Monday, September 30, 2013

Man on the Road

I had an interesting experience with a couple of friends the other day. We were walking along the sidewalk and saw a person laying on his side in the middle of the road shaking. Cars and Bijajs' were driving around the guy and no one seemed to be moving to help him. One motorcycle passenger said a phrase in Amharic and waved his hand over the man as he drove past. We approached and saw that the man was having a seizure. We did a quick assessment and decided to lift him up and carry him off the road. There was a small group of people that were gathering to see what was going on and as we carried the man to the sidewalk, someone motioned for us to set him down in the shade. His seizure continued as we set him down in the shady area. As he shook and foamy saliva kept issuing from his mouth and pooling on the ground, we noticed that he was continuously taping his pants pocket. One of the members of the crowd that was gathering reached into the man's pocket and withdrew a pack of matches. He then lit the match close to the man's face and blew the flame out so that the smoke went up the man's nostrils. Immediately the seizure stopped and the man sat up. Once we were sure that the he was okay, we continued on our way. None of us are exactly sure what happened. It was Meskel weekend (a very religious holiday for Orthodox Christians) and maybe it had something to do with that. One of the people I was with is a doctor and said that there is no way that someone could come out of a seizure that quickly. Who knows what it was all about, but it added an interesting twist to our day.

Below is a view of the Piazza at the centre of Hawassa. This is really a beautiful city.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ethiopian holiday

This is a holiday weekend in Ethiopia for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. Here it is called Meskel and it signifies the finding of the True Cross by Queen Helena who had a revelation in a dream and asked the people to build a large bonfire. The smoke from the fire, rather than rising into the air, followed closely to the ground winding its way through the mountains and valleys eventually pointing to the spot where the True Cross had been buried. All of the larger cities in Ethiopia have a square that is called Meskel Square and every year the Orthodox Christians light a huge bonfire there to commemorate the finding of the cross.

The picture below is the reason that I am here (these kids actually demanded that I take their picture). The education system here needs a lot of work, but the Ethiopian government is actively trying to fix the issues. I think Ethiopia will be a very different place in 8-10 years. There is an absolutely massive development push and if it works, Ethiopia will be a very strong player in the world market. I am quite proud to be a part of the countries transformation. Incredibly friendly, positive and helpful people.


Just thought I would throw this in. This little character was very interested in showing me how much better his feet are than mine.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Home Sweet Home

I have finally reached my home in Hawassa. It is a beautiful little town of approximately 250,000 people right beside Lake Awassa. The differences between Hawassa and Addis Ababa  are immediately obvious. The pace is a bit slower, the air is a lot cleaner, and wildlife abounds. I have only been here for a little over a day and have seen monkeys, many large and small birds that I have yet to learn the name of, and a hippopotamus. You can see a picture of my home below. The community here is very friendly and last night I was out for dinner with a large group of new friends from all over the world (Ethiopia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, England, Korea, Japan, Canada etc). If my initial impressions are correct, I will be very happy here.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A taste of Canada

I am currently in Addis Ababa going through the In-Country training with VSO. I will be heading to Hawassa on Wednesday. So far Ethiopia has proven to be incredibly friendly and fun. There are really incredible people here. I have been learning Amharic for the last few days and have made the commitment to be conversational by Canada Christmas. The Ethiopian people have a different calendar with 13 months and it is currently 2006 here. So, over the course of our 2013 year, I will be both 7 and 8 years younger than I am now and I can definitely feel it. There is a spring in my step that I haven't had since my early thirties. More interesting facts to come, but look what I found in Addis. It is nice to see a little bit of Canada here.