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Africa » Ethiopia » Southern Nations Region » Awasa
April 13th 2009
Published: April 13th 2009
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Hey Everyone.
I know its been a while but I figured you just got tired of reading about me receiving packages and what I had to eat. Now I have some actual news.
The Head Guy from the Aids Resource Council came down to Hawassa the other day to talk with his new Peace Corps volunteer, Rich. Rich is a pretty unique character; 6 years in the military and felt he wasn’t doing anything good for the world. So he joined the Peace Corps. He is doing IT work for the ARC trying to setup a computer lab for them to use. While Rich has been doing this I have been getting out and meeting the local NGOs. So Rich’s boss wanted to have lunch with me and talk about what gaps I have found in my area. I thought that was pretty neat.
I have been volunteering at the SNNPR’s Forum of HIV/AIDS NGOs. Their IT guy left about a week ago and no one really knows anything about computers. Also, this was the month that they were going to put out a newsletter. So I stepped in and said I would do all of the layouts for them. Then I would do a training on how to use Microsoft Publisher. The truth is that the layout for the last edition was amazing, so I just used that and put in new articles. I spent about 3 or 4 hours a day for the past week on it. They may even pay me per diem, which would be really nice.
Some days just really amaze you with what you see. On my way into work today I saw a cow femur leftover from the hyenas that come out at night, I saw a minibus with two huge subwoofers promoting a new young Ethiopian Recording Artist slowly coming down the road, two people trip as they were walking because they were staring at me walking in the opposite direction, and a woman dump her motorcycle (she was ok)(and I think she dumped her bike because she was looking at me).
I still haven’t gotten my computer from my counterpart because the Hawassa driver for PSI is in Addis with a bad back. He has been to the doctors off and on for the better part of a month or two. He apologized and I told him not to worry about it. Wait till he feels better and then come down. That’s an example of how caring Ethiopians generally are. They will bring you an extra chair to put your backpack in, at restaurants. My backpack is completely fine on the floor.
I am slowly weaning myself off of the things I think I need from the states to live. The first of these was candy. I Love Candy; but I had so much that I made myself sick. I have been sending small care packages of candy to friends here in country. Just to remove the temptation.
Last night I was walking home from dinner at a co-worker’s house. Kath, a VSO volunteer from Leeds, England, had myself and Chris over. She made this amazing ground nut stew. She learned the recipe when she was in Ghana in the late sixties. She is a blast. I think last night she said she was born in 1941. You would never know it though. First thing she did when we got over last night was hand us 10 birr and told us to go fetch some tonic for her gin. We got back and she made three cold gin and tonics and we kicked back. Anyways, my point telling you that, was that on my way home I walked under the brightest moon I have seen. The power was off but I didn’t even need it to see the rocks that help you break toes.
One of my friends, Chris (Biker), is coming out here to see me for a week in late June. I still have to tell him that is the beginning of the Wet Season, but the seasons have been so screwy lately no one is banking on it starting then. I guess we will see. Another one of my friends, Shannon, is coming out either late this year or early next year. I am super excited to have someone come out and see what it is like out here. I think to be able to share an experience will be incredible. Like when I get home and people ask how was it? All I can say is that, “it was good, real good.” How else do you package Africa up into 6 words? At any rate, I will be very glad to see faces from the states.
I have been finding out about what type of project I may want to work on. I have been told that with all of the NGOs in my town there is only one working on commercial sex workers(CS-Dubs) in our area. I think that this may be something I would want to pursue. The idea that these women can’t change their profession because of the lifestyle they are accustomed to. So there is a whole world of different possibilities as to how to help these women. Condom promotion, voluntary counseling, income generating activities, and education about general knowledge of HIV/AIDS and other STIs (STI-Sexually Transmitted Infection is the new STD). Also, with the two other volunteers working towards youth programs and orphanages, I don’t think it would benefit my community to do any work in these areas.
Now all I have to do is to figure out how to engage these women. There is one faith-based organization working with CSWs in our area, which is quite striking because of the 30 HIV/AIDS NGOs in our region, 14 are working with youth. I plan to meet with that one FBO sometime this week.
I had the most amazing bucket bath today. I have never heated up the water because I thought it was a waste of propane but today I wasn’t feeling like waking up and I was super dirty. I played soccer with the forty or so kids that live around my compound. It was so much fun. The kids got a real kick out of it too. That was because I pumped up the soccer ball I brought with me. They usually play with plastic bags balled up in an old sock. I am not one to brag because I have never really played organized soccer except when I played on the Crunchers when I was like 6 for an indoor league, but I did score once. The final score was 3-2, we lost. The hot water helped to wash away the loss though.
I am going to buy a bike today. I need to stop walking 3-5 miles a day. The lake, I have found out is 47 kilometers around. So that is about a day trip. Perfect for the weekend. There is also a local hot spring about 34 kilometers out of town, so I will check that out as well. Walking just takes forever and on a bike you don’t get as much harassment.
So that's pretty much it in a nutshell for me out here. I am getting really good at the three meals I make. Lentil burgers, Fried Rice, and Pasta. I could probably make more but I want to perfect these before I move on to other things(lazy). I am experimenting with my dutch oven. I made some really killer breadsticks and the next night i got cocky and tried to make pretzels and failed horribly.
Well, if you have any questions or anything about what its like out here, just let me know. I should update pictures sometime this week. I need to figure out how to link the two sites a bit better.
Ok, I miss you all... Bye


13th April 2009

keep 'em coming
Hi, John- I'm enjoying your blogs. The English in this one was so good I almost teared up! cheers, Mike
14th April 2009

Soccer Blues
I know what made me tear up was the thought of kids kicking around a plastic bag with a sock in it. Do I need to send some soccer balls, John? Please note my email address is no longer cheryl@alivebg.org. If that was my smarty husband with the English remark, just ignore him. He's in the throes of editing a thesis. He suffers mightily. I miss you, John! Keep experimenting with the cooking.
4th May 2009

That's amazing you are doing a project on sex workers. I would be really interested in hearing your work with that. Thanks for keepin us all posted on what's goin on in Africa! Have a great day John!

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