If you pass through Catherine Hamlin’s ambit long enough for her to notice you, there is a good chance that she will invite you to tea. Her concern for the welfare of others is such that—even if she is inordinately busy herself—she will take the time to insure that you are all right, to make sure that you are “being seen to,” and to assure herself that you are being treated as hospitably as possible. If she invites you to tea, take her up on the invitation!
Catherine still lives in a humble cottage down the hill at the back of the hospital. The bulk of her life in Ethiopia has been spent here, in a few small rooms, simply furnished, but bursting with hospitality. And what a view!
To get to Catherine’s cottage you must walk across the hospital grounds and down a rather steep hill that leads to a secluded metal gate. Beyond the gate, a series of stone steps lead downwards through lush tropical gardens to her cottage, which overlooks the small river running behind the hospital.
From her veranda you can see flocks of sacred ibis coming to rest in the trees and the shore of the small lake adjoining the river.
Tea is dispensed in traditional British style, complete with strawberry cakes, ginger biscuits, lemon cake, and whatever other lovely confection has been prepared for the afternoon. There on the veranda Catherine will inquire about your family, your health, and the events of the day, totally unpretentiously, totally focused on you—her guest—and your welfare. The conversation wanders where it will as the tropical sun starts to set. Before too long it is time to say goodbye and to walk back up the hill to deal with whatever evening plans have been made. But you go refreshed, rejuvenated, and rather humbled at the attention that has been lavished upon you by a remarkable woman whose life is totally devoted to the welfare of others.
Tea with Dr. Hamlin is a therapeutic experience! Take what the doctor prescribes!