Monday, June 24, 2013

In Zambia!!!!

We arrived at two am here last night in Lusaka, and man it's like being in America. We got off the airport and bam! It's clean, orderly, the cars in the parking lot are brands I recognize and driving down the road in the taxi there are shopping malls. Actual shopping malls! And some lady bumped into me and actually apologized!

Hard getting here, trying to figure out a flight that meets PC safety standards. We had to fly direct (only to arrive at the airport and have the screen flash 'via Harrie' which I know PC says is sketch and to be avoided, but when we actually checked in learned that Lusaka was the first stop) and we got to the airport 3 hours prior to our site and needed most of them to get through all the security checkpoints and check in line because Ethiopian Airlines thinks, oh, night shift=less people, but really? most of the International flights leave then. My poor feet. I do not have the footware for 3 hours of standing around.

However, the plane was awesome. A 737 filling with only 20 people. The meal came quickly and I was offered seconds for every round of drinks. And who cared if it was 10 pm, I had coffee!

I can already tell this will be an awesome (if slight pricey) trip. The hostel we're staying at has more amenities than most I had in New Zealand (towels, soap, toilet paper that's pink, a pool, wi-fi) and while we'll only be here one night, I think the hostel in Livingstone will be wonderful too.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

My School

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The craziness of camp days

Tuesday June 18th, 2013

7:00 – wake up, totally not wanting too. Spent too much time reading last night. Get ready for sessions.
7:20 – leave house for Medab
7:45 – at Medab, and no one is there
8:00 – Should be when camp activities start, but really when most of the campers and Alayu arrive. Missing guest stakeholders
8:05 – Start Personal Bingo activity.
8:15 – Welcome Prep school director, gender office rep, and edu woreda office rep to introduce Huruta's 2013 Camp GLOW! On the second day, because you didn't come Monday. And oh, I must do an impromptu speech to start us off. Lovely.
8:25 – guests leave, bingo resumes
8:30 – Who can tell me how HIV is transmitted? Start of HIV and the Immune System session.  Cue giving girls roles to play as cells (macrophages loved eating antigens, but the poor T4 cells were always like, who do I tell that there's an invader?), and then a game showing how the immune system works (adult elephants/immune system really got  into protecting the baby elephant/self from lions/disease. Pity they were useless against HIV me. ) and then talking about how to strengthen the immune system.
9:30 – Well then, didn't I plan 90 minutes for this session? What am I to do with the extra time before break? Tea/bread isn't ready yet. BS the  games of telephone and non-verbal telephone into a mini session on the break down of communication and what you can do to ensure a message is received as it's meant.  I've become quite good at improvising on the spot here.
10:00 - Shai-bunna! Though, most of the girls have pop instead of tea or coffee. But they take the time today to explore the grounds of the garden. Glad to see them becoming more comfortable.
10:25 -  Our guest speaker hasn't arrived yet for a 10:30 session. Quick! Think of mini activities in case she's just late and a whole 90 minute session if she doesn't show.  Thank Primus for the Life Skill's Manual.
10:30 – Do variation of trust falls in a circle. Discuss feelings on when you were in the center, and when you were doing the catching.  As much as I can BS my way through that, possible discussions questions in the manual would be wonderful.
10:40 – Wow, trust falls only tool 10 minutes. Must fill up more time! Despite requests for once again doing the hokey pokey (sorry, that was yesterday girls and didn't really appreciate the cell phone pictures of me) tried to recreate a Staging Activity on leadership and really flopped in my mind but I'm sure the girls just thought of it as something they didn't understand because I'm American and speak native English and they're Ethiopian and only know a bit of English. Didn't correct them.
10:45 – panicking, 'organize yourself silently' did not lead to groups that share a thing a common (was hoping for something based on clothes or distance from school) but rather groups for the sake of groups. Think the word 'organize' was a bit strange. Have no other quick idea in my head. And here's the guest speaker, yes!
10:50 – Begin Family Planning session! Tis awesome, because 1) guest speaker means no/little work for me 2) I honestly believe it's the most important session all week
11:30 – Alayu mentions he paid for the guests earlier to have a snack. Can the grant reimburse him? And for all the phone calls he's making on the camp's behalf.  Say nothing about all the supplies/time I've personally donated and that I'm essentially paying for the came myself and waiting for a grant reimbursement that I'm only 80% sure I'll get. Bosses said the grant was good, but that doesn't always mean the American govt will actually give me the money does it? But just tell him yes, the grant will pay.
12:00 – Maybe it was a good thing they were late, session finished early. Twas a bit boring, lots of lecturing compared to all the movement the girls did in the first session. Start the Q&A.  Very good questions asked, and even sensitive topics like rape (as in, if it happens how can you prevent a pregnancy, thanks for the questions Alayu, one of two adult males in the room) brought up.  Not a lot of girls took note, but I hope they remember this session.
12:30 – girls leave, prepare for next session
