your adventures, your descriptions make me feel like I am right there too. Just watched a show on OPB about Africa and volunteers. stay safe and have fun.

  • January 16th, 2011 by devora

    safe and good travels to you both! love the posts! will follow you in heart and mind!

  • January 16th, 2011 by Carey

    I just sent that facebook message before I saw this.
    I look forward to more stories and videos. I wish I was there!
    Love to all!

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