Monday, May 19, 2014

Habtamu, Tesfahun and the work of the British Council

My very good friends Habtamu and Tesfahun were a part of an English for Teachers, British Council promotional video and they did a great job. Tesfahun and Habtamu run the English Language Improvement Centre at the Hawassa College for Teacher Education and are incredibly gifted teachers and extremely hard workers. The videos are below so you can watch them and see some of the things that I am helping out with while in Ethiopia. The second video is about the Learn English Audio Pilot, also a British Council project, and really shows the positive effects of the program in Ethiopia. Both videos were shot in Hawassa at the College for Teacher Education and Tabor Secondary and Preparatory School.

English for Teachers - Tesfahun and Habtamu

Learn English Audio Pilot

Haile Gebrselassie and the Everyone Run Campaign Race

On May 11, 2014, there was a half marathon race and a 7 K race held in Hawassa called the Every One Campaign race that has been Save the Children's largest global campaign. The Every One campaign race began in 2009 and its purpose is to raise awareness about maternal and child death and reduce the numbers of deaths each year. The fact is that 8.1 million children die before their fifth birthday and most of the causes are preventable. In Ethiopia, up until the late 90's or early 2000's, 1 in 24 women would die in childbirth. That number has now been reduced to approximately 1 in 60, but that number is still huge. Tesfahun, Habtamu and I went down to support the event and try to get an interview with Haile Gebrselassie who was one of the celebrities in attendance. It proved to be a great day and a lot of fun. The radio episode based on this day is just below this blog post and is one of the better episodes we have done.

Photo: Runners getting ready for the 7K

Photo: Dance show at the finish line

Photo: Part of the dance show

Photo: 7 K competitor group warm-up
Photo: My friends Amy and Ben having received there medals

At the end of the races, the awards were handed out and the celebrities were introduced to the crowd.

Photo: Under 11 7K boys winners

Photo: Elite Women's winners
Photo: Many of Ethiopia's top celebrities including Haile Gebrselassie and Amleset Muchie (a model and the wife of the most famous Ethiopian musician Teddy Afro)
Photo: Tesfahun and Amleset Muchie

Photo: Tesfahun, Abiy, and Habtamu with a couple of Ethiopia's top film actors.

From there, we went to the Haile Resort to get our interview with Haile Gebrselassie. He is a fantastic human being and shared many important insights with us about running and the importance of English language. Have a listen to the radio program below this blog post to hear what he had to say. 

(Photos: Tesfahun and I with the great one - Haile Gebrselassie and Tesfahun conducting the interview)


ELIC Panorama episode 27 - Haile Gebrselassie and Marathon Running

ELIC Panorama episode 24 Tesfahun's return from London

ELIC Panorama episode 23 - Importance of Friendship Episode

The trip of the Steve

In March, my good friend Steve came for a visit from Canada. He was here for almost a month and we had a great time. It was really good to have someone from my Canada friend group come to see how awesome Ethiopia is rather than me just talking about it all the time. He wasn't here for long before I put him to work though. 2 days after his arrival, he helped me conduct a cross-cultural communication workshop for a group of UK and Ethiopian under 25 years of age volunteers. It is a really great program that they have actually. They pair UK volunteers up with local Ethiopian volunteers and the pairs live together in an Ethiopian home and work together on local development initiatives. The program gives both a positive cultural exchange experience and also something to add to their young resumes. Steve played the role of a female Albatrossian in the cultural exercise and he definitely made a few people nervous (you can see why by the pictures below).

Photo: The female Albatrossian

Photo: Customary Albatrossian greeting

Steve was busy during that first week; he taught classes at the Hawassa College for Teacher Education and one of the high schools in the area as well.

Photo: Steve teaching a class of future elementary English teachers at the
Hawassa CTE.
Photo: Steve teaching a class at one of the local high schools.

On Saturday of that week, we had a barbecue down near the lake in Hawassa. Steve and I whipped up some Stevie beef burgers and some Berberie lentil burgers for the vegetarians. My friend Tihut had a line on a barbecue and everything came together to turn into a super fun night. There were about 30 people there and everyone had a great time. 
Photo: Cooking up the Berberie Lentil burgers for the vegetarians

Photo: The barbecue party set up.

Photo: My friends Abraham, Tihut, and Yasew enjoying the party

 While I worked the following week, Steve went to the Bale Mountains for a 4 day hike in the Bale National Park. I have never been, but it sure looks amazing. I hope to get out there sometime before I leave Ethiopia. 

Photo: Bale

Photo: Football everywhere

Photo: Rural living in the Bale Mountains

Photo: Bale Vista
When Steve returned from the Bale Mountains, I was ready to get out of Hawassa with my buddy for a week and be a tourist in Ethiopia for my first time. Our first stop was Lalibela which is famous for its 11 churches that were carved right out of solid rock under the order of king Lalibela who wanted to construct a "New Jerusalem" during the 12th and 13th centuries. They truly are an amazing and unique artistic and architectural achievement. 
Photo: Biete Ghiorgis at sunset. 
Photo: Biete Ghiorgis

Photo: Side view of Biete Ghiorgis

Photo: A classic Ethiopian sunset
Photo: Priest inside Biete Ghiorgis.
From Lalibela, Steve and I headed to Gondar which is famous for its castles. The Royal Enclosure, where the majority of the castles are located, is a UNESCO world heritage site. I am sure that many people from the UK and Europe don't get as excited as I do about castles, but in Canada there aren't so many so I was very excited to see them. Fasilides became Emperor in 1630 and founded the city of Gondar in 1636 making it the capital of Ethiopia at the time. Fasilides' Bath (picture below) is still filled during the Timkat (Epiphany) celebration and hundreds of people plunge into the waters. 

Above: Fasilides' Castle. Below Left: Fasilides' Bath. 

After a long day of castle touring, Steve and I needed refreshment so we took a bajaj to the Dashen brewery that is located on the outskirts of town. 

Photo: Steve and I at Dashen House

Oh yeah, a month or so before Steve arrived, my night guard and very good friend Abraham Korma had his bike stolen from the compound. Abraham is a 3rd year student studying to be a protestant preacher and will have his degree in about a year and a half. He comes from a very poor rural area of Ethiopia and doesn't really have...well, anything. Steve and Abraham became very quick friends and before we left on our trip north, Steve was very generous and got Abraham a new bicycle. Abraham might be the most humble, kind and caring person I have ever met and Steve's gift made a significant and positive impact on Abraham's life.

Photo: Tihut Abraham, Steve and I relaxing on the deck

Photo: Abraham's new ride

We also had Steve on the ELIC Panorama radio program a couple of times while he was here. Episode 21 - The Firefighting show (because Steve is a firefighter) and Episode 22 - The show of Awesome. You can find both of the episodes below.  

ELIC Panorama episode 22 - The show of awesome