Monday, December 30, 2013

Visiting Fiseha's Baby

We have a new baby in our department!

Fiseha, my line manager, the Architecture department head, just became a new dad a few days ago. And as per tradition, Snafiksh, the department secretary, collected contributions from everyone, to buy gift(s) for the new baby boy, Amen.

Friday, December 20, 2013

My Crib

In the bedroom. Not much.
So my living condition... 

I share a compound with Gavin. He has the actual "dwelling" end of the compound, of course, as he is/was the compound's main dweller. Other volunteers were either short-termers or left (way) earlier.

I have the "outer" dwelling. (Or what I jokingly tell the other Filipino friends here, the "servant's quarter"). Two rooms. One for my bedroom, with a chandelier lighting, the room probably was the "dining room", as the kitchen (outhouse) is also outside of the actual house. The other room, which was to be my "living room" (now my office/living room/ dining room), has a door (locked tightly) that opens to the street, as well a windows (locked and sealed). This room might have been a little shop (called souq here, though that's market in Arabic) of sorts. And I have my own toilet and bath.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Meeting the Arch Students Org

NIDEF (roughly, sketch in Amharic) is the newly founded architecture students organization in DDU
The other Filipina architect/lecturer (full-time/paid with expat rate) here at Dire Dawa University, Ma'am Luzzette has also initiated programs for the department of architecture.

Friday, December 13, 2013

What was I thinking?

How I got here.

Two weeks into my volunteer placement, I ask myself: what the eff was I thinking?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Harar Trip (8 Dec 2013)

Harar Jugol's iconic (main) gateway. The portrait in the middle is that of the city's last emir.
Gavin, Joseph, Idu and I went off to Harar today.

I was lucky, because Gavin was showing them around, as it's there first time hereabouts. Also, it's good for Idu, as he does some tour guiding on the side and Harar, perhaps the only tourist destination in East Ethiopia (Danakil is a bit northern, and better accessed via the northern Ethiopian city of Mekelle), should be on his have-been-to list.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

First Breakfast

Fita (Philippine version of Ritz) and butter and jam from Emirates Airways.
Of course, I have nothing to eat.

Haven't had time for shopping yet. Bringing food stuff from Addis Ababa was out of the question. So here I am, munching biscuits for breakfast.

Serves me.

Friday, December 6, 2013

So, Dire Dawa.

First look. Houses on the road from the airport to our house in Dire Dawa.
I arrived early afternoon, Gavin picked me up, dropped us really quick at the compound we're sharing, I haven't had lunch, I'm exhausted, but we had to go off quick to the uni because Gavin has a meeting with our program manager, Bizuneh, and I, too, need to meet up with Bizuneh and my line manager at the uni for that tripartite meeting (that was supposed to happen yesterday at the VSO office during the ICB, where tripartite meetings are supposed to happen) where the tripartite agreement will be signed.

Touchdown Dire Dawa

Uh-oh, flyin' via a propeller plane. 
So, Dire Dawa.

I arrived early afternoon, an hour (definitely more) delayed, with Gavin patiently waiting outside the terminal. (Gavin is the other VSO volunteer in Dire Dawa, also works with the Dire Dawa University, but at the ICT department. He's been here 2++ years. Which is great, I'd have a guide of sorts.)

The flight was rather smooth (only had a bit of difficulty checking into the my flight, lugging the big-ass VSO box on top of my already cloggy luggage, hence the excess baggage fee of ETB800++), and had quite an assortment of passengers, businessmen-types in suit and ties, elegant Muslim women, and what looked like a full team of hot to hot-ish Adidas-clad (jerseys, shorts, bags, flipflops and all) dudes.


One can never be "briefed" enough. Today I fly to Dire Dawa, where the real work starts.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Goin' Ethiopian

We are Ethiopians! Trish and Consolata show off their new EthioTelecom sim card and WiFi dongle.

Today, was the joint orientation with the partners as with our programme managers from VSO-E. Most of them (called line managers, or our superiors at the placement) came. Both my programme manager and line manager didn't come. Bizuneh, my programme manager, was travelling in Dire Dawa to meet with his ward there, a volunteer at the same university. I am to interface with him and my line manager in Dire Dawa when I get there tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Shopping/Walking Day

Scrumptious ferenji (Amharic, for foreigner) lunch with the newbies and the oldies.
Day 2 of the ICB. We met some of the volunteers. The volunteer committee, represented by Judy (Educ Policy, UK) , had a session with us.

It was shopping day for us as well. Judy and Francis (IT Advisor, Canada) took us shopping for supplies at the Shola (?) market, a good walk from the VSO-E country office. Shola (?) Market is not unlike some of our town markets back in the Philippines, with separate sections for the goods (this row for cutlery, that for textile, etc.), only way bigger.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

In-Country Briefing

Hello Ethiopia. So this is how a balcony photo call feels like!
Finally met the other volunteers (my intake batchmates, is what we'd say back in the Philippines). I first met four of them, Elias (Hospital Admin, Kenya), Consolata (Midwife, Uganda), Simon (Educ Policy, UK), Trish (Paediatric Nurse, UK), at lunch -- we were all billeted at the same hotel. They arrived a day or so earlier than me, so they already had a chance to get acquainted with each other. Then, there was Irma (MD, The Netherlands) and -- (Nurse, USA), whom we met at the VSO-E (VSO Ethiopia) country office.

Monday, December 2, 2013

First Post: Comin' to Ethiopia

Touchdown, Addis Ababa.
Finally, Addis Ababa. The voice of the flight attendant crackled as she recited the usual landing script in three languages, English, Amharic and Arabic.

There's cheering and applause and "thanks be to Allah" all around. Just like our own OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and balikbayans (returning/ visiting Filipino expatriates) -- funny, I always thought that this cheering on touchdown on the mother soil was uniquely Filipino, or at least that's how it's projected by the media, by everbody back home (stupid ignoramus, and I mean me!). But really, the relief and happiness of the lady in black hijab (a worker from the Middle East, I surmised, kind young lady, a girl, really, who offered me biscuits the moment we took off from Dubai) seated beside me was electric.