Sunday, September 24, 2006

I wanted to show you some pictures of Addis and write a bit more about it before I head off to Adwa. In Addis for the in-country training, I'm a bit of a tourist and I find it hard to take pictures I'm happy with. I don't like taking pictures of people I don't know; especially when I'm ultimately using the picture to show how poor their country is. And also, because I don't know them there may be a context to the picture that's getting lost. At any rate there are a few pictures here that I hope will show you a bit about Addis; and for what it's worth, the children gave their permission to have their pictures taken.

We took a little hike up Mount Entoto, the small mountain peak overlooking Addis Ababa. Addis is not very high - only about 2000 metres, but the altitude has still been felt by many of us, and we took it pretty slowly. It was a good chance to get out of the city and breathe some fresh air. Because diesel is cheap, almost all vehicles in Addis run on it, and there's constant fumes and haze. As we're ferenji (foreigners), a little group of boys excitedly accompanied us up the mountain; once up there another cluster of children watched us with curiosity. I took pictures of both groups, and I'm sure you can see a difference in the income level between the two, and the real extremes are actually much greater.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Well, I'm finally here in Ethiopia, as a volunteer
teacher trainer with VSO. I'll be here in Addis Ababa
for in-country training till about the 3rd or 4th of
October before going off to Adwa, Tigray region which
will be home for the next year.

The internet at the VSO office in Addis is quite
terrible, so I haven't sorted out my big blog yet but
I'm hoping that I'll be able to do this in the next
few weeks, and then you'll be able to enjoy some
pictures and more news from Ethiopia.

Addis is definitely a
city of contradictions. There are highways and some
nice buildings, including the very modern NGO building
where VSO holds the in-country training (it doesn't
belong to VSO; they're not quite so liberal with their
spending). There are Lexuses and high-end restaurants,
and the British Embassy is ridiculously posh. Then,
there are shacks the size of a small bathroom, beside
ordinary looking houses, beside more shacks, and
ramshackle shops. There are pack mules carrying goods
along main streets, and herds of goats and sheep
grazing in the city. There are people dressed in rags,
and people dressed in the most current fashions. There
are hungry people begging - mostly mothers and small
elderly and disabled people. It’s hard and strange to
walk past mothers begging for food and not give them
anything. (I do sometimes, but not all the time.)

It's the end of the rainy season, and because of the
altitude in Addis, it's actually quite cold. You do
see the sun every day though, even if only for a short
time. Today, it started out quite warm and nice, and
then around noon, the heaviest, loudest rain I've ever
seen started pouring down, along with intense thunder,
and now it's clear again.

I'm looking forward to going up to Adwa and getting
settled there. I will be the only VSO volunteer in
Adwa but I've met all the volunteers who will be in
Mekelle, the nearest big town, and they are very nice
and it's only a couple of hours bus ride away, along
pretty decent roads. My house in Adwa is apparently
quite nice and quite large, with running water etc.
(So, if you are planning a trip to Ethiopia there will
be a room for you in Adwa!)

For those who have been following the great condo
saga, it's finally sold!

Monday, September 11, 2006

4 days to go! The anticipation, and the panic, are mounting.

This is a test-blog to make sure it works. (I've never had a blog before; it's almost as exciting as the trip itself!) I plan to update it while I'm in Addis for two weeks of in-country training. Unfortunately, I've received mixed reports about internet access in Adwa so I can't guarantee regular updates once I get there.

If you haven't yet made a donation to VSO Canada, and would like to, you can do so online by clicking on Donate to VSO Canada. Thanks!

These are the books I'm bringing with me, if I can fit them in:

The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid isn't Working by Robert Calderisi
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
Race Against Time by Stephen Lewis
The Fate of Africa by Martin Meredith