Camp GLOW Mekelle 2015

Camp GLOW Mekelle 2015

*The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.

Our GIRLS RUN THE WORLD group photo
Our GIRLS RUN THE WORLD group photo

Camp GLOW is a program developed for Peace Corps volunteers to utilize throughout the World. Camp GLOW has been used in 60 Peace Corps countries. GLOW stands for Girls Leading Our World and is primarily a girl only empowering program. This program is designed to help develop girls to become leaders in their communities; because they are often oppressed and encouraged to be more submissive culturally. Boys are often more outspoken and assertive, and so girls have a more difficult time in school and other life situations.

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Boys and girls listening together

For our camp we decided to bring both boys and girls to empower both sexes towards a gender equal Ethiopia. To do effective gender work, both sexes must be present and this is a great platform to introduce many of these ideas.  Our hope is to help change perspectives in both boys and girls through the different programs. This year, I was Co-director with our friend Avak. Swathi (from Quiha our site mate) was the logistician, Jake was the monitoring and evaluation coordinator, and Chris was in charge of finances. To get funding for the project, we had to write a grant and send it to headquarters in Washington D.C. for approval. This allowed us to get about $4500 for the project. We also utilized funds from Wautoma’s Grace United Methodist Church congregation. All the adults volunteered their time for the whole week which helped our program be successful.

The QUIHA crew kids, Evan, Swathi, and me.
The QUIHA crew kids, Evan, Swathi, and me.

For our program, we brought 43 students from the more rural communities (where PCVs are located) around Mekelle that were aged 13-16. We had 13 Peace Corps Volunteers and each brought approximately 3 students. Each student had been selected through an essay style application. In addition, they have worked with the volunteers in each of the communities either in an English classroom/club, gender club, girls club, computer club, or through other programs. First, the volunteer thought that the students chosen would benefit from the program and also the student had to describe why they would want to participate in this type of program, and how they will utilize its information to help his/her community. We also had 8 Ethiopian counterparts from our communities who volunteered their time to help with the cause. We also invited 5 junior counselors who may have previously attended a camp, but are too old for the current program. We also invited 8 counterparts who worked with PCVs in their sites or past PCVs from the Mekelle area.

Evan and his black team getting pumped up for the next session
Evan and his black team getting pumped up for the next session

The camp focused on areas such as gender equality, healthy lifestyles, leadership, finances, family planning, nutrition, and building self-confidence. This camp used many activities from Grassroots Soccer curriculum to deliver messages about HIV prevention and life skills in fun and interactive ways.

Career Panel
Career Panel

We challenged gender norms from around the world and stuck to facts about sex and what culturally we place on each gender. We had a career panel later in the week that allowed students to ask questions to some role models from Mekelle area. We had professors of different subjects and a lawyer to answer questions for our campers. They discussed how to be successful in school, in work, and other important topics that the kids often don’t get to be inquisitive about. The campers really enjoyed having this opportunity, and I think the panelists enjoyed giving advice to the upcoming generation.

FACTS about HIV and life skill information
FACTS about HIV and life skill information

In the beginning we placed each camper in a color team. We had 4 girl teams with 6-8 campers and 2 boy teams with 6-8 campers as well. We tried to mix up kids from different communities so they would have the chance to meet some other new kids from other areas and back grounds. The teams were headed by a PCV and an Ethiopian counterpart and one Jr. Counselor. Each team had specific colored bandanas and we all wore our green shirts the whole week. The funny thing about the T-shirts is most Ethopian clothing is small for each size. So, we ordered a lot of mediums and larges, but they were actually true to size, and some of us ended up drowning in our larges!! These teams did most everything together from sessions to eating together at meal time. There was also a color team competition that resulted in one winner on the last day. They earned points daily by having cleaned their rooms, throwing garbage in the garbage cans, being punctual for all programs, going above and beyond by cleaning or helping someone else. They also lost points for breaking rules, throwing litter on the ground, leaving their belongings such as water bottles or notebooks laying around, or other unappealing behaviors. The kids were very competitive and it made the challenge fun. At the end of the week on Saturday morning, we awarded the team with the most points their prize, Snicker and Twix bars as well as bragging rights. It was great to see them working on professional behaviors without really knowing it.

Boys making bunna (coffee) totally goes against the gender norms here!
Boys making bunna (coffee) totally goes against the gender norms here!
more bunna making!
more bunna making!

Each day was designed about the same schedule wise. We had hired in a caterer to do all the cooking, which was nice, since none of us wanted to get sick. So, most days started with the kids getting ready from 6am until 7 and then heading to breakfast. We usually had egg sandwiches and fuul (a bean based mixture, like a thick bean stew) since most of our kids and adults were fasting (vegan eating) until Ashenda (a holiday that just passed this last weekend). After breakfast the campers headed to the soccer field to participate in a soccer based program designed after Grassroots Soccer (a South Africa based non-governmental organization developed to work on HIV prevention and life skill building through games and discussion) until 10 am. Then, they all headed back to the cafeteria and we had chai/bunna (tea/coffee) break with some belous (cactus fruit) and banana break for 30 minutes.

Evan and his talent
Evan and one of his many talents

Once everyone finished, they went to their first classroom session that lasted an hour and a half. Once complete it was lunch time for another hour and a half. We had “bayinetu” which is an Ethiopian dish that is all vegan and has approximately 5 different stew type foods that are primarily lentil based (it’s one of my favorites J ). Then, they headed to their next two classroom sessions (1.5 hours each) with a chai/bunna break in between. All this ending at 5pm so the kids could have an hour of free time before clubs. The club sessions went from 6-7pm and then it was dinner time. For clubs we had exercise club with Evan and Chris, cooking club with Natalie and Kirsten, creative/art time with Brianna, and Human Planet video with Jake. For dinner, we usually had rice, churro, or spaghetti with salad and injera for dinner, on rotation each day. After dinner they had 1 hour of free time with bedtime/lights out at 9pm.

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Egg race
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She’s about ready to take off for the egg race

During this hour we usually put on a movie to help the kids settle down and get into relax mode. Then, it was bedtime, and like any other teenager who has never been in this setting before, they did NOT want to be quiet or stay in their room at 9pm (this is when we had out nightly camp meeting). The kids got better each day with being quieter at that time and staying in their rooms until 6am. We would have our meeting to discuss how the day went, good/bad things, suggestions for the next day and we discussed anything else that was necessary. Then, it became our bedtime/free time. Most of us didn’t sleep until at least midnight to be woken up by kids at 4am the next day. We did put the kibosh on that early morning rising and told the kids 6 am is get ready time and any earlier means you cannot participate in the talent show (totally effective!). Thursday we had the talent show and Friday we had the end of camp celebration time. This was our typical day at camp (Sunday to Saturday).

