You park at the bottom, after the dirt road runs out. You pack all of the camera equipment on your back and carefully cross the mountain stream, one slippery rock at a time.
Then you start hiking up.
We stopped to pick Megertu up on the way back to CURE’s hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, after a photo shoot farther north.
We arrived to find a sad, weary, sick girl.
You couldn’t miss the fact that she had clubfoot. The toes of her orange boots pointed inward toward each other. They stood out like a neon sign advertising her disability to the entire mountain.
Megertu lives on a small farm on the hillside with her grandmother. When she was born with a disability, her mother decided she didn’t want her. Other people told the family to kill her. Megertu’s grandmother took her in and raised her as her own.
Most kids are expected to work in the fields with the animals at a young age. If you can’t work in a farming village like this one in Ethiopia, you are viewed as worthless.
Megertu couldn’t work in the fields with the animals. The walking hurt too much. So did the beatings her uncles gave her as punishment for being disabled. Hers was one more mouth to feed, the only one who couldn’t earn her keep. Not only did she have to walk up a literal mountain with the cattle, she had a figurative mountain to climb to find worth and value in the eyes of her family.
It was a slow and treacherous walk to get back to our vehicle. I was wearing quality hiking boots, and I have experience with shoots in remote locations all over the world, but I was struggling. Imagine walking down a mountain like that on the side of your feet in cheap rubber gum boots.
We took Megertu to our hospital in Addis. In the words of the Spiritual Director there, “CURE rescued her.” For the first time in her life, she experienced care and kindness from people other than her grandmother.
Another first? Walking out of the hospital on straight feet.
When Megertu came back to the village after her surgery at CURE, her grandmother couldn’t believe what she saw. She fell to the ground and thanked God.
The Bible says that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains.
I saw an abused little girl’s face go from shamed to smiling.
I saw a miracle walk up a mountain.