Published: August 7th 2008August 7th 2008
Driving on the bus to work
Don't believe the smile:)...I am still not a morning person
The worst thing about Ethiopia and working in Kebribeyah are the fleas…they are everywhere and we brought them home so last night they kept me up half the night. Ugh! The other annoying issue is the lack of a consistent supply of water. Other than that, this is such a beautiful country and this area is so different than the north. The people are so not interested in foreigners here. Yes, people call out our names and a few kids follow you in the market but nothing compared to the northern area. The Somali people are much more verbal…I consider them the Italians of Africa as they always seem to be yelling or fighting with one another. Sometimes these reactions end in smiling and joking but in the market I have seen people almost come to blows and it doesn’t matter which gender. I think most of these very large fights are between Ethiopians (highlanders) and Somalis…or at least that is what people keep telling me. I love listening to the language, such a cacophony of guttural and expressive words. I am hoping to pick up some of the basics.
The refugees live a life of desperation often asking us
Photo of our transport
Our bus resting at the camp
for help with rations and water. Also, there is always someone to add to their ration card or an additional family member appearing in the camp. When we talked with the MSF team that were kicked out of Fik by the difficulty with the government (often being detained) they mentioned that a lot of Ethiopians/Ethiopian Somalis were fleeing this area due to the conflict between the OLF and others. So there are a lot of IDP (internally displaced people) accessing the camps, which is what they are there for except the people are claiming to be Somalis. I am not sure why. People have to be careful what they say about the conflict and whom they say it to. Ethiopia is famous for not admitting anything…diseases don’t exist and there is no fighting in this or that region.. etc. Denial (De Nile) is not just a river in Egypt or Ethiopia!
Yet somehow the refugees find a way to enjoy themselves especially the children. They laugh, smile and create games and toys. They also walk long distances to school, and care for their younger siblings, cook, clean, particularly the girls. Life is not equal or fair…and many of the
Me at my new office
Just a little different from Catholic Charities:)
girls start way behind others. I have found a few refugees who speak English (boys of course or maybe the girls are just too shy) which is interesting. The clothing is interesting as the Somalis love to layer fabric and all the fabric is so beautiful and colorful. It is also light, rayon (or something synthetic - made in China particularly for this market) but flows comfortably. The interesting thing about the camp is the consistently cold wind blowing and how very cold it is in the morning. While surprising our first day, now we realize it is a relief as we are working in tin sheds and they would absorb the heat. Actually, it is quite pleasant in the afternoons during the hottest part of the day.
(Post script: The fleas were solved by UNHCR putting cement in each room which requires watering so the water problem was also solved. Happily, the refugees have access to the water every day now. We also seem to be immune to the fleas at this stage.)
There are more photos below