woensdag 29 oktober 2014

Field trip and Addis (twice)

October 24-29, 2014

It has been almost two weeks since my last blog, but that doesn’t mean that all was quiet. On the contrary,  I have been in Addis for my hepatitis B booster, been on field trip to 4 remote Woredas, got sick In Mekelle and two days after I returned from the field trip, I had to fly to Addis again for an Evaluation and Monitoring training by VSO. So let me go into some details now.
Before I begin, I just want tell you about the rain we had three weeks ago. I forgot to write this in my last blog, but because it was so special, it should be mentioned. On Sunday October 5 it rained for almost 3 hours and it was the first time I actually felt cold in Semera.
Even a week ago, there was a flooding in the southern part of Afar where a lot of people and children were effected. I had never realised that this could happen here, because Semera is such a dry and hot area. It felt like a wet summer day in the Netherlands.

As written above,I was in Addis for three days around half October for my booster for Hepatitis B. I stayed with Becky and Margaret, very lovely and hospitable volunteers from the UK, did some shopping and visit the Etymologic museum, where Becky and I got in for Habesha prices (5 birr per person instead of 100 for foreigners). We also had a delicious fruit drink (avocado, guava, banana, pear etc.). A way to get some extra vitamins.

On Tuesday I got back from Addis and on that day we left for the field trip. After I was picked up at the airport, I was brought home and packed new clothes and stuff for the trip and hurried to office to find out we were not leaving before 12 o’ clock. In the end we left at quarter to three, so I could rethink my packing, did, and forgot to pack important items anyway.  At the beginning of the evening we arrived in Teru and slept in some compound. The next day we visited an ABEC (Alternative Basic Education Centre), had a meeting and later a debriefing at the Woreda Office. In total we visited three ABEC’s and four Woredas. This trip made me realise how difficult it is to bring education into a pastoral society, but also how resilient these people are. Next to that they are really involved and actively participate in the educating of their children.  Very beautiful to see. The landscape is harsh and sometimes there aren’t even any roads. One time we even had to walk for around 40 minutes to an ABEC after the car could not go on.

Another thing I have to get used to, is that I have to clean my house every day, although I do not do this always. There is constantly so much sand that brooming is a new hobby of mine. I can even do this multiple times a day and still broom up sand. Also before you eat or drink anything, you should rinse your glass or plate. But I forget sometimes. Luckily eating and drinking sand is not that bad, I believe, since my mother always said: “Zand schuurt de maag.” (translated literally: Sand grinds the stomach).

To end this blog, because people are complaining my blogs are too long ;-), I would like to write about getting vegetables here. Lots of people I spoke and even some volunteers who have been here, said it was impossible to get vegetables here and that I had to eat goats’ meat all the time. Even when you were able to find vegetables it was abused before it reaches you. Well, although it is hard to get vegetables, I have now in my fridge:  cabbage, onions, carrots, tomatoes and potatoes (and yes I know, you should not store some of these vegetables in the fridge, but in Semera it is necessary because of the heat).
For getting the vegetables you just have to know when and where to go. So last Sunday, I went shopping in Logia with Sleshi, a philosophy and ethics teacher at Semera University. Okay, it is not as easy and abundant as it is in the Netherlands, but it is to cook different and interesting meals. I do not even cook meat at home, partly as I do not know where to get it and partly because when you eat out, there is always lots of meat. To prove, I eat vegetables, the picture below is from one of my cooking sessions, where I made a Spanish omelette, so I also know where to get eggs.


