dinsdag 5 mei 2015

And the temperature is rising…….....................

May 5, 2015

It’s been a while since my last blog, but that always seem to be my opening sentence. Lots of things have happened and I almost threw in the towel, for of lack of progress and cooperation at work. It seems that Ethiopia wants development without reform (new outcome without change) as a friend who also works in Ethiopia nicely put it into words.
After a few ‘collisions’ (both cultural and about work ethos) with several people, I decided to take a little break and that did the trick.
In this blog I will include more pictures, because some friend and family in the Netherlands have difficulty reading English.

Holiday in the country
From the beginning of March till March 11, I visited Saskia, Margaret, Roland and Michael and travelled to the southwest part of the country. This part reminded me much more of Africa than Afar. It was good to talk in Dutch face-to-face with people who understand instantly what I was going through.
In Addis, I treated myself on some nice dinners and bought delicious things I cannot get in Afar, like olives and sardines. I stayed a night at Saskia’s house. Saskia is a Dutch woman who lives in Ethiopia, she is married to an Ethiopian and has a consultancy firm. She worked for VSOE before, so she knows how things work when you’re a volunteer. Despite the fact that she lives in Ethiopia for several years, she has not lost her Dutch characteristics, especially in traffic.
I spend two nights at Margaret’s house, another volunteer, too.


Then I travelled by Selam bus to Roland in Hawassa.  He has some troubles with his placement too and we talked about it at length. Hawassa is a nice town, clean and organised and a lot of good restaurants. On the first night we ate at Papa Charly, a good Italian pasta with a good wine and a very very friendly and warming Italian owner, named Charly (not very suprising ;-)), with a tiramisu to end the meal. Simply delicious.
We took a boat trip on Lake Hawassa and saw Hippos from very close and the resort of Haile Gebreselassie from a distance. I like his philosophy, he does not give money to the Ethiopians, but employment. Some Ethiopians do not like him because of that, they only want him to give money with nothing in return.
The most striking thing during my stay with Roland was, that we both grew up in the same neighbourhood and attended the same primary school, but did not know each other and we only have a few years between us.

Haile resort

Next on the trip was Adola (also know as Kibre Mengist, but I did not know that at the time). This was the original destination of my trip, as I promised Michael that I would visit him. This time I travelled with a level 1 bus which started in the middle of the night. At the bus station, I asked if I was in the right queue for the bus to Adola and they said yes. But as Ethiopians do not easily say no, it is often difficult to judge if they mean really mean yes and if they understood you. According to Michael the road was bad, but I did not think so (in Afar we have much worse ones), so the first 1 ½ hours I was a little worried if I took the right bus. After approximately 5 hours the bus arrived in Adola. Michael picked me up from the bus station. I found the village very nice, much better than the image I had through the description by Michael. I stayed in a new hotel, booked by the dean of the college where Michael works. No hot water yet, but no broken things either. Michael showed me the villages and I bought some nice clothes for a good price. On Sunday we travelled to the country side with the loveliest priest I have ever met, named Father Giuseppe. He wanted to visit some new Catholic communities and we could join him. He had the most amazing stories about Ethiopia, but also about his live and how he became a priest. The next day Father Giuseppe had to go to Hawassa, so I spend another few hours in his company enjoying his stories. All and all the trip was very good for my morale.

Adola (wat er allemaal niet mee gaat)

Catholic church Adola

Training on Capacity building Planning, Management and Monitoring and Evaluation in Awash

Coming back to Semera, all of a sudden things became busy at work and changed from bad to good. I wrote a proposal for a training and after that prepared and gave the training together with Emon, Titi and Tatek for 57 Woreda Educational heads, principals and process owners and supervisors from 8 Woreda’s in Afar. The training was in Awash, another opportunity to buy some things, I cannot get in Semera. The training was good, but furthermore it was very good to see Titi again and spend some time with her, she has the same job as I, but in a different part of Ethiopia. She did part of the training and during her presentation there was a power outage. I was amazed how she handled it and continued on flip chart paper as if she had prepared it that way.  


group work

group work

Tilahun (participant)
Fassika (Eastern)
This year my Eastern called Fassika in Ethiopian was a week later than normal and without the bonfires. We, Emon and I, were invited to celebrate it at Negusi house. He is a colleague from the Educational Bureau and we had a good time and way too much food and alcohol. We started with whiskey at 10 in the morning, never a good idea, but sometimes those things happen.

