Karo Kids

Andrew shows some kids the magic zipper

(Andrew) Giggles erupt from the group of 40 Karo children as I bounce a knock-off Super Pinky Ball on the dusty ground. They run after it once it takes an odd bounce off a stone. The kids sprint after it, eager to be the next one to throw it. An older kid of no older than 15 snags it out of the air. Much to my surprise he throws it up at least 50 feet in the air. As it bounces, more giggles are heard from the small children. They reach up to the sky to receive the ball that has bounced once and they all pack together in a tight circle for the chance to be the next recipient. The process repeats.

Reis with his entourage

Our experience at a Karo village in the Omo Valley in Southern Ethiopia was exquisite: not beaten by many of the multitude of cultural experiences we had from 2010-2011. We arrived after a bumpy 2.5-hour car ride and, truthfully, our expectations were pretty low because of our experience the day before with the Dassenech tribe who went up to us continually asking for photos (which lead to the dishing out of Ethiopian Birr). Our 4x4s stopped and we were awestruck by the view. The muddy-brown Omo River dominated the landscape that was seen from atop the steep, sandy hill we stood upon, complemented by a vast, verdant land. It amazed me how abruptly the dry landscape changed to green due to water. We then took a tour of their humble village, trailed by the 40 kids: all trying for a piece of our hands to hold. We got to go inside one of the huts and see how the people live. In the building there were an old woman and man, who communicated to us through our local guide then through our country guide, and a baby. A fire was smoldering and the interior smelled much like smoke. We passed ladies grinding sorghum; a long process where the small pellet seeds were turned into flour used in local beer and bread. Our procession also passed a woman shaving her 2-month-old baby’s head with a razor blade. Our guide Eyob told us that the woman would only use that blade on that one baby as to reduce the chance of HIV spreading.

Teaching Supercali

After the tour of the village, the fun really began. We got to take pictures of the exotically dressed residents and bond with them. The bouncy ball game resumed and the mob of laughing, screaming children re-formed. The best part of this after-tour experience was the resurrection of the White Family Singing Group and our reprisal of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. It took me two rounds of embarrassment and forgetfulness before the motions came rushing back to me. Subsequent to our performance, we began to teach the kids the dance moves. The outcome was funny from the effort the kids put into it, but the quality didn’t matter because we had so much fun.

The last activity in which we participated was the small kids sand-jumping games. As I mentioned before, the village was situated upon a sandy hill and there were mini-sand bluffs off of which the kids leaped, bubbly with excitement. They soared through the sky, their laughter piercing the dusty air, and landed five feet down the hill. As they sprinted back up with vigor, the jumpers urged us to join. Reis and I gave it a shot and enjoyed it greatly. I’m sure the memory of this Karo village will live with me for the rest of my life.

Sand jumping









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