Who's muscles are bigger? I think Yared!
Who’s muscles are bigger? I think Yared!
Friends forever! <3
Friends forever! ❤

Thursday’s Talent show was pretty amazing. We had kids prepare since Monday for this program, and even though we kept them pretty busy throughout the day, they still found time to put together these great programs. We had such a great variety it lasted almost 3 hours, and possibly could have gone longer if we would have let it. We had poems, drawings, paintings, and other creative works.

Boys at tug-of-war
Boys at tug-of-war

The kids developed amazing dramas based on what they learned and what they know of problems for Ethiopians. We had a drama about a girl who was in an early marriage situation by her family, but she ran away to Saudi Arabia to be free and find work. When she was there she was raped and beaten and contracted HIV and came back to Ethiopia for help. Then, another drama about a guard and some boys discussing how to tell if a person has HIV by appearance (very difficult) and how there are many myths about people with HIV and other myths surrounding the disease. There were also a lot of dancers who wanted to show off their moves, mostly Ethiopian dances, and some more hip/hop based dancing. We had Brianna and Evan each sing a song while playing guitar. It was a very special time, unforgettable, and heart felt.

Winta, one of our most outspoken girls, playing the role of a crank guard

Friday, our last real day of programming was pretty great. We started the day with a program developed fully by an Ethiopian counterpart about life skills. He does this session often at his job where he works with OVCs (orphans and other vulnerable children) and their caretakers in his community. After this classroom session, we had field day and a quiz bowl before the End of Camp Celebration. The field day consisted of games to help develop teambuilding skills and just have fun. They did 3 legged races, sack races, wheelbarrow races, limbo, tug-of-war, egg races, balloon toss, and others. Then, Quiz bowl was a lot of fun, it was a great opportunity to review the information they previously learned during the week. It was Jeopardy style and they were each in their color teams to compete amongst each other. It was a lot of fun and super competitive. Jake, Chris, and Ali were the judges and question givers, the most difficult positions I think.

Blue team, with my counterpart Kiros, figuring out the answer
Blue team, with my counterpart Kiros, figuring out the answer

They had questions ranging from 100-500 points each and with each higher point value for the question, the more difficult the question. We ended up having a winning team who earned points for their color team, but everyone was involved to hear and process the questions and answers. Once this fun was over, we had a little free time and dinner. We ended the night with an End of Camp Celebration. We made certificates for each person involved with camp and then we had special awards to give to specific campers. We had 3 for outstanding leadership, athleticism, arts/performance, and one from the Directors.

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Faven, one of our Quiha girls

We tried to pick them and keep them with more girl winners, because the boys sometimes are more outgoing and make it easier to notice their qualities. We involved all the adult leaders and made sure to get their input about the quieter leaders so we could bring recognition to them as well. The awards were given and then we had each color group come up with a word to some up a quality from camp they learned, and then put it on an outline of Ethiopia to signify the taking of these qualities into Ethiopia. The student also lit a candle to reflect they are the lights of the World, and will make a difference in each community they live and work in. After everything was complete, we had a short dance party that allowed the kids one more fun outburst of energy, and then it was bedtime.

All the Ethiopian counterparts and PCVs together one last time with our hand made tree!
All the Ethiopian counterparts and PCVs together one last time with our hand made tree!

Saturday was the end day and everyone went home. Many PCVs say that camp is a lot of work and it’s exhausting, but it is one of the most rewarding programs in their 27 months of service. Evan and I both would agree with this and we have both had some neat experiences in our services, but this was a highlight. I think the interaction with the kids and the teamwork between kids and the staff was just amazing.

Our goodbye souvenirs like year book signing. So many sweet notes
Our goodbye souvenirs like year book signing. So many sweet notes

We were blessed to have the adults who volunteered and the students who came, they made this week run as smoothly, even with the hiccups. Mekelle University was a nice location and allowed for the resources we needed. We also had different media outlets come to our program throughout the week. We had journalists, radio station employees, and a TV station come to do pieces on our program. This was a huge help from Desalegn (Mekelle area PC regional manager) and the U.S. Embassy, allowing the media and inviting them to the programs throughout Ethiopia.

The girl PCVs losing at tug-of-war
The girl PCVs losing at tug-of-war

When we finished up on Saturday, I think we slept for at least 12 straight hours two days in a row. It was great to have a nice rest after the program. We also got our little kitty, Nashef, after we were all rested up. He’s pretty cute and loving! He loves cuddling with us, sitting on our feet, and being a crazy kitten, terrorizing our family’s dog Bobie, it’s kind of funny.

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Bobie and Nashef, hanging out at our house.
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Nashef in his little sleep ball blanket

Thanks again to United Methodist of Wautoma for always being supportive through donations and prayers!! We are blessed to be a part of your community! ❤

Creating a Transitional Bee Hive with Friends

*The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.

Creating Transitional Bee Hive with Friends

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Ripening pomegranate fruit!!

During July we met an amazing group of unlikely new friends. They are Ethiopian nuns from the Catholic order in Mekelle who run a school and eye clinic. Since the main group of religious denomination is Orthodox (primary), Protestant, and Muslim, Catholic is the next most known denomination. If you are not the previously listed denominations, you must be Catholic. In Ethiopia we tell people we are Christians, but they do not know Methodist or Baptist etc. so we often keep our religious affiliation quiet so we aren’t affiliated one way or another. They were first introduced to our friends Chris and Jake, where they were asked to build a garden for the nuns at their compound. Evan went along to help with the garden building and got to know the nuns a bit better. They told the boys about having a bee colony and Evan offered to make them a transitional bee hive (one of his main projects). In doing this and switching from a traditional hive to a transitional hive, there would be many benefits for the nuns such as more honey production and easier access for collection. The nuns were pretty excited and so a few weeks later, all of us went to their compound and helped create this nice hive.

