waves

Unfortunately, living in a landlocked country there are no waves here, that at least I automatically think about when I hear the word…such as a ocean’s waves. However, there are waves of different kinds like the waves of the wind, the waves you can see in the clouds, through the trees, the waves of Amharic, of Kaffinoonoo; the waves of emotions, of feelings…

People with ideas gravitate towards avenues, whether they be people, conversations, adventures, activities, that allow that person’s idea to live, to flow, roll, morph. It’s about becoming one with the idea; being into the wave; flowing as a changeless state (Bruce Lee) wherever that waves goes. It’s about being open to finding your wave, about being open to let your wave find the current. This is the challenge. Sometimes, our wave may be so hard to find it seems nonexistent, however it is there. Languages, cultures, norms, societies– all of these can be and are paths, as well as challenges to finding the wave. The trick is twisting, rolling, searching ourselves to evolve to what the wave is at that time, at that place. Finding the idea, the wave, and chasing it, and riding it. We are waves within ourselves, within us, part of the current. 

It ripples across your whole world.

 

 

Man is only great when he acts with passion…

Writing about what I’ve been doing and working on is much different than actually doing it, and difficult to explain, but what’s not difficult to write about is the people I’ve met. From Soshal, Mamush, The Hoskins, Tilahun, to the woman from Chocha, or the woman with the baby wrapped in red, any many others, these are what is making my time in Ethiopia more life changing than I know how to explain. I think providing a short story about each will help to epitomize many things about them, and Ethiopia. 

First, the woman from my office and I are working together on a project and before our meeting the other day I went to her house for a cup of post-lunch coffee before we headed off. Unsurprisingly, I walk in and am kindly greeted and see another woman which I do not know. So we drink our coffee and then head out, as does the other elderly woman. As we are walking out I ask, “who is she? A neighbor, friend or relative?” To which I was replied, “no, I don’t know who she is, or where she is from, but she has been coming here for lunch every day.” Although I was shocked that a complete stranger would be welcomed in and fed to such an extent, I’m not surprised that my co-worker does so. Not sure how that would fly in my culture…

As I was walking out of the health clinic one day, with one of the employees, a woman speedily walks past us with her baby wrapped in a red blanket on her back, like most women with their infants. But I was caught off guard when my friend asked, “do you see that woman;  her baby has died and she wrapped it and covered its head so people don’t know.” I watched her walk barefoot up towards town with a strong face, holding her emotions in, until she reaches her destination. I couldn’t take my eyes off that little red body until I lost site of them…

One day I was going into Bonga with the local clinic’s car, and we were going to drop a patient off at the hospital then run some errands. The woman had walked for 3 or 4 days from the pastoralist area of Chocha to come to the clinic in Chiri. After finding out that her C-section had opened, completely, and come all this way, I couldn’t believe or imagine the pain this woman that I was helping to load into the trunk of a car that would be riding on bumpy, unpaved, windy roads for the next 40 minutes, was going through. Her C-section had opened entirely and was holding it together with the blanket wrapped around her waste. As we got to the hospital, and did our best putting together Kaffinoonoo and Amharic to explain what was going on, we were refused, saying they had been here before, the family refusing to give her blood (probably from fear?) and the doctor had given her own and operated, and would no longer accept them. Looking into the eyes of this woman, who didn’t even speak Kaffinoonoo, having almost no idea what was going on, except for being able to see the arguments, and moving her and her baby to the entrance of the hospital is something I can’t forget. 

The young epileptic boy who was put on the streets by his family for who knows what reasons, and spent a few days in the in-patient room, and always brought a smile to my face. He was improving, could now stand and walk on his own, move his arms, and even say a few words expressing comprehension of my greetings. Then, in the midst of trying to get him home, the car drove off leaving me with this: ‘his family won’t accept him, his community won’t accept him, the government isn’t accepting him, and we can’t, so we’re going to go and talk with the head official and figure something out.’

