And so, I have been in Ethiopia for one whole week, although truth be told, it feels a whole lot longer than that. I didn’t know it was possible to feel so many extreme emotions in the space of a few days, but feel them I most certainly have.
I didn’t have the best start – from almost missing my connecting flight in Kenya to not having my luggage arrive with me in Addis Ababa to not receiving the correct visa, I was ready to climb right back on the plane and demand they take me home immediately. Thankfully, my luggage was due to arrive the next day and so I just had to make it through one day.
I was met at the airport by Goldy and Dawit. Goldy is the head social worker and Dawit the director here at BCI, and thus the adventure began.
My first impressions of Ethiopia was that I had nothing to compare it to. What would I tell people back home, how would I best describe this place? I have been blessed to have visited a few southern African countries, but this was like no other. The language, the people, the landscape – no words.
Yet, one week in, I have already learned so much and I am so intrigued by Ethiopia and her people. Everyone has been so incredibly friendly here and have just gone the extra mile for me. Frankly, it’s been quite disconcerting. It is such a warm, hospitable culture – if you haven’t already been told that you’re family then you’re immediate friends. I’ve also noticed that many people are so tactile. You always greet with a handshake as you come forward to touch right shoulder to right shoulder. If people are talking, they might hold hands or walk with an arm slung round the other person’s shoulder. From small children to grown men and women, I’ve seen this and it’s something I’m definitely not used to but I’ve enjoyed observing these interactions and being able to see just a snippet into the heart of this culture.
There have of course been some annoyances, albeit minor ones. There wasn’t water for 4 days this week. Wifi is either really slow or just unreliable and for the most part WhatsApp doesn’t work. Yes, all first world problems but I think being in a vastly different country has made me feel so very disconnected from home and I haven’t enjoyed that part.
I have started teaching English at the BCI Academy. The children are really so cute and just want to shake my hand or kiss my cheek. When I enter the classroom they all stand up and practically shout, “Good Moooooorning, Teeeeacherrrr!” I think teaching English has been and will continue to be a learning curve for me. As silly as it sounds, I find it quite intimidating standing in front of a classroom full of children but I know that this will pass.
I have been on 2 home visits this passed week and will write about them some more this week (hopefully), but here is a picture I took at Thursday’s visit.
Yesterday evening I had a little games evening at the guesthouse. Nearby there is a foster home with 4 teenagers (12-18) that live all on their own. They all receive sponsorship from people in the States who also come and visit them. They attend school at the BCI Academy but due to the sad circumstances they live alone. So last night we just ate some popcorn and they taught me a couple of card games. It was a really special evening and we laughed so much and I felt so blessed to get to spend time with them. I already feel like I love them and I look forward to spending some more time with them and getting to know them. Hopefully when I see them again I can get a photo so I can share it with all of you. After a really hard week, the Father filled me with so much peace while I played games with them. It was truly wonderful and brought much relief.
It is a long weekend here, the same as in South Africa. Tomorrow I’ll be heading to another Ethiopian church in Amharic. It is quite the experience, I must say and though I don’t understand a word, the people are so joyful.
Anyways, I will try to keep my blog updated as best I can. I just wanted to share a few things and some photos from my first week here in Debre Zeit.