When arriving at the nuns compound, I was pretty amazed and in love. They had a nice variety of trees, flowers, plants, gardens, and other green things. Anyone who has looked at our pictures may have noticed Tigray (at least around where we live) is typically brown, dry, and not green. So, going to their space was great and refreshing. Also, the nuns are some of the sweetest, outgoing, and loving people we have met. They are great English speakers and they full-heartedly show their love of people through every action they do and every word they speak. They also have some pretty great senses of humor. We also noticed they had some beautiful pomegranate trees that were full of ripening fruit. They said that it produces a lot of fruit, but they don’t really like it. They gave us permission to come out when the fruit became ripe and pick as much as we would like. It was like heaven to us since that’s a unique fruit for us in Ethiopia, we mostly eat bananas.

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Measuring the frame for the hive

So, to start this day off, Evan, myself, and Birhanu had to get a bag of manure for the project. We were in Quiha and had to take it to Mekelle, about 25 minutes by public transportation. This doesn’t seem to difficult, right? Well, we only take public transportation, unless we are super lucky and we get a friend with a private car to help us out. This day we were on our own. Evan and Birhanu got the manure into a grain sack and started carrying it towards the main road to get a line-taxi. (This bag is heavy and is leaking manure juice!). They decide to pay some teenage boys to carry it for them. The boys say “okay” and start trying to take it towards the road until the manure juice starts to leak on his pants. Finally after ten minutes of this game, we get to the road and try to get a line-taxi. It’s

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Measuring the bamboo pieces for the bottom

Monday, so there is a huge market day in Mekelle and it’s difficult for us to get a taxi. Finally, Birhanu gets one to help us out and take us to Mekelle, even with our bag of leaking manure. We pay a little extra for the bag and get into Mekelle. Once there, we have one more obstacle, getting the manure from the Quiha line-taxi station to the nun’s compound (about 20 minutes away). We talk to a couple bajaj drivers (little blue taxis) to see if they will take us over there for a nice price (since we are white and have a bag of poop, we often get charged more for everything). Most of the drivers don’t want to do it since there is poop in a leaky bag, but finally one agrees who we have used before. He puts the bag on top and it pushes in part of his roofL. They are made of a cheap material on top, enough to keep the rain out, but that’s about it. We apologized for the mishap and he seems okay and not too upset, I bet that happens often. We have finally arrived at the nun’s compound nearly 2.5 hours later.

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Securing the wood in place to the frame through a knot process

At the compound there is Evan, Birhanu, Jake, Chris, myself, and one of the nuns, Zayid, working on the project. For the beginning of the hive, we had to get some “shimbucko” or bamboo like plants to make poles. We stripped the extra branches from the poles to make it as smooth as we could and then and cut them to the lengths required to make the shape of the transitional hive. Thankfully the nuns had this and most of the other supplies on site or had previously purchased what was needed based on Evan’s instruction. Evan, Chris and Jake cut some pieces of wood to make the frame to attach the poles to and get it nailed together.


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Making the frame for the lid
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Evan and Birhanu getting dirty with the manure mixture!

We then attached the poles to the wood with a wrapping style of string that would hold them in place well. This part usually takes a while, because it has to be tight so the poles don’t move. After this is complete on all sides and the bottom, the top/cover has to be made. Chris and Jake worked on this with some pieces of wood and nailed it together. Later, Evan put a piece of waterproof fabric over it to help keep the rain out and keep the hive insulated. During this part, the nuns asked us in for lunch. They provided a delicious lunch with salad, churro, cooked mixed vegetables, rice and injera. They also had anything we wanted to drink, soda, beer, water, etc. to help us be comfortable. It was a sweet family style sit down and help-yourself type of meal. After we were well fed, we were ready to do the fun part.

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Mixing in the other ingredients with their hands, “a shovel will not do the same thing!” per Evan

Evan, Birhanu, and Zayid worked together to mix the sand, manure, and ash to make the wall material. This takes some practice to make sure the consistency is correct, or the material will crack a lot and need to be re-filled in later. First, they just made a big pile on the ground and started mixing everything by hand, that’s the best way to make sure it’s the consistency desired. Then, they make a mixture that when it dries, it is hard and keeps the hive insulated. This same technique is often used for homes in areas of Africa where stone isn’t available to create the houses’ walls. Once the mixture is made, it is spread onto the structure and smoothed out by hand. Once everything looks covered, the hive is left to dry for at least a few days. Then, if any cracks are noticed, they are filled in and fixed. The bee hive colonies are transferred at night after the hive is well dried and the lid is in place.

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TEAMWORK
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Evan and Zayid finishing up the walls

We got everything cleaned up and set up the hive to dry on some cinder blocks. Zayid wanted to show her appreciation and took us out for juice in Mekelle. Juice here is such a nice treat. They take mango, papaya, pineapple, avocado, and others depending on what is in season and blend the fruit with a little water and sugar and layer it to fill the cup. It’s a bit thicker than a smoothie, so it’s nice to eat with a spoon. After this, Zayid and the driver took us back to Quiha as an end of the day thank you. It was a great end to a fun and productive day.

Evan got a call from Zayid maybe two weeks later and said their first hive went into the trees and started to make their own hive. When Evan and our friend Alex, our Ethipian bee expert, went to see what happened, the hive actually produced another queen and made another colony since the first was doing so well. The compound has enough foliage to keep maybe 50 bee hives happy Alex said.

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A job well done! The hive is complete and ready to dry!

We will continue to help the nuns in any capacity we can. They are running great programs with hearts for the people of Ethiopia.

Mid-Service Conference: Seeing Our Long Lost Friends

MSC Mid-Service Conference

Good afternoon friends and family. This post is about our latest trip to Addis and a Peace Corps program called Mid-Service Conference. If you remember back to August 2014 we had IST (In Service Training or Reconnect). This mid-service conference was a great mile stone for a lot of us. We were reflecting on the  first 16 months of service. So, that means we have approximately 11 months of service remaining. We were informed our first COS (Close of Service) date would be March 29, 2016 and would go until April 29, 2016! We have unfortunately lost about 12 volunteers from our group who either early terminated their service (chose to leave) or who were medically separated. We are very hopeful that no one else will leave early and will be with us at the end.

This is our group of G10s who made it to MSC!!
This is our group of G10s who made it to MSC!!

