I'm back! And alive!
Sorry it has taken me a while to write this blog. Not much has been happening here- but anytime I think to check in with you all, the power is out and my computer is invariably out of battery. So, point 1- the power goes out here at least once a day. Today it was only for about an hour and a half- quite refreshing, really.
I've been settling into my placement for the last couple of weeks- the girls are (mostly) so lovely- and in need of a lot of love and affection. I teach them english, but mainly play games with them- skipping rope, bouncy balls, dancing to lady gaga and letting them braid my hair. That is something I've noticed here- no, not the braided hair- although I've noticed that too....- it is how much love everyone has and is willing to share. I find myself saying 'I love you' at least 10 times a day- to my host family, to the girls... at first it was quite odd- in Australia people don't tend to give out their love so readily. But I've come to accept and embrace this cultural difference- what's
wrong with telling someone you love them? As a fellow human being, what else are we meant to do? Also kisses- when you say hello, goodbye, or anytime one of the girls comes up to me. It's the same with the volunteers and my host family. I think it's lovely- and my inner hippie requires me to now say, to all of you, I love you! :-)
Last weekend some of the volunteers organised a trip to Awassa- a couple of hours drive south of Addis. We stayed at totally budget accommodation, complete with agro monkeys (one that tried to attack me affectionately nicknamed blue balls- reference photo) and dripping showers. To be honest, I'm not exactly sure why they chose Awassa- there wasn't much there... Also the dynamics within the group are interesting... That is all that will be said on that topic. To get back to Addis we took a public bus to Shashamene- home of Ras Tafarian (if you don't know the history, check it out- it all started in ethiopia!), and home town of all things Bob Marley (except Bob Marley. AWkward.) The public bus itself was an interesting experience. Before we left there was
a man who got on and shouted a few things at us (which I translated for the volunteers to be 'keep your arms and legs within the carriage at all times'...). When he got off he started waving a Bible around. I'm pretty sure I got the translation spot on... haha
The rest of the trip home, including our stop in Shashamene were eventful- and not in a lovely way. It is here that I will stop the story- I think I have contributed to my mother's grey hair enough without her needing to know what happened! All that needs to be noted is that I am home, and in one piece :-)
This week I was back at work. Yesterday we threw a going away party for Destiny, the other full time volunteer at OPRIFS Meganagne, who was here for 6 weeks from Holland. She was a really good friend- helped introduce me to Ethiopian life. She will be missed by everyone. I didn't cry- very controlled indeed! But, while Destiny was still inside saying goodbye to the staff, everything went quiet outside (rare for a place that houses 21 very spirited girls!). I walked out to
see what was going on. The girls had lined the way to the gate , all quietly crying, waiting to say their final goodbye to Destiny. If that doesn't pull on your heart strings, nothing will!
Since I arrived, I've been trying to find ways to use the funds I raised before I arrived here. I would love to use it to help the OPRIFS girls, but to be honest, they have everything. They have toys, clothes, shoes, backpacks, food etc. It's fantastic for OPRIFS and the girls they help- but for people like me who want to come and want to feel useful, it's not so fantastic. I spoke to someone about this, and they are going to try to help me find people to help. On Sunday I'm heading to the Military hospital to meet a girl and her son, who have absolutely nothing. I've decided one way I could use the money is to visit people like this and give them 'care packages'. For her, I've put together a small bag with a ball, socks, juice, biscuits and lollies. I'm not too keen to give cash, because no one can guarantee it will be spent in
the right way. There will hopefully be other opportunities for me to visit public hospitals- apparently they allow the patients with no family or friends to have guests. I'm hoping to go and meet some of these people- the ones in the worst situations- and possibly pay for things such as their medicine, food, and other necessities they lack. I will let you know as I find more ways to use the money.
Speaking of money- I went shopping with Mary today to buy ingredients for honey crackles. It took a bit of searching, and they turned out a bit abstract, but I think they were ok! Then Mary remembered that on Friday their religion doesn't allow them to eat dairy (christian orthodox) so, unfortunately, I have been left with the task to eat them. A shame, really... Hehe Anyhow, while we were out we did a bit of window shopping. They actually have some pretty cool clothes and accessories here! A real leather bag, decent size (i.e. one that would be good for uni) is approx $55!! and a leather jacket, about $80. OK, it's not italian leather... but it looks, feels and (most importantly) smells like real
leather. It's 100% real- 100% ethiopian. I've booked flights to Qatar for a week over christmas to spend it with my Aunty, Uncle and cousins- I had planned to save up to have a massive shopping spree there (as usual... haha) but turns out I might be able to do quite well here! Yay! I found a really nice summer dress today- made out of the traditional ethiopian fabric (see my previous entry for pictures of ladies at the wedding ceremony- that's the fabric I'm talking about). Too bad it was too small- but tomorrow evening I'm heading out with Mary and my host mum to possibly get one custom made. This will be after my Sheraton full body massage and exfoliation in the morning, and the afternoon by the pool reading Cutting For Stone with cocktail in hand.
Well, that's how I plan on spending my hectic weekend haha it will be tough... but someone's got to do it!
As wonderful as this weekend will be, I'm missing home life very much- and home food- and missing all of my friends. Hopefully I'll get into the Addis swing of things within the next week (by the way,
about the title- Habesha is the word for Ethiopian people- it's what to shout back when people in the street shout at me 'Farenge'- foreigner).
Love to all- tell someone today that you love them :-)
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