12:40 – call from Elementary school counterpart while one way home (man, didn't realize that hill was steep till I had to walk and talk up it). There is a program at the school, come.  Heard about it last Tuesday, and had planned on going after lunch. Oh well, I'll skip the meal.
1:15 – Show up at school, am the last to arrive and go through the whole, oh dear where should I sit deal and feeling very popular and not at the same time and several teachers flag me to corners but none of those whose names I know and those I did just smiled and waved. (kay, my counterpart waved me over but the people around him said there wasn't space)
1:30 – What do you know, it's a lunch program!
1:45 – People start being selected to get food, and at first I'm floored by people coming back with two beers in their hand. Did they grab one for a friend? Why are the women, who rarely drink let alone in public in the country, also carrying two beers? Why are the tables filled with so many bottles?  Questions answered. I hit the drinks table (really, just crates in the middle of the hall) and someone puts two St. Georges in my hand. If the school is paying, and there's the amount, why not indulge? The teachers passing out drinks seem rather miffed that I turn down the beer for, not even a malt drink, but a  Miranda and a Pepsi.  What's wrong with beer?  Start 10 minutes of questions from various people into my drinking habits who don't understand that I just don't like the taste.  If they want to see it as my religion forbidding alcohol, that's cool and I won't direct them to the restaurant where Gary made me drink too much ouzo.
2:30 – Speeches. In Amharic. Really hope they don't go long because I have an appointment at 4.
2:40 – Text from Greg, taking Internetless PCVs to take work related leaves to take the All Volunteer Survey. No longer in an Internetless site, should probably share that information, but rather like the idea of work allowed time away from site.
3:00 – And the speeches are done! Time for pictures, talking to people, making sure my meeting to talk about next year is set for Thursday at 4.  Must remember to put everything together. Asking a teacher for her niece's permission slip for Bekoji camps and hoping she's not miffed about me not selecting her daughter.
3:10 – Edu Woreda to give a spreadsheet of teachers who have participated in my trainings the past year and how many CPD hours they have earned because of it. Panic, again, when asked which teachers on the list are English teachers, and then feel relief and amazement and Shibeshi tells me himself.  There are 78 teachers in my school alone, and the woreda contains 31 govt schools. How does he call all that?!
3:40 – Phew, home. But not time to take off my shoes, just move a file from computer to flash drive and then off to the stationary store for printing.
4:00 – Alayu a no show, but I print 6 certificates, each with a typed name, on colored paper, but can't pay because the clerk doesn't have change for a hundred. Buying on credit isn't rare here, but I'm always worried I'll forget because they never write these things down.
4:15 – Avoid the children outside the shop who won't stop saying 'Hi' and following me. (Saying hi back only encouraged them on my way over and I don't know how to say 'once is enough' in Amharic. Must ask Dani)
4:26 – Ah, home. First time I take my shoes off since I left this morning. Quite a rare thing. I'm usually done with work by 11:30 and in my flipflops making lunch.
4:30 – Alayu calls. Did you print the certificates? Yes? I'll come pick them up.
4:40 – Alayu arrives at my house, is disappointed over the paper (why isn't it thick?), wonders if we should give them in frames (at 50 bit a pop I think not) and discusses a plan for the closing ceremony on Friday. And then tells me to type it up and give it to him the next day.
4:45 – Should start doing a whole list of stuff – prepare for the next two session, my meeting on Thursday, make reservations in Addis, write a project proposal, finish making prizes, but read a bit to relax instead.
5:00 – Dang it! Power went out. Must go buy another candle.
5:05 – Phew! It's back on.
5:30 – Get a call from Debra where I rant and complain to release a bit of tension, talk about coping mechanisms, writing things out for one of my sessions, remember more things I have to do (my VRF, laundry) talk about how I should be doing them, hiring a lady to do my laundry just this once, and the merits of buying ketchup.
6:24 – Figure I'll do at least a few articles of clothes, but the water isn't coming.
6:45 – Start dinner
6:50 – Dani comes home and tells me there will be no water for 4 days because the muddy stuff that came out of the tap yesterday is a sign that the reservoir is broken and it will take 4 days to clean. There goes the idea of laundry. And of tea for breakfast. And pasta for lunch.  And my Wednesday shower.
7:00 – Well, at least my first attempt at mashed potatoes came out okay.
7:20 – Eat, read, realize I knocked one thing off my list and added another – create a goal visual sheet. And checking on t-shirt orders for the Bekoji camp
7:30 – Really craving hot chocolate, it's my anti-stress food here instead of ice cream, but must save water. Really, really looking forward to Saturday afternoon when all my responsibilities will be gone.
7:40 – Trying to not think about the problems I'll face after my return from Zambia the 5th – no clothes for the Bejoki camp the week of the 7th cuz of no water to wash clothes, and getting girls to camp.
8:00 – Put off everything still to read in the living room. Can't really work there and if I don't 'visit' for a bit each night Dani gets miffed.
9:00 – Right, lets work on that goal sheet and then go to bed.