This conference was full of information. We were split again into health and environment groups where we received more technical trainings and ideas for upcoming projects. Environment (Evan’s group) went through trainings such as fruit tree management, forest trees, nutrition, GIS mapping, watershed management, and motivation and experience sharing. The health group went through WaSH (water and sanitation and hygiene), pregnancy and ANC, malaria, sexual health condom programming, HIV/AIDS discussion, and motivation and experience sharing. The groups together discussed changes to the PC Ethiopia programming and changes with policies. As one large group we discussed programs such as working with people with disabilities, school clubs, and income generating activities. It was a great time to boost motivation and hear what other people were doing at site. Some projects were working really well, and some were just the opposite. It gave us a great opportunity to be in the same place to talk openly and candidly about our experiences.

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Danny, Sierra (not pictured) and I making a Big Book about Malaria prevention with the people from the health sector.

There were a few reflective sessions that reminded us why we joined Peace Corps Ethiopia. This session brought about a lot of raw feelings and emotions that were apparently bottled up for many months. I know this was a difficult time for many of us and we were all at different points emotionally. Some really are enjoying their service, some wonder why they are here, and some feel their service would be better if … Ethiopia is known as a more difficult post for many reasons, but to add to that list the work ethic is just different here in some arenas. Sometimes it is really difficult to get projects going and when they do, to keep them sustainable, while some projects just take off with similar circumstances in different sites. It was nice to encourage one another and be able to empathize with everyone and our different points of mental well-being. The PC tells us a relatively accurate timeline of a PCV and the ups and downs that will come emotionally during our first three months of service. Experiences are different from one PCV to another, but our highs and lows can be very similar. Evan and I are super thankful we have one another to share these times and try to keep optimistic even when situations are not ideal.

A close up of some of our fellow G10ers!
A close up of some of our fellow G10ers!

We also discussed the bitter sweet topic of our COS (close of service) options. It was fun to talk about the end of service and everything that goes with it. We talked a little about extensions for a 3rd year in Ethiopia, and what that looks like for a volunteer and their prospective new organization to work with, applying for the non-competitive eligibility status with federal governmental jobs, and the Coverdell graduate programs. We all have different ideas of what our life will look like after COS, but first we must make the most of the next 11 months in our communities.

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Evan and I with our friend Jake at our chai/bunna (tea/coffee) break between sessions.

I think we all left MSC with many different perspectives in mind, some new, altered, or forgotten. Hopefully everyone has ideas of what they want their last portion of service to be like… productive and worthwhile, not regretful. Ethiopia can be a difficult country to live and work in, but overall this is a wonderful opportunity with abundant opportunities to be resilient and always life changing.

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Evan being Mr. Helpful as always, holding up some information for the group.

Thanks to all of you who have been supportive from the beginning and throughout. It really means a lot to us the thoughts and prayers, emails, FB messages, cards, care packages with our favorite goodies and necessities, and anything else that shows love and support. We are thinking of you all back home!! Here’s to the last 9 months 🙂

AGE Summit Addis Ababa, Ethopia

Miss Hayat Ahmed, a pilot for Ethiopian Airlines, a HIV/AIDS prevention advocate, and model.
Miss Hayat Ahmed, a pilot for Ethiopian Airlines, a HIV/AIDS prevention advocate, and model.

(The contents of this web site belong to me and do not reflect any position or policy of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps)

Hey everyone, we hope everyone is doing well and preparing for the wonderful Easter celebration. The Ethiopian “Fasiga” or Easter is next weekend for us, so we will have time together with our Ethiopian family here. Today’s post is about an important program the GAD Committee (Gender and Development) developed and took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The AGE Summit (Action for Gender Equality) program played out March 12-15 and was a blast, which corresponds with the Ethiopian Women’s 5K Run each year. I am the Partnership Coordinator and helped bring people and organizations from the to participate and help with the cause.

Discussion after a program.
Discussion after a program.

The whole program was a collaborative event with our communities. We brought in 40 high school students from Amhara, Tigray, Oromia, SNNPR to participate with Peace Corps Volunteers from their communities, as well as Ethiopian translators, the GAD Committee, and volunteers from other organizations. The PCVs were selected by submitting gender development sessions that they completed with their kids at their sites. The top 20 volunteers were invited to bring themselves and two students from their communities to spend 4 days in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The main goal of this program is create an unique opportunity for the youth to learn valuable life skills, build on gender issues and concepts in their own country, to explore life outside of their respective communities, and set realistic and attainable goals for achieving gender equality.

Coloring at the table while others arrive.
Coloring at the table while others arrive
Yegna performing at the race
Yegna performing at the race

There were many sessions led each day by volunteers and individuals from other Ethiopian organizations. One of the best and most fruitful session was the “Walk a Kilometer in Her Shoes,” which takes many “female only” jobs and has males complete these jobs as a relay race. The girls get to be the judges at each station and tell the boys when they can move on to the next challenge station. They start by having  a baby (some kind of ball) wrapped on their backs and wearing jelly shoes. They must first tie the baby on their back and race to the next area, peeling and cutting a potato and onion. Once this was complete, they must take their jerry can to fetch water. Once their container was full, they had to race over to the laundry station and wash a couple items of clothing. Meanwhile, they must keep their baby safe on their backs and keep their shoes on. After washing the clothes, they had to run back to their team and do a switch of the baby and shoes to the next male participant. The team to finish first was the winner. It gave the boys an idea of how difficult a girl/woman’s job can be everyday. Once both teams were finished, there was a great discussion about household chores and how time can be distributed for girls and boys. Each boy gave ideas as to how they could help their mom’s or sister’s at home so they would have more free time for hobbies or school work.

Walk a Kilometer in Her Shoes
Walk a Kilometer in Her Shoes

Some other sessions had more serious note that brought up many difficult questions. We discussed in different sessions sexual and reproductive health, proper condom use, HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness, gender based violence and street harassment (specific to Ethiopia and America), good and bad leaders and their qualities, career panelists that included many different successful Ethiopians in many different sectors, and others. Many of participants had great ideas and discussed openly about struggles they face and ideas to try and prevent barriers to their future success. They learned a lot from the different panelists and had great questions about jobs, qualifications, obstacles for each gender, and education type questions.

