vrijdag 20 februari 2015

Some things are still remarkable here

February 20, 2015

In my last blog, I wrote that I could not do the Dr. Denker this year, but Jos provided me with a link to a website, so I was able to do the puzzle. However it is not the same as doing it under the Christmas tree with your family and friends. It killed time though and with the help of Jaspers site, I was able to solve all 40 puzzles.
On Christmas Eve I drank a few beers with a guy from Cuba, who worked all over the world and now in Ethiopia. That was a very pleasant way of spending the evening and gave me a little bit of a Christmas feeling, because the next two day it was just work the whole day.
On New Year’s Eve the Supervision was still not finished and there were not a lot of festivities where I was (Gewane). The next day we returned to Semera and in the evening I went out for a few beers with Emon, who also lives in Western time ;-).

2 Girls of the Boarding School
After my return, I picked up my English teaching at the Girls Boarding School. It is very enjoyable to do, but also hard. I have given 4 lessons now and they really have not (yet) a good understanding of English. The girls are not used to speaking and just say: ‘No English’, but also do not comprehend most of the things I say.  I have talked about it with the director of the school and she will address these issues with the girls and also my line manager will go to school with me soon and tell the girls to at least try to speak English, come to classes and do their homework. Still, I like to go there, because the girls are so curious and have a frankness (if you can use the word like that in English) about themselves which I really adore.
Girl of Boarding school reading a poem

In January, I visited Semera University (SU) or Samara University as I see it spelled most of the times. Abu Bakr, a lecturer showed me around at the campus and introduced me to a few deans of different Faculties. Just as I was about to leave, he saw the president of SU called Adem Borre and he asked me if I would like to be introduced to him. I said yes please. So I was introduced and expected to only shake hands and speak a few words, but he invited me into his office and we talked for almost an hour about how we can strengthen the links between the REB and SU. At the time I was wearing my pink VSO T-shirt from the Netherlands and he was very enthusiastic about the previous VSO volunteers who had worked at SU and also about the Netherlands which he visited when he was doing his PhD. He also gave me goodies, like 2 T-Shirts, the Dagu (book of the University) and a big cup for drinking tea. It was really a nice meeting. And I think some cooperation between the REB and the SU will be the result.
Next to that, I met up a few times with my new friend Rosy. She is a lecturer at SU in ICT and next month we are most likely to do a seminar on maintenance (hardware, software, administration and so on).  So my teaching wishes will most probably be fulfilled.

Gennet & Patricia
And to end this part, I am also a private teacher in English to Aly and for swimming to Gennet. Aly is a very eager student. He lives close to my home and when I go to a restaurant nearby for dinner, lunch and so on he passes by, then we talk some and I provide him with six words (just from a page in the book I am currently reading and he looks them up in my phone which has an English Amharic dictionary.  Last Saturday, I went swimming with Gennet only to find out when we arrived at the swimming pool, that she could not swim. So I tried to teach her the basics and at the end of the day she overcame her fear and I think after a few more times, she will be able to swim properly.

Me taking a plunge in the pool
Also at work things are slowly beginning to get shape. At the end of January I presented my observations on the first three months in Afar to the Management. It was appreciated and hopefully some things will change. This weekend the end report of the supervision is presented to High School Principals and to the Woreda Education heads. After that I expect that the biggest challenges and gaps are identified and that I can start with the capacity building for the staff in the AREB and at the Woreda level.

Some unpleasant news: I lost my E-reader in December and last Tuesday I found out, that the person who took it, had the nerve to order two books with my account and unfortunately that will also be paid by me. :-( The books are called: ‘The Sheik's Virgin Lover.’ and ‘Romantic Acquisition.’ by Elizabeth Lennox. I assume there not very good books, based on what I read in the reviews. We call those sort of books ‘flut- or stuiverromannetjes’ in my language. I think Chick Lit is the word in English, but since I paid for it (yes I am really Dutch), I will, as soon as I have a Wi-Fi connection, download it on my phone and read the books. Maybe in one of the next blogs, I will write a review and be not so biased about this Elizabeth Lennox anymore ;-)

Afar man
On January 25, the 15th pastoralist day was celebrated in Semera and the 4 pastoralist groups of Ethiopia came to Semera and performed a show in the stadium, which was beautifully renewed for this purpose.  The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn was present and also the Minister of Education. He started his visit to Semera a few days before the pastoralist day and I met him and briefly spoke to him in the Educational Bureau, which was nice.
I am going to write an article about this day for the Hyperbole Magazine, so I will only include pictures in my blog. It was a striking and well organised event.

Afar women
Afar man jumping
Afar women
Afar men dancing


Pastoralist groups

Afar women with traditional headscarf and hairdo



Gambella men and women dancing

Oromia men dancing

Somali men and women dancing
 At the end of this blog I write again a few things I still find remarkable or some other observations and things that happened to me:
Traditional hairstyle Afar man
* The Ethiopians use sticks for brushing their teeth. These sticks have some antibacterial substance in them and according to some research are as good as the brushes used in the western world
* When the Ethiopians listen to you, they inhale as if they are choking. At first I had to get used to this and thought the person had some respiratory problem, but then the whole population are asthmatics. I am not the only one who noticed this, because I talked about it with e.g. Oscar and he said he thought the first time that his driver had a heart attack or something.
* On the supervision my lips became very dry and I had to search (again) for some lip balm. I have not learned anything from my previous visits, as I took three different lip balm with me to Ethiopia which I bought in Slovenia, Spain and Scotland. And besides that I bought lip balm in Mekelle.
* I am learning the Feedel (Ethiopian Alphabet) as well, but prior to that, I learned how to write my first name in Feedel.
* I have spent two nights in an Ethiopian home during supervision.
* The Ethiopian do not use sofas and chairs in their homes. Instead they have pillows on the floor and against the walls.
* I am the sister of Robin van Persie (although that has been asked many times, so I concluded that I am ;-)).
* Ethiopian use the words ‘off course’ a lot, when they actually mean yes.
* If you eat spaghetti or pasta you get at least 250 grams of pasta and only a little bit of sauce and I was used and liked it the other way around.
*I have met Filemon Wesselink black twin brother. He works at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia in Semera and I think he is the spitting image of him.
Installing water tank
* Everywhere in Semera you see piles of rocks. They are used for building houses (see pictures) and hacked into shape to build a wall or anything else, like the pillar for the water tank next to my house

Installing water tank