Triple Bummer

Another week has come and gone. We have settled into routine. The only thing is that some of that routine is quite odd if we stop and think about it. Every evening we wait for the water to come on. Every other evening or so we need to fill the barrel that we store water in. After I shower (if the water comes on in time) I fill a basin with hot water and sit in front of our wardrobe in the bedroom which has the only mirror in the house so I can shave. We both wake up early, before 6am and we’re out the door shortly after. Nolana doesn’t arrive home until almost 7. Friday Nolana has off but as she always tells me, it’s not really off. She does the laundry by hand (which is no easy feat), she does the grocery shopping and cleans. Sometimes surviving a week seems like a challenge!

Nolana has been doing great at the hospital. She did a major presentation this week on wound care and said she got a great response and some changes made so she feels a lot better knowing that she is making a difference there. School has been up and down for me. Last week we lost the other foreign teacher and soon we are losing our other English teacher (she is Nigerian). So I will be solo for a while. I interviewed a fellow from the UK and he is coming but won’t likely be here for another month. But they love me here and would stand on their heads if I asked. I love the teaching, at least most days! It has been a great growing experience so far.

Nolana also had a great opportunity confirmed this week. The Place (a church in the homeland that we attended) has a partnership with a small town here in Ethiopia and Nolana is going to join with their group when they come in November. I am so jealous that she is getting to go out of the city and see the rural life and help out there. It will be an amazing experience. The downside to all this is that I’m going to be alone here for 1 weeks! WHO’S GOING TO DO MY LAUNDRY!! Just kidding, but it will be really quite odd. And I will miss her like crazy. This summer we were apart for the first time for a couple days and now 1 weeks. And the double bummer… it’s over our anniversary! But I told her there was no way she wasn’t doing it because it will be great. Did I mention I was jealous? It will be exam week here so I will be swallowed up with grading. Triple bummer.

Well, that’s that. We are meeting more great people though we have yet to connect with people our age. They’re just not that common here. But we’re hoping soon. Not that we don’t love all the older people you just need someone to connect with you on that level. We’re thinking of you all back home and send our love.

One of the many donkeys.

A sunrise on Nolana’s way to work.

Two of Nolana’s little patients. One with a cleft lip to be fixed and one already fixed.

Some pretty typical Ethiopian food.

The walkway to the old Emperor’s palace where there is a museum now.


God is Good, All The Time!

Well, last weekend I was beginning to feel a bit frustrated at not having somewhere to volunteer here. I had the one mother child hospital that was too slow and had no patients and was not in need of my help. And I also had a bunch of other possible opportunities but nothing was actually happening with any of them. Then we went to the other international church on Sunday. We were walking there and we actually got picked up on the way by an American couple who stopped and asked if we were going to the church and gave us a ride. On the way we were talking and I said I was a nurse looking for an opportunity to volunteer and I found out they worked at a hospital. The hospital is called Myungsung Christian Medical Center . It is a hospital that is supported by a church in Korea and is run by Koreans. It has some Korean volunteers but is mostly staffed with Ethiopians. The couple both work there, she worked as a dietician and he works in Human Resources and part of his job is to get N. American influence in the hospital. What do you know! Thye have been working there for 2 months but have lived in Ethiopia for 7 yrs. There is also a doctor from England here for a few months and a nurse from Seattle who just started there 1 month ago. She is working in labour and delivery and NICU (newborn ICU) working with the nurses to better the nursing care.

Okay, so I met the couple on Sun and made a meeting ot go on Mon am to check out the hospital. I went on Mon for 4 hours, toured around, met all the head people and got the okay to volunteer there. So I spent Tues, Wed, and Thurs there.

I am going to work on the surgical unit and the emergency room working with the nurses to better their nursing care. I spent Tues in meetings and touring around more with the head matron (head nurse) who is Korean and then in the afternoon I spent with Judy (the American nurse) in the NICU (which I loved and am seriously considering specializing in if we ever settle down in Canada ). Then Wed and Thurs I just observed on the surgical unit and took a lot of notes. I really have my work cut out for me. The nursing care needs so much work. What is scary is that this hospital is known for having the best nursing care in the country so that says a lot.

I was feeling a really overwhelmed by Thursday not knowing where I would start with these nurses but I just have to do one step at a time and I think that the most important thing to do first is build relationships with the nurses so they are willing to hear what I have to say.

So I will be working at the hospital Mon to Thurs from 8-5. The hospital is on the complete opposite side of town from where we live. Judy lived 20 min walk from my house though as well as another guy who works at the hospital. In the morning I leave at 6:15 and walk to Judy’s where the 3 of us get a ride most of the way to the hospital with a guy who works for Food for the Hungry. Then we walk the rest of the way to the hospital stopping for breakfast and coffee on the way. We take a contract taxi home. I will take that sometimes cause it gets me home sooner (6 or 6:30ish. It is expensive though so sometimes I will take the minibuses which takes longer and gets me home around 7. So it ends up being a long day. That is why I will do 4 days a week. Then Friday is my house work day. I will clean and grocery shop and do laundry on Friday.

