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Published: March 16th 2009
Hey Everyone!!!! I have a bunch to tell everyone but first, I have to thank Cheryl for her care package. It was amazing. One of the most beautiful things I have seen here in Ethiopia. It came with Playdoh, a small puzzle, Frisbee, socks, the biggest bag of Sour Patch Kids I have ever seen, 4 bags of Swedish fish and a whole case of assorted M&Ms. Thank you so much Cheryl, it was perfect. So this marks the one month of being at site for me. This means that we are allowed to travel in our region on the weekends. I am so excited. We had Bonnie and Kyle come up from the south, Brad from the west, and Marina from just north of us. They were all jealous of my package from Cheryl. We all started drinking on the wine I made, which didn't turn out too bad. It was pretty close to Mad Dog 20/20 but it cost about $0.40 to make 15 liters. We all went out dancing. We hung out with these locals all night. They were hilarious. Popping and locking the whole time. It was a good night. It was great seeing everyone and hearing how their sites are going. Some people are working harder than others. I almost think it is harder for me being in a large city as opposed to some of the other volunteers who are in much smaller cities. Like Kyle, he is in a town of 40K people and one NGO. He knows who he is going to work with. There are 32 NGOs in Awasa that have some sort of interest in HIV/AIDS. I am having a hard enough time just finding these places much less finding out what sets them apart from the other NGOs. Oh, here is something interesting. The Ethiopian Government just passed a new proclamation that states, "if an organization receives more than 10% of their funding from foreign sources they are not allowed to work in advocacy." This is a huge thing for the HIV/AIDS community. There are very few organizations that get their money from domestic sources as Ethiopia is a very poor country. I think there is a 90 day grace period, which is in effect right now. I will keep you updated on how things are changing. I met a pretty neat guy yesterday. His name is Andy from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He writes a travel blog called Hobo on the Road. Apparently, its pretty big. I think he was just glad to speak English with us. Let's see what did I find out about the other volunteers. Oh, one girl in the north got bit by a dog and had to go to Addis for Rabies booster. She is fine now. There was a big party in Mekele for the people in the North like ours in the south. In-Service Training, is after 3 months at site. We all meet back up in a town called Sodera for 9 days. We are getting 3 days of training on how to start a garden and 5 days on grant writing and some other things. Yea, I know sounds like a blast. But, I have organized a giant Kickball game. The North vs The South. I have some special plans for this event. I found fireworks in my town, so I am going to bring some. I also found balloons so after the game is over, I think we should just turn it into a giant water balloon fight. That should help everyone's morale. I am really excited for this week. I am pretty sure my computer, my counterpart got for me, should be coming in. I am going to save up to buy an external hard drive because one of the volunteers brought a bunch of media so I will have some things to watch in my free time. I have it all planned out. We get 1800 birr (170 US dollars) a month to live on. That includes everything like travel, Internet, food, everything. So when I get my deposit for April I am going to buy a bike so I can save money not riding in bajajs (3 wheeled taxi). Then send in my reimbursement and when I get that included in my May allowance, I will be set. In the mean time I just need to watch my spending. Keep cooking in my house and not eating out. I cannot believe I have already been here for 4 months. Well, I guess I will talk to you guys later.
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