The family that completely caught me off guard and welcomed me beyond what I would have ever thought, making my arrival to Chiri much greater and enjoyable, left for America. It’s difficult to thank them, but it also shows me that out in the middle of wherever, when you least expect it, it’s completely possible to find friends you never knew you had. They’ll spend a few months in America, then maybe head back out to another country. Besalam enegena nyalen.

One of the few people who I can say is a friend. Spending time helping me to adapt to Ethiopia, giving me tips, advice, encouragement, and just being himself, makes me feel good especially on the days when I feel like all I am is white skin and a dollar sign. 

I’m not sure what I’ll be able to accomplish here, but I already know that I’m taking more away from Chiri than I could ever give…

Writing about what I’ve been doing and working

800 lb. Gorrilla

I just fought an 800 pound gorrilla, and won, for now…let me explain. It started last Monday as my counterpart, Tilahun, informed me that we had a mainstreaming discussion program (HIV/AIDS discussion)with one of the offices that afternoon, at 3pm. So we left the office and headed toward the meeting place to wait for them to show. We end up sitting in front of a Mohammad’s suk (shop) for about an hour just talking and waiting, and after approximately 10 times of me asking if we should go look for them, where they were, or what was going on, Tilahun just kept laughing at me, and said this is how things work here. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it. But I can’t help it, ‘I’m American’, I say. If you’re not early, you’re late, and I used to show up 30 minutes before basketball practice everyday… Anyways, fastforward 2.5 more hours, 1 hour past work is over, and they start to trickle in, finalllllly. So I’m thinking, well this is my first program so I’m just going to use this as an learning experience and pay attention to the flow of information and the program, and we can discuss it later. I had no plan to really participate, although in almost every single setting I’m usually deferred to for entertainment or something of the sort. So now we’ve waited 3.5 hours, and I’m still not really sure which office this is for just yet, but not thinking much of it and just a little on edge, ready for the diversion to me at some random point in this program. So now about 15 people show up, then 20, now we’re just waiting for a few more, they tell us. Finally, the final group walks in, and who is it, but the biggest, most important people in town, all the head political figures………….

Wasn’t ready for that. Everything is really political here, as it is everywhere, and what these people say goes, and what they think is important. Very important. I try not to let it get to me, but there’s no denying the power of this, and I also don’t want to look like a tool who has nothing to show for my work thus far. But I shouldn’t have worried right, I wasn’t going to be doing the talking…until Tilahun let’s me know, shortly after he finishes his program, that I now need to get up in front of 30 people, big shots, and explain, in English, broken Amharic and Kaffinoonoo what deep kissing is. Pretty akward, funny, and I really have no idea if they understood what I said or not, but I did it. And I managed to nervously throw in my 2 cents which I thought was pretty good, and next time I’ll be able to communicate it better. What I said was that it’s very difficult for 2 people (1, me) to create HIV/AIDS programs for over 150,000 people, most who don’t know how to read, have power, running water, and are nomadic (down south). In addition, most of the governmental employees are education, know about HIV/AIDS and are reluctant to learn about what they already know. So, I ended explaining how we needed their help to teach their families, their neighbors, and community members. To accept responsibility for something that may not directly affect them or their work, but to essentially just help be a better community member. Well, that was my idea, again, not sure if that was explained well after the french kissing discussion. Anyways, night goes on, we eat dinner, end up having a few beers, then per usual, as the music and dancing starts up, they want me to get out there. Good thing I’ve been brushing up on my Kaffinoonoo dancing, and amaze them that yes, ferenji can dance. Got a bunch of “gobez, gobez, gobez!!,” which means clever or great, something of the sort haha. After a few dances I pull and “Irish Exit,” my favorite, and duck out, unannounced. Great. That worked out much better than I thought, especially after waiting 3.5 hours and weeks of frustration building up to a not so genuinely enthusiastic me. Held my head up, was happy about it and headed home, and even snuck in a phone call from Brad, to top it off!