Tigist from P.S.I. NGO demonstrating proper condom application.
Tigist from P.S.I. NGO demonstrating proper condom application.
U.S. Ambassador Patricia M. Haslach giving a speech to everyone
U.S. Ambassador Patricia M. Haslach giving a speech to everyone

The Women’s 5K Run was a blast and a unique experience for everyone involved. This year 10,000 women participated in the race. There were many other men and women supporting us from the sidelines (and many men there just to look at all the women…). Before the race began, Yegna, one of the most famous girl bands in Ethopia that promote gender equality and women’s rights. It was AMAZING!! Every girl who has heard them here, LOVES them, including all of us!! Many people ran the race, including our own U.S. Ambassador and others. However, some of us walked and had time to catch up on life. At the end we all received a sweet medal and everyone wore it proudly. At the end there was an awards ceremony for Ambassadors from around the World, as well as Ambassador’s wives as well. Our U.S. Ambassador took 2nd place for the Ambassadors to Ethiopia. It was exhausting and the girls were a bit overwhelmed (many had never been involved in such a large event or having ever traveled to such a large city).

GAD Committee
GAD Committee
Girls with gender equality banner at race
Girls with gender equality banner at race

Our last large event was the Addis Ababa University tour. I know for many American’s this may seem like a normal thing to do, but here, there are no university tours like you would as a senior in high school. Many students choose universitites depending on word of mouth and websites (if they have internet access). So, this program was a sweet treat for them. This I had a larger hand in and planned everything with AAU staff. We had a tour set-up to visit Arat (4) Kilo Campus to see the male and female dorms and chemistry laboratories. The kids were unfortunately not impressed by the dorms and we were not able to go into the lab room (we didn’t have the stamped letter of approval, which is highly regarded here and is a must have, even though I was not told this in advance) 😦 Then, we headed to Sidist (6) Kilo Campus to see the J.F.K. Memorial Library and to participate in a career panel. The Library was amazing from the outside and impressive and the campus was pretty beautiful. After this we headed to the room where the career panel was taking place. We had 2 professors (1male and 1  female) and two female students. They talked about different universities, support services for males and females, application processes, and financial support. The students really enjoyed having this opportunity to ask these types of questions.

Running with LOTS of ENTHUSIASM!!
Running with LOTS of ENTHUSIASM!!
Everyone in front of the J.F.K. Library.
Everyone in front of the J.F.K. Library.

Then, the program came to a close, and everyone left Monday morning at 3:30 AM. The GAD Committee and a few other volunteers had breakfast together and called it a weekend. It as a great time for students to meet students from other areas of Ethiopia and also for PCVs to catch up with one another. We all learned a lot and enjoyed the time together!! We will start planning for the 2016 program this fall!!

Male PCVs supporting the girls.
Male PCVs supporting the girls.
Yep, I became a present.
Yep, I became a present.

Holidays and the beginning of the New Year 2015, a Recap

(The contents of this web site belong to me and do not reflect any position or policy of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps)

We were soooo close to them and they kept being so playful!! (Evan's an amazing photographer!!)
Red Colobus Monkies: We were soooo close to them and they kept being so playful!! (Evan’s an amazing photographer!!)

Since the last blog, our internet has been making it difficult to upload a new blog as well as us being CRAZY busy (which if you knew how it was for some here, you’d think we were nuts). It will allow us to partially upload it and then stop with the upload, the joys of the internet in a developing country.  It works out okay so now you will get a double dose quickly with hope that the internet will keep being functional at that capacity. Many different situations have been happening for us lately that have made things pretty great.

The local fishing boat can be pretty close at times to our swimming areas! (Chris, Jake, Evan, and Daniel)
Kendra Rocks beach: The local fishing boat can be pretty close at times to our swimming areas! (Chris, Jake, Evan, and Daniel)

First, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration at our regional office in Mekelle. For many volunteers, the holidays are the most difficult times and this is why many will go back to America for a visit. Since that wasn’t an option for us, we organized a fantastic potluck party with some friends. It was a hodgepodge type and delicious. Evan and a few other people took care of the chicken portion of the meal. They went to town and bought 8-10 chickens, beheaded them, plucked them, and then roasted them in this homemade cement block grill contraption. The rest of us made (from scratch) garlic mashed potatoes, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, garlic green beans, lettuce salad, guacamole, brownies, scones, chocolate chip cookies, cheese, meat, and crackers, and a veggie tray. We washed down the delicious food with some soda or water (no brandy slush or Sierra Nevada IPA available around here…). It was a gorgeous spread I must admit! It was also rewarding sharing the holiday with our new Ethiopian family members. We had a great time together and it helped with the homesickness many felt.

At our PC Regional office in Mekelle, Ethiopia
At our PC Regional office in Mekelle, Ethiopia (Adamma, PCV & Me)
Pumpkin soup (Jamie Minchin's delish recipe) and garlic green beans. We are very flexible and resourceful when the duty calls!
Pumpkin soup (Jamie Minchin’s delish recipe) and garlic green beans. We are very flexible and resourceful when the duty calls!

Second, our fantastic and much needed vacation to ZANZIBAR was AMAZING! This could be a blog post in itself, but I’ll try to sum it up with this one. We were celebrating Christmas, Evan’s 28th birthday, New Year’s, and Jake’s 30th birthday, so the time spent there was very special. Also, this was our first time visiting a destination that was white sands beachy, beautiful, lusciously green, and hot. We are definitely accustomed to colder weather, our honeymoon destination was Alaska, and typically prefer those types of climates. However, it was just amazing visiting Tanzania and then Zanzibar with our friends. The culture and people were very kind and spoke great English (that always makes things easier). The prices were reasonable and allowed for us to live freely without too much worry about spending too much money.

We were near the fresh fish market and this guy was taking a little snooze!
Zanzibarian vegetable vendor: We were near the fresh fish market and this guy was taking a little snooze!

We rented a house with 7 other PCVs from Ethiopia, one from Senegal, and a brother of a PCV from America. We had a house on the ocean with a pool and air conditioning. It was very warm there and had a high humidity percentage (in Ethiopia the climate is very dry in most areas). We had a great ratio of relaxation days at the house and tourist activities. We spent a few days and New Year’s Eve at the nicest beach in Zanzibar at the Kendwa Rocks Resort (totally recommended) where we met over 30 other PCVs from all over Africa. We spent a morning on a boat looking for dolphins, but only sharks were spotted by some other boaters (we saw nothing but water and more water). After that we spent some time in the Jozani Forest National Park where we came into close proximity with Red Colobus Monkies, which are endemic to Zanzibar, walked through a mangrove forest, and walked through a mahogany forest. We spent a nice chunk of day at the Mnemba Atoll where we went snorkeling. We saw some colorful fish that included: star fish, sand fish, puffer fish, many black sea urchins, and a lot of coral. The coral unfortunately was mostly dead except in some areas it was still flourishing. Many of these areas have been damaged by fisherman and boats that were naïve to their surroundings, or tourists who decided it was a great place to stand and fix their flippers… Either way it was a great first snorkeling experience for me and Evan’s second time snorkeling.

