One week ago today, the sun rose over Korah, revealing utter tragedy.
A landslide of trash, had swallowed a large portion of the community, burying hundreds alive.
Everyone in this community directly or indirectly benefitted from this trash dump. They either ate from it, or they collected recyclables to sell in order to survive.
The trash that once kept them alive, became the reason they died.
As you can see in the picture above, the dump is large…. it’s about the same size as the village or Korah.
The air is filled with the cries of those who are hurting. The “mourning tents” have been flooded with people holding framed pictures of their loved ones who are still missing. The entire community has candles lit in front of their doors to honor and remember those who have lost their lives. Thousands and thousands of candles are lit. It was described like this: “It looks like a Christmas city all lit up. Today everybody was also wearing a black shirt that said “rest in peace, we’re mourning for you.””
This picture reminds me of my favorite verse:
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)
Henok shared, “I think people in Korah are feeling loved. Every famous person in Ethiopia has come and sobbed with our community. Famous talk show hosts, actors, athletes…. A lot of love is being poured out in mourning. The 3-day mourning that the parliament implemented was good. Korah has been feeling neglected for decades… but I think these days, people in Korah feel loved.”
He went on….
“I saw something today I have never seen before in Ethiopia. It was right outside of our Carry 117 compound. There were about 10 police. And there are a whole group of kids from the neighborhood who play right outside the Carry 117 compound. I looked over, and one of the kids was on the shoulder of the police, and another kid was kissing a police. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
When I asked how he is processing what’s going on, this is how he described it:
“When you are on the ground…..it’s different. You don’t get to sit down and process it. It’s constant. Every day you hear a new name and story of someone who died. It’s like you are in constant shock.”
“One of the stories that has hit me the hardest was this man who was sharing how he had lost all seven of his children and his wife to the trash. He was in agony sharing it. And then he said,
“I don’t know if they’re dead…. or I am.””
I literally had no words to speak. I had to just let those words sink in.
Maybe you are feeling the same thing….
…Henok continue to share what was on his heart…..
“When someone you love suddenly dies, the first week isn’t what is most difficult. It’s most difficult when you are adjusting to the new normal. After a week… not that it will be forgotten….but, you have to choose to start living again. That’s the most difficult thing.”
He knows how it feels to suddenly lose someone you love to something that could have been prevented. Three and a half years ago, his girlfriend suddenly passed away from meningitis. They had been treating her for the wrong sickness, and by the time they figured it out it was too late. He was devastated to say the least.
“I remember it was hard for me when Lwam died… I just cried and was in shock for the whole first week. I wanted to quit my job…. Everything reminded me of her and I just didn’t’ know what to do with what I was feeling. I didn’t know how to fit in my new normal,” he said.
“I remember one of the main reasons I got through the grief was because of the people who loved on me and were next to me.”
This is what keeps him going in a time like this. He wants to love this community and help them through their pain, and he is leading an entire team of people to do this very thing.
So….a week later…. this is what we pray….Not for anyone to forget…. but…
….for the people of Korah to choose to start living again.