2 am, wake up to what I can only describe as an ocean of bubbles and slosh moving around in my stomach, didn’t puke, made it through the night. Now it’s Tuesday, Wednesday is Labor Day, no work, Friday is a holiday, no work, aka Tuesday, Thursday, no work. So I’m trying to make some things happen in this time frame, keeping in mind not to get frustrated, because realistically, nothing is going to get done this week. As the week goes on, so does the ocean in my stomach and by Thursday I finally decided to go to the doctor and run a few tests. I have an amoeba! Yes, just what I wanted. Now, Thursday, every governmental employee leaves town for their hometowns for the holiday, including Tilahun whom I was supposed to go with, one of my best friends and co-worker. Come Friday, town is empty. Ghost town. Especially with the dense clouds where you can barely see across the street. Come Saturday and I can’t get out of bed. Tired, so tired, achy, just feel like crap. No one in town. The family I live with has currently moved to the new house, but since my room isn’t ready I’m living alone. Very alone. Sick and alone. Just laying in bed looking out my window to the pouring rain with no where to go and nothing do to (even my computer was dead, well 2%). This is where the fight started.

As our Country Director had explained after our swearing in ceremony, the biggest battle was going to be with the 800 lb. gorrilla in the room, ourselves. And after feeling probably more alone than I ever have, and probably ever really was, all these negative thoughts started going through my head, some of which aren’t the first time I’ve had. What am I doing here, am I making a difference, what am I doing with my life. Some thoughts I’ve had before Ethiopia as well, leading me to realize that I’d always been fighting this gorrilla, my whole life. Whether it be expectations, standards, feelings, from friends, family, or myself, I’ve always had to deal with them, and quite frankly it was just way easier to ignore them when I didn’t want to face them, or wasn’t ready. I could amuse my every thought or impulse to so easily, which really made it more difficult to improve myself. And now that I think of it, it wasn’t difficult to leave all the material things behind, it was scary to realize that I would be so exposed to myself. Would I be tough enough, smart enough, strong enough to make it through two years, culture, languages, and a new society all on my own. Every morning I make the decision to put this little book and pen in my front pocket to learn new phrases, words, or cultural facts on the road. Every morning. And every morning, I decide do I want to learn today or not. Whether I put those items in my front pocket (of my favorite, now incredibly faded green shirt) determines my attitude for the day ahead. Because I don’t have the distractions and material things to change my mind or distract me, I have to analyze every single move throughout the day.

And when I was down and out, after 5 days of feeling like crap, and literally becoming more isolated as people left for the holiday, I had reached my lowest point thus far. Thankfully the slush ended and Fasika (Easter) was the next day, and I dragged myself out of bed, forced myself to be with people, and ignore the thoughts that we’re pulling me down. Despite how hard it can be at some points to learn what type of person you really are, when you think you have an idea, every single moment of every day, I wouldn’t trade it for one cent more than my 125 a month.

I feel alive, not enthusiastically at all times, but learning about the world, Ethiopia, people, cultures, languages, myself is really great, and I’m happy I left the fog for the much clearer view of the world and the realities of it.

Plus, just thinking explaining french kissing in that dimly lit restaurant is really entertaining enough if I just think about it…

And now I’ve also realized that as of now my biggest obstacle is getting people to commit to an idea or plan. For example, the field we play soccer on has grass up to just below my knee. After suggesting we bring our machetes to cut it several times I was fed up, and on Saturday walked to the field alone with my machete to get started, as planned the previous week. However, no one was there, and just as I was about to start goin off in my mind, I see people showing up. The first 4 people didn’t bring a machete, either didn’t have one or bring one, but we just took turns, then 2 others came. Then 3 others, all with machetes, then another. Soon we were hacking away. Didn’t even complete the center circle completely, but almost. And I know that it was me walking through the center town with my machete that people saw, and they realized someone else had committed first, and now it was okay to go. But why is it so difficult to get people to commit? Or at times, why is it so hard for me to commit?