Negusie giving food to Emon

 Training Staff Girls Boarding School
Another training has finally kicked off. Two weeks ago, I started with a capacity building training for the staff of the Girls Boarding School. The training is on Management (classroom, school), (continuous) assessment and student oriented teaching.
After some starting problems, a week later as planned, because a projector could not be found due to the absence of a colleague (yes really), only 5 persons attended the training, since there was another festive day and transport between Logyia and Semera was difficult to get and a wrong plug on the projector. As most of the staff are teachers I prepared a separate training (partly) for the principal focused more on her role. The evaluation of the training by the participants was very positive and I enjoyed giving it a lot.
This week the second session was planned, but as I am now on supervision with the Educational Bureau this will be a little later.


Supervision & Sand storm
As written above at the moment I am on Supervision and as I am in zone 1, where Semera is located as well, I only spend one night away from home until now. In December with Christmas and New Year I spend the first Supervision in zone 3. During Supervision a team of specialist of the Educational Bureau visits some schools and Woreda Educational Offices to see how the schools and Woreda are doing and if the quality of Education is improving.  We started on Sunday with a trip to Elidar where we visited 2 primary and one high schools. In Elidar there are no hotels and I slept in a private house. The Supervision was well organised and within one day we finished the Woreda. So only a short drive to Semera, 70 kilometre on a good road, home before seven in the evening, I thought. But never think like that. After a 30 kilometres the team members pointed something out next to the road. It looked like low clouds and I asked what it was. A sandstorm they said. I had heard about them but never experienced one. I said, is this colliding with us and they said yes and that was so true. At the moment it hit us all traffic stopped and you could not see more than a metre in front of you. The car rocked and even while the windows were closed, sand came in. After half an hour we drove on because the view was somewhat better, but we had to stop a few times more, when it got bad again. It was amazing and terrifying at the same moment. The most terrifying was my fear of being hit by a truck as they started driving again after 20 minutes. One of the team members told me that the wind blew much harder sometimes and that the cars would be blown away. At that moment TMI for me. Well we got home safe, I drunk a few beers and was glad there was no power so I could not see the mess in my home. I saw that the wash done by my cleaning lady was totally ruined and had to be washed again. Well that’s how I spend ‘Bevrijdingsdag’ from 8 till 12.

Dobi (Salt Mining)


Dust clouds

waiting for the storm to pass
Some ongoing activities which I enjoy very much is swimming. Last time I told about Genet and how she could not swim. Well, she is a fast learner and after 4 times is able to swim on her own. She is the only black women in the big pool, so you go girl. We make jokes, that Patricia means ‘telik asa’ (big fish) and Genet is makakalinja asa (medium fish) and a friend of Genet (Ceesay??) is tinish asa (little fish). Swimming takes a toll on her though, so most of the time she falls asleep around lunchtime. Further lots of people want to know how to swim better and I provide them with some instructions. They also challenge me to race them and most of the times I say no. If I do say yes, I usually win, although I have to make an effort to do so. I do not like breast crawl, but that’s the only way I can win.
I am still teaching English and I have more students now. I teach two persons privately Abdu and  Aly and at the Boarding School I decided to have a different set up and teach in two groups (advanced and beginners). This way also the high school girls who live at the compound can join. It is pleasant to do and takes up some free time.

Some last remarks (remarkable things)
* Nose picking. Everybody does it in public and they go deep ;-)
* Sewing clothes is a traditional men’s job.
* Someone in Addis told me, that when they build a library, kids made a hole in the roof to steal books. They were so eager to read. I do not approve stealing, but this made me smile. On the opening more than 3000 kids showed up. Compare this to the willingness of Dutch children to read and it makes me sad that they take so much things for granted and happy for the joy the Ethiopian kids still have in reading.
* Sleeping in restaurants and houses of people. It is not strange to go to someone’s house or restaurant and if you feel tired take a nap. Maybe it only happens in Afar, because of the temperature, but I see and do it sometimes too.
* Men are very pig-headed (all over the world). Going home by Bajaj one day, I told the driver to wait, because there was a ditch which we could not cross and my home was near. Coming back after 2 minutes, he was stuck in the ditch because he thought he could cross. So we had to push.........
* Last time I wrote that traditionally the Ethiopian have cushions on the floor where they sleep and sit on, but I stand corrected. It is not everywhere, but more a muslim tradition and as I am in a predominantly Muslim community I assumed it was an Ethiopian custom. But you probably know that assumption is the mother of all …………..

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