Blogs from 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 » Moyale April 17th 2012

While I don't expect to get much sympathy from my family and friends back home who are probably in work or studying readiung this while, I am off travelling. But I'm sure anyone who has done this journey will feel sorry for me given that I felt like s**t for most of it. I was up at 5.30 a.m. on the first day and caught a minibus from Dilla to Hagre Maryam, where I changed on to a bus to Moyale. This journey took about 10 hours. Moyale is a town split by the border between Ethiopia and Kenya. The only conceivable reason anyone would ever visit here is to cross the border by land. I got stamped out of Ethiopia and made my way over the border and applied for my Kenyan visa. This was ... read more
Photo 7
Photo 2
Photo 3

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Awasa November 11th 2011

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 ... read more
Blue Balls
Street in Shashamene
Teaching time at OPRIFS

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Moyale January 17th 2011

After four days in Djibouti City, it was once again time to head south towards Cape Town. I had eight days to reach Nairobi - 7 journeys, and 60 hours, away... The first two days were long but relatively uneventful - as uneventful as the public buses in Ethiopia can get anyway. They did however make me realise quite how much I've found myself liking Ethiopia, bouncing along on a bus full of 60 Ethiopians, crammed shoulder to shoulder with a young Muslim to one side and a Yoda-esque grandmother to the other, listening to tinny high-pitched Amharic pop, has a very unique charm. And, yet again, I was bought bought food and tea at each stop, and not given a chance to pay myself. The well documented Ethiopian hostility towards tourists that I'd read about ... read more
Room for one more inside?
Pit stop

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Awasa December 13th 2010

Lake Langano is amazing day e e e night. After breakfast we went back to the beach, which was not more than 15 meters :) The water is swimmable even though it looks pretty muddy and bloody, but when you start 'here comes the shark', 'let's teach Miki swim', or 'do the fears' kind of fun, you totally forget about it. I can not describe how beautiful day we had there. I will just write some words that tries to give the impression: 40 degrees, beer, blanket, Susi, juicy fresh sweet sweet mango, sandcastle, Miki, neighbours, chill, heat, sand, Sam, pelicans, nap, Wondy, waves, peace. Packing, leaving, sunburn, strada, sunset, Addis, Kera. It was very sad to get back home, felt like a teenager who fells in love at the school camp and never wants the ... read more
Wondy, Susi and Miki having fun

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Bale December 13th 2010

I still remember, when I was a child I was always begging my grandfather to tell again and again my favourite story. He just peacefully rolled his cigarette, lit it, deeply inhaled the smoke and in the random light of the pipe he said the following words. It was drought, big drought. We had no thing to eat, no thing to drink. We prayed for rain, but there was none, the sky gave no answer. But there He came. The Black King, every step of his was blessed. HIM, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Lion of Judah. From our fathers we knew there will be the day he comes to us, to free us, His Imperial Majesty, from the house of David, the offspring of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, ... read more
Wondo Genet
Wondo Genet

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