The many types of kababs to choose from for under $5s a piece, freshly caught that day!
Night fish market: The many types of kebabs to choose from for under $5s a piece, freshly caught that day!

We spent a couple days in Stonetown walking down streets enjoying many different flavors of gelato, many heavily Arabian influenced buildings, the night fish market where we were able to eat kebabs made of tuna, barracuda, shark, mahi mahi, octopus, and other sea food delicacies, some shopping at the different shops and spice market, and local artist art galleries.  The days we stayed at the house, we caught up on much needed relaxation time doing yoga, reading books, playing video games, relaxing in the hammocks, swimming in the pool, cooking/baking, playing cards, walking along the beach shore, and chatting with one another. Relationships grew and bonds were made stronger with each passing day. If anyone is seeking a great tropical beach destination in Africa, this would be a great one!

This was our view from the bungalow we were resting in. The beach and resort areas are gorgeous, with AMAZING Sushi!!
Kendwa Rocks Resort, Zanzibar: This was our view from the bungalow we were resting in. The beach and resort areas are gorgeous, with AMAZING Sushi!!

The vacation was a great break from our service that helped us feel refreshed and like ourselves again. It’s amazing what swim suits, a pool, a beach, abundant amounts of seafood and fresh vegetables, card playing, air conditioning, and general down time can do to bring to life a person’s soul. We all enjoyed ourselves and were ready to come back to site fully charged and genuinely happy. Our return was also much more enjoyable because of the overly generous bundle of beautiful cards, pictures, and sweet gifts from back home. All of your thoughts, gifts, and letters are always moving and appreciated greatly. So, thank you everyone who contributed to our Christmas collection of cards and things, we love & miss you all very much! It’s a great way to bring in the New Year and get us motivated for what’s to come at our home in Quiha.

This sister has been long lost for over 30 years, since prior to the Derg Regime and had just returned to her family this past year!
Maretsu (our landlady) and her sister: This sister has been long lost for over 30 years, since prior to the Derg Regime and had just returned to her family this past year!

Lastly, rolling into the 2015 year with great work initiatives and plans has brought a lot of happiness and feelings of achievement for us. Everything we have planned is a lot of work, but it will all pay off for everyone involved. I have been working with Peace Corps Ethiopia Gender and Development Committee to organize the AGE Summit (Action for Gender Equality) in Addis Ababa in March 2015. It is essentially a camp for 3-4 days where we work on gender equality, leadership skill building, and reproductive health, among many other things. I have been in charge of organizing partnerships with other organizations to support our initiative. We have been working closely with many non-governmental organizations as well as the U.S. Ambassador to make this a rewarding experience for our kids who attend. I will do a blog after the Summit that goes more in-depth. I was also voted camp director for the Mekelle area. In August we will put on a week long camp GLOW (girls leading our world) that focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention, leadership, nutrition, gender equality, family planning and other important issues. Camps and programs such as these are very uncommon except when PC volunteers get together and organize them. It does cost a bit to fund, and so this is not common for kids to go to camp during the summer for a couple of weeks, it’s really an unique experience. I’m super excited for these different opportunities to help me be effective during my service.

My counter part Kiros and her daughter Selam. She really is like my Ethiopian mother... always looking out for good deals and inviting us over.
My counterpart Kiros and her daughter Selam. She really is like my Ethiopian mother… always looking out for good deals and inviting us over for coffee and food.

I am also doing a Girls Skillz program through Grass Roots Soccer organization. I had done a training in Bahir Dar about 5 months ago that helped us work through this program that focuses on girls and life issues. It incorporates soccer skills/drills and health topics including HIV/AIDS prevention, life goal steps, leadership building, reproductive health, family planning, and others. It’s a fun program and the girls don’t typically get included with the boys play soccer here, so it’s a great opportunity for them.

Friend of the family: making supper in the makeshift kitchen for everyone.

Evan has so many things in the work as well. He is really taking advantage of every opportunity in our site. He has been working himself out of a job with the transitional bee hive trainings (there is an article about it on his FB page). He previously did such effective trainings; his office has now taken over the program and is ensuring it’s sustainability within the Enderta Woreda. Evan helped with a training in the last week to ensure 130+ farmers were constructing their hives correctly, but the 3 day training was facilitated by the office’s bee hive expert. This is a huge step for the agriculture office and for Peace Corps. Our main goal is to ensure all of our programs are sustainable and use capacity building to allow Ethiopians to take these programs and keep them moving forward! Also, every Sunday, Evan has an exceptionally full environmental club, “Club Wild” where the focus is on wildlife and environment conservation. He has been teaching the students about wildlife in Ethiopia (which does not include dogs and cats as many believe) and what has to be done to ensure their survival in this country. The kids love his club and keep coming each Sunday to see what he has to teach them. He has also been working with a professor at Mekelle University to organize a mammal survey/study in the Enderta Woreda. For many years, wildlife has been low on the priority list for Ethiopia as a whole, but now wildlife conservation and environmental projects are becoming more popular. There will be more on these things to come in the future.

One of our best friends Birhanu and his sweet mom, sister, and other family.
One of our best friends Birhanu (back row left hugging his niece) and his sweet mom, sister (far right), and brothers.

So, until next time… If anyone has any questions or if you are particularly interested in certain aspects of Ethiopia or our life, let us know. We would love to share information that maybe we have missed on the blog or shared among FB or other conversations. You can email me or Evan or send us a FB message. ❤

At the PC office before we had our great dinner!
At the PC office before we had our great dinner!
Our Ethiopian siblings: Nihom (age 11), Rashan (age 7), and Fawna (neighbor age 6)
Our Ethiopian siblings: Nihom (age 11), Rashan (age 7), and Fawna (neighbor age 6)

Tigray Trek: Getting to ZERO

Our logo for this year's Trek
Our logo for this year’s Trek

Wow, so we finished up the Tigray Trek the middle of September (it has been a crazy while for us here!)This is a pretty interesting program in its second year of existence. The program focuses on getting Ethiopia to Zero for HIV/AIDS. This year it was Getting to Zero Tigray Trek 242. The 242 is 242 kilometers that the volunteers will run for the program. Along the way, the runners will stop in pre-selected cities to complete sessions for the cause. The sessions are primarily focusing on HIV type topics. The sessions were all led by Peace Corps volunteers and their counterparts. Some of the sessions included container gardening, nutrition, safe sex practices/HIV prevention, a community health fair, a 5K run for a healthier 2007 Ethiopian Calendar, WaSH practices (water, sanitation, and hand washing), and others. All the sessions were given to general members of the community to HIV patients or mother groups. Many of the participants are part of the most at risk population groups (typically HIV positive, PMTCT mothers (Preventing mother to child transmission groups), and others.