 

Albert Einstein

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything”

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

 
 

 

 

Been thinkin…

Are you a doctor. No. Can you do this, can you do that. No. Oh. I’m here to help teach
about HIV, prevent it, and help build better lives for people living with HIV/AIDS.
However, most of the time I’ve been feeling useless, and unimportant, other than a
great form of entertainment. I’m great at greeting people on the street, introducing
myself in Amharic and Kaffinoonoo now, and holding incredible amounts of short
conversations all day long, from the minute I wake up, until I go to bed. Despite my
successes in integrating in language, I often feel like I won’t be able to make a
difference here. I don’t offer the things NGO’s do, like money, food, housing, water
pumps, and the such. And in the last 3 and a half months of living here in Decha
Woreda, I’ve witnessed an overwhelming amount of needs and wants, that I just can’t
possibly help with my own two hands. I would love to help the woman and her daughter
who make my morning every day as I walk by them, and the little girl runs out to greet
me in Kaffinoonoo. I would love to help the 15 year old blind and deaf girl in 2nd grade
living about 30 minutes past my village in a little 3 room school house. I would love to
help the 10 members of the PLHIV group, and the people who will walk for hours, days,
just to get to my town for medical help. I can’t. Just the other week I had to travel to
Addis for a two week training with all the other volunteers in my group. I was carrying a
lot of the weight of Chiri with me, and trying to make sense of where I have come from,
in contrast to where I am living now. As I was trying to catch a bus to Bonga to begin my
journey, thankfully, a man who knew me turns and says “Tedi, where are you going?” I
responded with a big smile, all proud of myself for getting on the right bus so easily, and
say “I’m going to Bonga,” in Amharic, as a packed bus all stares at me, some impressed
I can speak their language, and others just staring because I’m foreign. Turns out the
bus was just about to head in the other direction from Bonga, and go to a different
village. So, I embarrassingly hopped off the bus and was going to wait for the next one
to come. But my friends down in the next village at Lalmba, an NGO, called me said
they had an emergency and had to go to Bonga, if I needed a ride I could come. So I
headed down, couldn’t have worked out better, that way I could still get to Bonga in time
to buy the bus tickets before the station closed. As I arrived at Lalmba they were loading
the car, of people, the sick man and a few family members. So I hopped in and heard
the doctor say to Andrew, “they don’t want to go.” Apparently afraid that he wasn’t going
to live. Seems confusing, I know, it was. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t want to
go and bring him to the hospital, and save his life. They decided to make the trip and we
started away. About 20 minutes in of the hour drive, they start making commotion in the
back, and the car stops. Andrew says they want to turn back. “Is it a money issue” I ask,
I’ll pay the fee anonymously to admit the man. “They think he’s going to die and don’t
want to risk it,” he replies. “Andrew, I don’t understand, he can live if we go.” Andrew
begins to explain this thought process that I was completely unaware of before. First of
all, the entrance fee is an investment, if the family member dies, they also lose much of
their savings. Second, if the person dies, often times its difficult to find anyone to
