Do you know about the Free Hugs Campaign? If not, go to their website first and then come back here to read this entry. I'd post a link, but at 31.2 kbps I just don't want to try anything fancy. Just Google it, watch a few clips and read the backstory, and then come back.
My friend, Ibtisam Barakat, sent me a video link of Free Hugs before I left for Africa (thank you, Ibtisam!) and I knew right away we had to do this here. Today was the day. I made a "Free Hugs" sign on the inside of a manila folder, and got one of the volunteers who is learning Amharic to write it under the English, and I drew an Ethiopian flag in the middle. We got to Layla House at around 1:00 p.m., and wandered down to the courtyard for the older kids. One of the teachers, Abiya, a really good looking young guy in sunglasses and an "Africa Youth" t-shirt was there, and we handed him the sign and started about three different video cameras running. Kids started coming up to read the sign, first in Amharic, then in English, and then -- bam! Let the hugging begin! More and more kids began appearing from all the rooms around the courtyard, and some of them started drumming and singing, and we had about 40 minutes of hugging, cheering, singing, clapping, fighting to take a turn holding the sign -- awesome. When we get back home we'll try to edit it down into a really usable three or four minute montage, hopefully with one of their songs running in the background. One love.
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