This is majority of the runners and session leaders.. Evan and I were probably at site, awaiting their arrival!
This is majority of the runners and session leaders.. Evan and I were probably at site, awaiting their arrival!

There was a group of about 20 runners who started and completed the run. Many of the runners had been training for quite some time with running, Insanity, and P90X workouts. They had a great set up to encourage safety and decrease chances for injury. They rented a huge bus to hold all the participants and extra gear. The plan that they developed was to stop every 5K to let all the runners catch up, eat a snack, drink some fluids, and rest if needed. They also had a few bikes to allow for those who couldn’t run anymore that day to ride along and encourage the runners while watching for traffic. A few of the bus riders were also for media. They took some amazing photos, provided well needed encouragement, and updated our Facebook site for the Trek updates, among many other media initiatives.

On average, the runners ran about 34 kilometers per day. Some days involved shorter runs, but the mileage was made up on other days that may have been 40-45 kilometers. They typically began their runs around 5:30 am and finished between 12-3:00 pm.

They started in Atsbi on Friday September 12th, where our friend Brianna completed a session on container gardening and nutrition for PLHIV (people living with HIV) group. Her agriculture office donated chickens to help with the cause. Saturday morning, the runners headed off towards Wukro for another great session day. In Wukro, Adrien and Katie created a previously planned health fair. This was pretty sweet and involved many wonderful booths. The volunteers did face painting, condom demonstrations, and safe-sex practice talks, among others.

Then, Sunday morning the group ran to Mekelle. In Mekelle, they were able to rest up a little extra because the planned session for that afternoon was moved to Monday morning. Hannah in Mekelle worked with the Tigray Regional Health Bureau to organize a 5K run through Mekelle as a kick off for a healthier 2007 (Ethiopian New Year is the Gregorian Calendar September 11, 2014 this year). So, Monday morning all the runners got up and ran a 5K in Mekelle at 6:30 am. Around 11:00 am, all the runners ran from Mekelle to Quiha, which is ALL up hill to Evan and my little town.

We had a nice welcoming party to root on the runners as they came into Quiha from Mekelle.
We had a nice welcoming party to root on the runners as they came into Quiha from Mekelle. These are our kids we see every day in our neighborhood.

Once they arrived and had lunch, Evan and I completed out session at H.E.W.O. Hospital. We had inpatient participants who were suffering from leprosy and HIV. My counterpart, Sister Kiros, and I did a nutrition based session focusing on balanced meals with the food pyramid and “rainbow plates.” The patients loved this because we gave them colored markers and let them draw a healthy and diverse meal plate. Since typically many Ethiopians eat the same food 3 meals per day (churro with injera) they are often lacking nutritionally and calorically. We emphasized the importance of eating balanced meals to ensure no deficiencies or malnutrition. Evan’s session was right after mine out in the center of hospital grounds and he complete tire gardens. Many of the patients have a difficult time obtaining an income, and food can be very expensive with very little income.

So, Evan and his counterpart, Alex (an awesome Ethiopian who focuses his efforts on bee hive development with rural farmers) focused on the great benefits from small gardens. Many Ethiopians do not have a lot of land, or any at all, only cement areas, and need to use local resources to make smaller gardens. It was awesome seeing the patients (many of which have had toes, fingers, feet, and hands amputated related to the leprosy) work away at the material for the tire gardens. It was really great seeing them be empowered and successful in this fun project. The volunteers, Evan and I, the participants, and hospital staff had a lot of fun doing these sessions!

Tuesday morning the runners began their long stretch to Hiwane. This is about 40 some kilometers from Quiha. This was a city no volunteer lived in, so I was designated for this site. My counterpart and I organized a WaSH session for mothers in the community (some with HIV, and some who do not). We had a great time with over 40 mothers and their children. It was so rewarding having the mothers there to be outspoken and so knowledgeable about the contamination cycle (fecal matter somehow getting into our bodies and making us sick…).

Something that is interesting and important to teach during our WaSH  programs. Just think about it... it does happen!
Something that is interesting and important to teach during our WaSH programs. Just think about it… it does happen!

Wednesday all the runners went to Adi Shuoh. This was another site that did not have a volunteer, so Lizzie, the Trek director, completed a session with PMTCT women on preventing unwanted pregnancy. This was a great session as well because many risk factors are already included with pregnancy in Ethiopia related to its health care infrastructure and the culture itself. Lizzie discussed safe sex practices, discussing family planning options, mitigating discussions with spouses (husbands) who do not want to use family planning, and other really important reproductive health discussions. (Many women in Ethiopia, especially in the rural areas have little to no education, maybe up to 4th or 6th grade it that, and are typically managed by their husbands. This trend is changing with a recent law for all children to go to school). Go gender equality and empowerment for women!

Thursday started with a run to Maichew and a great session to follow. Lizzie did a session on nutrition, similar to mine, and Jake did a session on container gardening with PLHIV association. This again helps with the family need for a diversity of food without a large income.

Friday was the last run for the group to Korem. Chris and his counterpart created a container gardening program as well. There they utilized locally available resources such as highland/water bottles, jerry cans, tires, and other containers to create mini gardens that are productive and helpful for these families.

The runners out in front of the more hilly/mountainous portions of the run.
The runners out in front of the more hilly/mountainous portions of the run.

Once the session was completed, the runners and support personnel stayed in Korem for a night and headed back to Mekelle to get connected with their buses or flights to go home. It was a nice time for everyone because this great program was completed and we were able to spend some more time with our friends who don’t live near to us. It was physically and mentally trying on everyone involved, but I think it made a great impact for those who were involved! Again, check out the Facebook page for more photos and information from those who were actually on the bus and road doing the hard work! A huge round of applause goes out to every single person involved with the Trek; it wouldn’t have been a success without all the participation!

Just a great view from the Trek running path.
Just a great view from the Trek running path.

