Blogs from Jimma, Oromia Region, Ethiopia, Africa


Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Jimma June 27th 2012

My last days in Ethiopia were unforgettable, and I’m not exaggerating. We wrapped up the course with student presentations of their final qualitative projects. They were well done overall and very creative—one group is interviewing street youth, another asking people why they prefer injections over oral meds, another asking health workers about media campaigns concerning female genital mutilation. It made me proud to watch my students talk confidently about qualitative methods and analysis and to critique each other. Thursday evening I was ushered to the faculty lounge, where they had created a “program” for me, which was really a going away party. My co-instructor and the department head gave speeches, a couple of students gave their thoughts on the course and the collaboration with CDC and JHU, and I got up and thanked all of them ... read more
group photo of (most) of the students from my class
outside Jimma University

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Jimma June 20th 2012

As predicted, I picked up a little intestinal bacteria. Every time I was served food on a dish that was not completely dried, or had water from the shower splash in my mouth, or watched the kitchen staff prepare my food when I know toilet paper is hard to come by, I was wondering if this would be the incident to do me in. The stomach cramps were pretty bad, and of course there was diarrhea and complete loss of appetite. I laid in bed for the afternoon on Monday, and that evening one of my students came over to take care of me once he heard that I was down and out. Totally unnecessary, but incredibly sweet. He fed me chicken soup and plain spaghetti and made oral rehydration solution. While he did that, Tesfaye ... read more

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Jimma June 17th 2012

It definitely takes a couple of weeks of spending time in a new place before you start to recognize patterns in people’s behaviors and interactions. For instance, just yesterday I realized that the reason why people say “Fine!” to me is because they are asking, “Are you fine?” And now that I have been here long enough and people are comfortable with me, all sorts of conversations are starting to open up. Yesterday one of my students told me I look older because I wear long skirts and walk slowly. It was only when I put on slacks and trail shoes that he said I look my age. (Thanks for the advice!) I had to explain to him that the clothes I wear in Africa are actually a bit different from my American dress, as a ... read more

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Jimma June 10th 2012

This week has been amazing. I mean really. I feel so fortunate to be having this experience. And while I get frustrated some days because of the hours that the electricity and water are off, and that I haven’t had a hot shower in many days, and that there are undoubtedly cockroaches scurrying over me at night, I feel like I am doing so much good here. The students are becoming more comfortable with me, so I’ve been able to joke around in class and have conversations with some of them outside of class. They are eager to learn and often reference my “vast experience,” when in reality most of them are just a few years younger than me. But it makes me remember how fortunate I am for my education and work experiences, and travel ... read more
pushing my bajaj out of the mud

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Jimma June 6th 2012

I am sitting in a hotel room I share with many cockroaches in a tiny hotel in a tiny town of 150,000 called Jimma in Ethiopia. I am here to teach a 3-week course on Qualitative Research Methods at Jimma University’s Department of Public Health. The university is one of the most prestigious and well known in Africa, but it is very resource poor. A colleague and I are being sponsored by the CDC to be here as part of a capacity building initiative linked to another project on HIV prevention. He and I are each teaching a course to a combination of university instructors and master’s students to build their research capacity. I arrived in Addis Ababa on Friday night and spent the weekend at the Hilton because flights to Jimma only run every 2 ... read more

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Jimma March 9th 2010

For our survey we are measuring child nutrition and weight, so we want to record if the child has been sick or is sick. Question 32 is “Does this child currently have diarrhea?” While we were recording a mother’s weight and height, her year-and-a-half old son squatted down and let out some 32 through his pants and on the floor. I record the data from the survey to electronic form, and when I got to question #32 I couldn’t help but laugh. Yes, that poor kid definitely has diarrhea currently.... read more

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Jimma March 9th 2010

Ned and I went to the Jimma Museum on the weekend, my companion didn’t feel well. The Americans said that if you have zero expectations, you would be pleased with museum. I had my student ID and got in for Birr 3 instead of the usual Birr 25 for foreigners. They advertised photos for Birr 5, but the guy said “no” for some reason? The guy/curator said there wasn’t an English tour, which we were cool with. Two Jimma University students were there and we all went in together. The curator gave the students a tour and we sort of tagged along and conversed using broken English and acting out our perceived uses for some questionable objects. Like the Americans said, if you have zero expectations, it’s a pretty good museum. The first room had a ... read more

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Jimma March 9th 2010

I leave Jimma tomorrow morning; ending one journey and starting another. It’s not really sad, though I will miss some of the girls that work at the internet café. We tried to tie all the loose ends we could. I took some more pictures; we went to the park and took a horse carriage taxi. Still trying to finish some stuff to do with the study, Ned might be able to help us finish some administrative type stuff. We haven’t seen Joseph in a week, but we left him a letter earlier today. Maybe he will come by. Tomorrow we will be in Addis, eating real food at Serenade. I can’t wait. Hopefully I will be able to ship my souvenirs home from the post in Addis. I might not be able to add to the ... read more

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Jimma March 9th 2010

Well, we are finally finished our survey. We needed 377 respondents to have a decent survey and we got a total of 438. Sweet. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without our 2nd data collector, the son of the guy I just happened to meet at the internet café. He was awesome. All of the data is entered; there are almost 100 variables for every 1 participant, though not all participants have all variables. We actually have statistically significant results, on a subject that appears to still be inconclusive to researchers. Perhaps because of this we will be able to publish our results. I am excited. ... read more

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Jimma March 2nd 2010

Shortly after sending out the photos and emails, the Americans from the NGO called and said that there is actually a group of foreigners who happen to be working in Addis for the next week and a half on facial abnormalities. They saw the pics and agreed to see her. She would be leaving soon. Alright, sweet…wait a second, we were told to keep her papers for her because we were supposed to take her back to Jimma Hospital on Monday. Crap. I called the saint the next morning and he said she should have her papers and x-rays, even if they are poor quality and will be taken again. So I called the Sisters to make sure she was still there. She was still there but she might be leaving after lunch or she would ... read more

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