donderdag 9 oktober 2014

A new home for Patricia

This is my fifth blog about my work and life in Ethiopia. I am writing this in my living room, during the siesta on Thursday October 9. Yes, I now actually have a house and I am really enjoying this (see pictures). Much better then the hotel life. It is nice and quit and although it is somewhat basic, I already feel at home. In the evening we have water (most of the time) and there are only short power cuts every day, so I have managed to cook for myself despite of the power cuts. 
It is difficult to get vegetables here, but I managed to get garlic, onions, tomatoes and potatoes. Cooking is a little like you’re on a camping site, with one (electric) cooker, so you have to plan and first cook the rice and then put it in a blanket to keep warm (hooikisten). Then you cook your vegetables and meat (but I did not cook meat yet) and then you put the things together.
I also have a routine with water, while it fails a lot. Every time there is water, I am filling my bucket and bottles I have collected over the past days. So if the tap doesn’t run, I still can wash myself, cook and flush the toilet. 
The same goes for water to drink. When I come home I cook water and after it cools, I put in the distiller and I already have about 4 litres of clean (drinking) water. It taste a little bitter, but I mix it with mango juice, which I find to sweet anyway and then put it in the fridge and after 15 minutes or so I drink it.  The logistic person from VSO Mamo said that the bitter taste of the water would disappear after a few weeks.  On the photo of my kitchen it is the silvery thing.
 House front view with the porch
 Patricia and neigbour kid 
 Furniture (outside while cleaning the house)
 Living room
Kitchen with distiller (right)

Today Emon, my colleague and neighbour, has his birthday. I surprised him this morning with a few presents from the local shop, so candles, matches, milk, juice 2 empty bottles (to put the candles in) and a nail clipper. Yes, you have to be practical in this country J.

At work there is progress as well. As I mentioned above, I am writing this in the siesta. The working hours are from 7-12 and then from 15-18.  This week we had some meetings with management and at Tuesday we were introduced in a meeting by Mohammed Oudda (Vice Head of the Bureau) to almost all the higher management and their vice-managers. We will start working with them in the coming months. Btw, I already have a new line manager, because my first line manager is no longer working for the bureau. She went to work for a NGO. My new line manager is called Derasa and he is responsible for Curriculum in the bureau.

As our project is funded by UNICEF, we also got to meet Hailu, who is from UNICEF. We did some work together and decided to visit some Woreda Offices and ABE centres (Alternative Basic Education). As this is a pastoral society, where a lot of people have no permanent residence, because of sheep/goat hoarding special school are built and also mobile schools. The enrolment rate of children is still low compared to other districts of Ethiopia and all sort of solutions are sought to get this to a higher level. In the pictures you see Emon and Hailu working on the things we are going to check when we are going visit these places
 Emon and Hailu working on objectives
District Afar with 5 zones and 32 Woreda's

Today we also visited a teachers training in Logia. After being on the wrong location twice :-), we finally found the training session. We were introduced by Hailu and then we introduced ourselves and after that the teachers introduced themselves to us, with Hailu translating into English. 
What strikes me most was the soft speaking of the teachers. I wonder how they do that in class. Part of the lectures are about student centred teaching. That is one of the objectives for Education in Ethiopia. So no longer teacher-oriented.  I found it funny that the classroom setup was very teacher-oriented, and I was wondering how these teachers would learn a more student oriented way of teaching through this. But I was there only for half an hour, so maybe they had some other teaching methods later. I hope to be able to give workshops about this as well, because I really like to learn the teachers about this.

 Teacher-students          and      Teachers from REB
 Some students introducing themselves, with Hailu translating to English

Het laatste stukje van mijn blog doe ik in het Nederlands, omdat ik geen flauw idee heb hoe in dit moet vertalen. Het gaat over het drinken van koffie en of thee. Ik noem het voor mezelf “ het Nationale voetbad”. Overal waar je komt kun je koffie en thee drinken, maar altijd (nog maar 1 of 2 keer niet gebeurd), wordt er koffie of thee gemorst op je schoteltje. Dit komt, omdat de kopjes superklein zijn en men altijd inschenkt tot aan de rand (of eroberheen). In Nederland zou de ober of serveerster een doekje pakken en je schoteltje en kopje schoonmaken, maar hier krijg je gewoon een kopje voorgeschoteld met voetbad en moet je er zelf maar voor zorgen dat je geen koffie of thee morst op je broek. Erg apart en opvallend.