Until next time friends and family, we miss you and hope you like our installments. We hope you are encouraged and influenced to do some volunteer work within your OWN community to make it a better place, especially because there are people in need everywhere.

Most of the kids here are adorable, except the ones who throw rocks at you.. this one did not throw rocks!
Most of the kids here are adorable, except the ones who throw rocks at you.. this one did not throw rocks!

Who Likes an Excuse to Visit a Big City?

Training and Time with Our Friends in Addis Ababa

This is how we roll....
This is how we roll….

Good afternoon to our friends and family, we sure miss you all!!! We have just finished up our IST (In Service Training) in Addis Ababa. We had over two weeks of extra trainings to help us be more effective in our roles as Peace Corps Volunteers. The first week was all of the PCVs in a hotel for a time of reconnection. It was great because we had many different trainings during the day, but at night we were able to go get dinner together and catch up. We stayed at the Ghion Hotel in the Bole area of Addis Ababa and it was pretty nice. Evan and I stayed in a bungalow type room (almost as cool as it sounds 😉 ). There was a nice pool and a mini carnival type area behind the hotel, there was even an electric bull. This hotel caters to many foreigners who come in to Addis. The hotel also hosts many conferences for Ethiopian politicians and government workers.

Beautiful scenery at Ghion
Beautiful scenery at Ghion
Bungalow at Ghion Hotel
Bungalow at Ghion Hotel

The health sector had additional training on nutritional programs, youth services, reproductive health in the Ethiopian context (some subjects are quite taboo), HIV/AIDS education, and others. Evan had additional trainings on bee keeping, container gardening, and eco-friendly mud-stove making. Together we had trainings on soap & salve making, and different tea type preparations. These were the fun trainings we had through IST that will be easily implemented at our site.

Me and the girls, and some boys making soap with rosemary!
Me and the girls, and some boys making soap with rosemary!

The agriculture/environment sector was also able to go visit Holeta (Ethiopia’s main research area for bee and hive education) which is near Addis. At that location, they made transitional bee hives to move away from traditional hives. Both types utilize local resources and are beneficial to Ethiopia’s honey production. The transitional bee hive type allows for a lot more honey production without spending as much money on equipment, since they are typically made with local resources. Another helpful training was compost toilet making. Since open defecation is quite a problem here and in many developing countries, movable shint bets were created. Plainly, a hole is dug about 1.5-3 meters into the ground, a wooden frame borders the hole for standing and elevation, and then a protective/privacy covering is made. Once the hole is filled almost to the top, dirt is put into the hole to top it off and a tree is planted in the hole (usually a tree with long extending roots). The roots absorb the harmful parts of the excrement to make the tree grow quicker and to make the soil safe. The whole process will be repeated again and again as needed.

Evan and his friends after finishing the bee hives in Holeta
Evan and his friends after finishing the bee hives in Holeta
Outside of the Ag/En compost toilet
Outside of the Ag/En compost toilet

Another major part of our combined trainings included program design and management development. The second week of our training included every volunteer’s counter-part, the Ethiopian individual who works side-by-side with us on many projects as a community liaison. The program design and management training helped us with a general goal or idea for our community and go through specific steps to see how this could possibly be implemented in our community. The steps really helped us see if the project and its’ indicators (the mini-goals or short-term goals) are feasible and what resources are needed. We were also given training together on community mobilization. This was great because going into a different community and not knowing it as well as our own can make for many miscommunications. It also helped with getting community stakeholders involved to help make the project sustainable.

Evan and Yohannes at Ghion Hotel
Evan and Yohannes at Ghion Hotel
Sister Kiros (my counterpart) receiving her certificate for completion of training!!
Sister Kiros (my counterpart) receiving her certificate for completion of training!!

For two days in our last week of training, the program separated the liaisons and the PCVs. Our liaisons had fun in their separate trainings (we had them previously in PST (pre-service training). They had trainings on permagardening and container gardening, which utilizes local resources in a sustainable way to create feasible gardens. Many families in Ethiopia only have small areas that they may share with other families. Typically these compounds are all cement and do not allow for a large garden. The container gardening idea is very useful for those families.

Tire container gardening with Peter Jensen
Tire container gardening with Peter Jensen
More Peter, PCVs, and liasons.
More Peter, PCVs, and liasons.

The training week ended with our liaisons going home and Evan and I staying in Addis for a couple more days. During this two week period, we also had committee nominations. Every G# (we are G10) of PCVs elects individuals to fill the spots in the given committees as they fit. We have 5 different committess, PSN (peer support network), VAC (volunteer action committee), PAC (program action committee), GAD (gender and development), and CCC (cross cultural committee). We all have to either do an application or give a short speech if we would like to be on a committee. I wanted to be on the GAD committee, and thankfully was elected as one of the members with my friends Bethany, Nikil, Trey, and Ryan. Most of the groups took so many from environment and so many from health. I’m really pumped for the upcoming time to incorporate gender equality trainings and women empowerment messages in our community (there will be more to come on these issues, because there’s a lot of exciting things going on and I think you all might like it  ).

Bunna with tenadom. P.S. coffee is almost ALWAYS ONLY made by females...
Bunna with tenadom, and coffee is almost ALWAYS made by females…

 

Addis is an interesting place. It is like many large cities in America and with that has its perks and its downsides. When we go to Addis there are always a lot of great diverse foods to be eaten and fun times with friends. There is a diversity of foods such as Korean, Chinese, Thai, Indian, German, American, Mexican, and others. We really appreciate these differences since at site it’s often the same types of food! One of our favorite places is Cupcake, which has great regular food and delicious cupcakes and cake. Our favorite is the “Choconut” cupcake, which is a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting!! There is also this little shop that has homemade ice cream. They typically pair this yummy ice cream with a couple homemade brownies and hot fudge or caramel on top. I think if we lived in Addis we would come back a little bit frumpy!

Delish Pesto Mozz Panini from Cupcake!!
Delish Pesto Mozz Panini from Cupcake!!

 

Hope this gives you a little insight to this great time in Addis with our friends. We really had a great time, but it was really nice to get back to our Quiha. It really has become our home and we miss it and our Ethiopian family. Now we are a little more prepared to get going on some projects and utilize the information we were given.

Cookies N Cream ice cream and double brownie chocolate!
Cookies N Cream ice cream and double brownie chocolate!

Until next time!! Lots of hugs ❤