So that is what I am up too. I am so happy have found something that is perfect fit for me. I know it will be challenging for me but I am excited to see what kind of a difference I can make there. It really is a perfect fit for me because they are used to having foreign staff and are wanting that influence. It is also nice to have another nurse there to be able to talk to. She is retired so she has lots of experiences and it is nice to be bale to share our struggles with working here. I look forward to the next 9 months there!

Thanks for reading my long post (assuming you got to the end of it)!


Random Chaotic Bits of Ethiopia (‘cause that’s what it’s like)

In the morning when I walk to work it always smells of burning. I think it might just be the charcoal ladies but more likely is that they were burning garbage.

Internet in this country drives me nuts because it’s so slow… that’s when it’s working.

There is a lady who lives under the underpass on a pile of dirt and cardboard. Sometimes she breaks out two plastic water jugs and starts beating them together, smiling a big toothless grin.

Kids always want to come up to you and shake your hand. Sometimes their hands are wet.

Beggars don’t annoy me, I just feel sad for them. People who are walking normally down the street and then when they see me stop to beg me for money – they annoy me.

If I pay more then a dollar for lunch, I have spent too much.

Avocadoes are a very popular fruit here. And now mangoes are out of season so we are sad.

I am certain one day I will be walking down the street and see a shirt from my high school. I have seen them from other schools, every major city in the U.S. and the a few gas station shirts. Wonder where shirts no one wants go? To Africa !

I have yet to be pick pocketed.

It can rain here like nobody’s business. It will be sunny and then the clouds will roll in and the skies will open. Usually just for 30 min or less but it rains cats and dogs. The streets get flooded and yesterday I saw a truck stuck in water past the wheel wells. One time we had hail and it was like snow in Ethiopia ! They were trying to sweep it off the ground….

I gave my first test and most of the class failed. They say test remarks reflect the ability of the teacher…

When I walk to work I have to dodge goat droppings and donkeys. Last week there was a herd of 30 or so walking down the road that I couldn’t pass. Oh yeah, and I almost got ran over by a cow with big horns.

I am writing this while waiting for internet pages to load. And while it rains.

There is a golf course near to my house. It makes me laugh to think of one of the people I pass on the street playing golf. They say it’s pretty much foreigners there. And if I can get a cheap membership I just might join them. Who would have thought I would have golf in Ethiopia ?

I kinda miss the food in Korea . All that spicy goodness…. Mmmmmm.

But I miss all you people back home even more!!!


A Month in Africa

We’ve been here a whole month already! It’s kind of amazing to think of. Only 3 months ago we were in Korea . Then almost a month in Malaysia , a month at home and now a month living in Ethiopia ! So many changes and things to adjust to.

We’ve met so many good people already. Our neighbors Zerfay and Tena are extraordinarily friendly and often have Nolana over for lunch and coffee. Even though they don’t speak a lot of English it’s enough for them to get along pretty well. We’ve also met, through them, Messfin who is a nursing student and has been so friendly. He’s taken us to a couple international churches, offered to take Nolana to the hospital he works at, etc… The teachers at school, the people we met at church, everybody is very friendly here.

We were talking with Messfin today and I had a sudden realization. We were talking about how much a nurse makes here and he said maybe between $80-$200 dollars a month. This is after 4 years of school. On a super stat holiday, like Christmas Day, Nolana might make $75 dollars an hour. It seemed like such a silly amount when you hear what they make here. And then it hit me, that when someone like World Vision says that a dollar a day makes a big difference, it’s for REAL. $30 a month could be a third of a trained professional’s salary. For a lot of people here they live on less than that dollar a day. It makes a lot of things back home seem rather exorbitant.

We’re growing in confidence here and can get our way around to a lot of places now. The way we get around most of the time is mini-vans which run a certain route like buses. They fit anywhere from dozen to 20 people in a rickety old van. Sometimes they break down. We’ve been in one when the tire blew. They’re anywhere from 6 cents to 30 cents depending on how far you go. They are bumpy (that’s usually more the road’s fault), squishy and smelly but they do the trick. In comparison, a regular taxi might cost between $3-$7 dollars or so.

Well, we’re doing swell and feeling proud of ourselves for adjusting so well to the extreme changes that Ethiopia is. Thankfully we’ve met some great people, we have great people back home supporting us with prayers, emails, etc… and we’ve been able to find some small pleasures to treat ourselves with.

Here are some pictures from our life here. The first is Nolana doing wash in our kitchen. We have to wash all our laundry by hand which is a huge chore. Nolana is going to have huge arms when we get back!

The second is of Nolana roasting coffee beans at our neighbors place. She often goes over there for coffee and one time they dressed her up in Ethiopian clothing and she raosted and made the coffee.

Lastly is a few friends (including our neighbors) over for a dinner where Nolana made yummy spaghetti. Our living room is pretty well set up but that is our only table!

I’ll try and post again soon!