transport a dead body, and the four hour walk back to Chiri, then on to their village,
would be terrible. Oh, I understand a little more now. So, car stopped on the dirt road,
Andrew tries to call the doctor, no cell service. If the family doesn’t want to go, we can’t
make them, so we turn back. No more than 3 minutes later, crying starts. Wailing.
Mourning. He died. He died right there in the car, and as turn around I catch the eyes of
maybe his son, staring back, crying. The girl in the middle seat was wailing, infectious,
her sadness came into me. So loud, so real, letting it all out. So we headed back to
Chiri. drive past Lalmba toward the next village, maybe their house, or a friends. Pick up
the family members returning home, as the girl yells out the window to relay the
message, and pick them up. When we arrive at the house people gather around the car.
10, 15, 20, 25. What happened? Who is it? Word spreads. They carry the body into the
house with a scarf over his face. The whole time unsure of what to do. I couldn’t do
anything, even community my sadness for them.
! This often how I feel, I want to help, but can’t. Can barely even communicate how
I’m feeling, how I want to help, not give you money, but help. Currently trying to figure
out my role here, where can I help, how can I make a difference. Is sharing American
culture and learning about Ethiopian culture really accomplishing anything? Yes,
sometimes I think, it does, but often no. Sorry I can’t bring you to America. Yes, there
are good and bad things about America, and not everyone is rich and happy.
Sometimes one or the other. But personally, what I do know is that I’m living more
intensely, more purposefully, more. A quote from Paulo Coelho comes to mind recently
and is as follows: “An awareness of death encourages us to live more
intensely.” Seeing how Ethiopians mourn after a death is amazing. They mourn for 40
days straight, letting it all out. Crying, wailing, hugging. If I’m sad, I try my best to hide it.
I remember when Babby fell. I was in my dorm room and heard she was unconscious,
on breathing supports, tubes everywhere, unsure if she was going to live or die. Unsure
of everything, sad, deeply, I try to hold it together, and not let others know I’m sad.
Why? Just the other day I saw a group of 30-40 people carrying one person on a
stretcher, walking for hours toward Chiri. If that person died, they will mourn for 40 days.
MOURN for 40 days. All family, all friends will come sit at their house, bring food, bring
drink, hug, cry, just be there. Its amazing. Then they are done. They let it all out.
Rather than trying to shy away from death, I’m just going to try and live more.
And when I often feel useless, unhelpful, maybe I’ll help one person, and the other 199
volunteers in Ethiopia will do the same. And 200 will be helped. Not throwing money at
people, but spending time with them, because I can’t speak the languages yet, and I’m
learning about the culture, I’ve learned that my very presence is showing that I care. Not
telling people that I want to help, then doing nothing about it, but pushing myself to
understand and try. I know I can’t help a community in 3 months, or maybe even 2
years, but I wan to try, and hope I’m not alone in the act. As I explain about America, I
always think of the people that need help there, everyone, in one way or another. And
many people are there to help, and sometimes money isn’t enough, most times it’s
TIME that helps. Taking the time to help. And I also am realizing that things take time,
and I need to look at success in a different way, once again, to stay sane, and to be
realistic. Try like I’m going to change the world, and hope to shape one person.

