Something happened this week that I think is unique and special... in fact, many wonderful events occur in the office in Maplewood every day because the office is busy and productive and we are all watching boys and girls around the world grow up.
Let me share this story about a sweet moment.
I was talking to Jen Bass, my communications manager, at her desk and I kept hearing someone talking in a high-pitched tone with a lot of laughter. I looked around and couldn't figure out where that voice was coming from so I just focused on my chat with Jen. Then I turned my head again and saw our program manager, Eleanor Hartzell, in the conference room with her iPhone close to her face and she was smiling and chatting. I wondered what was going on, but returned to my work with Jen.
Then suddenly Eleanor was approaching me and she said, "Do you want to talk to Teddy?" I didn't get it for a second and then saw him moving in real-time on the screen. Tedros is a 17 year-old boy living in Des's Village in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I've known Teddy a long time... I have watched him grow up. My sons and Board Member Lori Finkel's son, Jed, were crazy about Teddy when we were at Camp Addis in the summer of 2010.
Eleanor was on FaceTime talking to all the kids to whom she is so devoted in Des's Village. She gave me a gift... she gave me Teddy on FaceTime. It was as if he was in the room. Teddy and I spoke for a few minutes. I told him that I would see him soon at the end of July when I visit WWO Ethiopia. I blew him a kiss and he blew one back to me. I didn't want to let go.
It is obvious that technology does a lot of good. We email and make calls to far off places all the time. It is nothing to us. I don't stop and think about how much I love Skype, Google Hangout, and gotomypc.com. I text in Haiti and handle a lot of challenging issues without a thought. My children text me many times a day to inform me of their whereabouts and my blood pressure stays normal and I breathe easy. When I travel and make short calls and texts with my sons and friends, the days on the road disappear swiftly. Skyping with our Country Directors in each country has made our work much more effective.
This was different. For so many years, I yearned and longed to see and hear the kids from Des's Village. I don't spend weeks working there like some on our staff do. I fly in, have my time with the kids, and then return home, missing them very much. This time, I really felt that Teddy was part of my life and all of our lives. Teddy is very important to Eleanor... and Teddy loves her. The kids at Des's Village love the program managers who visit WWO Ethiopia. And the volunteers, orphan rangers, and board members and their children who visit are in a love fest with the "39" (39 children in Des's Village). Sarah Poole is a long-time volunteer who is in Addis now for a third stint with Des's Village; she is there with her infant son. She and her husband climbed Kilimanjaro and raised money for WWO and she lived and worked at Des's Village for 6 months. We at WWO should be proud of the intimate and warm loving devotion that we are able to show the children we serve... so very far away.
Blowing kisses on FaceTime is something I want to do more...
I sit here and wonder how we can do more for them.
Dr. Jane Aronson
Founder and CEO, Worldwide Orphans