 

Or maybe I should just stop worrying sometimes and enjoy the rainforest a little…

on my walk down to the next village tonight I had what I think was a simple epiphany, that my experience last year in City Year was so impactful, and difficult, and why this is going to be the same, because if I want to be successful, I must treat people like people, not objects. Objectifying people is so easy, especially in new and challenging environments, or even when my mood isn`t right. I think that`s what is hard. Treating people here like people, not labeling them as Ethiopian, or African, but getting to see them for people, and leading them to view me as the same. But for now, with the language barrier, they only see me as an American…some rich person who can dish out money resources… I understand, but its hard when they can`t get past it just yet. So for as long as I can, I will continue to try and treat people like people, which means understanding or trying to understand where the person on the other side of my conversation is coming from, even if it is from across the street, or another continent, or both. So continuing to mess up my language, slip and fall down in the road for the a good 30 people to see, or simply to show my frusteration and failures openly, but also to be honest about these experiences with the community I live in, I think this is how to show them I am a person as well.

Ethiopian Holiday Celebrations

For the last two days I celebrated the Orthodox Holiday Epiphany, known and celebrated here as Timk`et, in remote locations near historical churches here in Kaffa Zone. Friday afternoon everyone took a halfday as the celebrations began. The town was buzzing and I could feel the energy in the air, as well as see it as people loaded bus after bus to be brought to Baha as well as Kuti. Friday night I ended up going to Baha with Atinafu, Tesfahun, and Sinteyu. This was the bigger of the two celebrations where multiple different towns came together to celebrate. After catching a bus around 5pm, at this point, standing room only, we took the journey towards Bonga and got off in between the towns. Here is where the party started. The road was completely crowded; filled with people in traditional dress, singing songs, playing instruments and moving in masses down the road towards the valley. The view from the drop off point wasa incredible, looking for kilometers over the Kaffa cloudforest, incredible greens all around, and the excitement was incredible. Reaching the footpath we funneled our way down as one hour hike to the middle of the forest began, moving quickly with the momentum of the masses toward the celebration site. We reached a bridge that was made of logs and sticks to cross over the river that would later be blessed, swam in, and drank from, and did our best to force our way to the front of the line as well as not fall the 10 feet into the river (just a little added pressure as everyone made sure to watch the ferenji go). Finally reaching the site there were “rooms for rent” that were made out of palms and sticks, food and drinks for sale, music playing everywhere, and a big centerpiece where the church leaders would gather (i think). Getting here just before sunset, and a small lightening and rainstorm, was one of those scenes that it took a little while to sink in that I was actually at. Just as the rain stopped and the lightening was carrying on in the distance, the groups of people gathering around big drums to sing and dance to traditional songs, the now clear sky, and the overcrowded area, small fires placed around, and everyone moving one way or the other, I just paused for a few minutes and took it all in. I also noticed Big Dipper for the first time since being in Ethiopia, and it was really interesting in this moment of everything entirely new to me to see something so familiar. Anyways, as the night went on I borrowed Atinafu`s scarf and tied it over my face to hide the fact that I am not Ethiopian, and joined in the festivities. Jumping in the dancing circles, singing along, and feeling the songs they sang was so much fun. I pictured Katie just jumping in and having a good time the way she does, and doesn`t care, and did just that. At some points making it to the middle of the circle, and at others moving rapidly around the drummer in a large cirlce, just completely immersed in the moment. Man, that was fun. Moving from dancing circle to circle, singing “digona wobay” and other lyrics that I`m really not sure of the meaning, or perhaps they were meaningless, then from hut to hut drinking and eating, the night flew by. As we walked around there were tons of people just sleeping on the ground, taking a break, or waiting until the morning, and we did our best to step over or around them, and later, this would be us, just for an hour. At one point as we were sitting for a few, I saw this small animal, which I thought was a goat at first, but I was told was maybe some sort of fox or something, ran directly into a man sitting in the booth over, and scared the crap out of him, then ran further into the hut. As the man jumped up, first out of shock, then to chase and capture it, tons of people huddled around to look, including me, peeking through the palm made walls. This was hilarious, and as the man caught it and was then holding it like he was going to keep and eat it later, I think the police made him release it…or took it for themselves, I`m not really sure, again. The night was filled with fun, just enjoying even the smallest of events, such as the one guy who actually noticed I am white, as he was face to face, staring for about 10 seconds, then he slowly says “hey”, probably in amazement that someone foreign was actually there. I couldn`t help but laugh. However, the next morning when, in a overcrowded (by American standards) little coffee hut, the wasted man who saw me two days prior decided to sing a song on his little traditional instrument, while making a scene yelling towards, at, and all around me, gathering a nice little crowd over 20 or so extra onlookers, which abruptly brought me back to the realization that I was no longer unnoticeable, and back to reality. Nothing like it at 7 am.

Then we decided to beat the crowd and make the climb back up the mountain, which was seemingly never-ending and verticle, as well as blazing hot. Seeing as this was the most I have exercised since being in Ethiopia I thought I was actually going to pass out. However, we managed to make good time, passing tons of people so we`d be sure to catch a bus back to Chiri. Then as we finally got on the bus, it immediately got a flat tire. Then another when we got back to town. Despite the mix of events that morning, it further enhanced the randomness that always is.

Then I got to do it all over again in Kuti! Needless to say, I`m beat, and ready for bed. Great weekend though.

Needs, wants, and pride…

Welp, I have made it through the first 3 weeks in Chiri, and man have they been difficult…Every single day, hour, moment, my attitude can change, and the amount of ups and downs in difficult on me. Some times I’ve thought that maybe I can’t handle this, overwhelming myself to the point where I’ve thought about quitting, and at other times I’ve been proud of myself, and wouldn’t rather be doing anything else. These extremes are both important to me as I’ve realized that I’m being tested as a person. I’m going to find out who I am in every single moment, but then I’ve also realized that I always have been, just not as frequently and intensely. Every day I’ve made the decision to be who I am and who I want to be, but the space from every single thing, EVERY SINGLE THING familiar to me, has exposed me to myself, and allowed me to think about who I am and what I’m doing with my life.

I’m making slow progress on Amharic, and even slower progress on Kaffenono, but at this point, I geuss I can be happy with progress at all, and I should be…I haven’t given up. For 3 days I struggled terrible, couldn’t get myself out of a slump, and even though I was aware it was just a slump, it felt like it would never end. Then I remembered a conversation with a Volunteer who is now staying for a 3rd year, and said her longest slump lasted 3 months. I really hope I never experience that, but I also feel a little stronger having struggled that hard. I realized that I was excited to be here and was running on adrenaline for the first couple days, maybe weeks. But then it all caught up to me. I was trying to learn 2 languages, buy food at a crowded market where hundreds of rural people stare at me and crowd around as I try to buy food and not get ripped off, learn where everything is in town, who is who, and what my purpose is here. Sometimes I wonder what I’m even doing here, especially when I can barely communicate with people, and sometimes those whom I can communicate with have objectified me before we even speak, as a resource, for maybe English, maybe money. How am I supposed to make a difference on HIV/AIDS if I can’t even have a full conversation with people? Then I remember that 66% of PC’s goals is exchanging cultures and if I can just be myself, despite the language barrier, maybe I can make someone’s day better, or maybe I can do something, anything, and I don’t even know what that is. I guess the vagueness is what is challenging to me the most. Both in my life and language. In Amharic, one verb has multiple meanings in English. So trying to understand the feeling behind the language is a process, and understanding my purpose behind my title is another.

That 3rd day is when I realized I was living in terms of my wants, not my needs at the moment. I want to learn both languages, but what I need today is to learn 1 first. I need to remember to take one thing at a time, even if that’s addressing one set of eyes at a time that are staring at me from the moment I open my door every day to the minute I close it. This idea of my needs and wants started with the verb phonetically spelled mafaleg, which means both need and want. Then I thought of the high percentage of people who walk on these incredibly rocky roads all day, every day, barefoot. And then I thought of the house on the road between my village, Shashaman, and the other at the bottom of town, Caste, that has a huge pile of shoes, mostly rubber sandels and boots. The resources are there. People wouldn’t have to walk around with feet the size of footballs if they could just have one pair of those shoes. But they don’t have the money, and the people who are selling them, need the money as well, and probably can’t just give them away.

Last night I had conversation with Wale, my co-worker, who has great English and was giving me insight into the Ethiopian mind, from his point of view. And the main point led us toward needs, wants, and pride. And this is where my understanding of at least rural Ethiopians mindset is, as of now. That they are stuck. Stuck between poverty and pride. They need the money, need the help, but are too proud to show that they need it. Wale told me that a person may rather starve and be hungry than do work that is looked down upon, because he is the only one who knows he’s hungry. Meanwhile being prideful of doing good work. I’m still trying to think this through, and I’m sure I’ll only continue to build on this.

Until then I need to remember to only look forward and become comfortable with being uncomfortable in every way…

 

PST Eteya

PST Eteya

One of the other volunteers put this video together of our time in Eteya. 

Host Family

Host Family

From Left to Right: Turiey, Askale, Nebiyu, Gudeta, Senayit