Friday June 21st 2013
2:32 – first wake up in a series of wake ups that usually happens with I have to get up at 6 or earlier in the morning
5:45 – throw in the towel on sleep and start getting ready for the day.
6:00 – wrap gifts, get together money, create spare logo for Bekoji camp, and all together get small things done
7:00 – Arrive at preparatory school. Am the only one, despite telling everyone to be there at 7 and that I'm not afraid of having the bus take off without them.
7:10 – Aha! Girls slowly but surly arrive and we start taking a multitude of pictures.
7:19 – What's this? Our contract bus is early? Cue taking a sign to it and more pictures.
7:54 – Of course an early bus didn't mean we'd actually leave at our 7:30 start time. Wait, why are we heading to the bus station? There may be empty seats, but I paid for them and we are not picking up extra people! Oh, paperwork, okay then. A~nd just past the turn off for the short cut. Guess we're going through Eteya.
8:30 – Flat tire. Gotta stop and change it.
9:45 – Arrive at the gates of Adama Science and Technical Institute almost an hour late. The guards won't let us in. We call the dean of students, he gives us the number for the chief of campus police, we call the chief, and he tells the guard to let us pass.
10:00 – Finally off the bus and on campus! Leave my bag of bunna ceremony gifts in the locked compartment behind the drivers seat.
10:30 – Still waiting around for our tour to start. Apparently to get into certain areas we need a letter of direction from the student dean. Who is in Addis Ababa. But he did give it to his staff.  Who lost it.
10:40 – Decide to start tour while Alayu waits at the office to see if the letter can be found to allow us to visit the libraries. The first building we pass is the female library. Our guide talks to the head librarian. We're in! Take that Ethiopian bureaucracy that's too convoluted to do things in a way that makes sense.  Am rather impressed with the selection inside, though several books are completely copied pages bound together. Female only library needed in an effort to keep harassment of women down.
11:00 – Head towards the dorms, and hello guys. I have never been to another country where the harassment of guys on girls is nearly as high. Looks, calls, approaches, despite the obvious 'preparatory' on all our matching shirts. So proud of the girls who used our anti-peer pressure session to tell them off.
11:20 – Get to see a few dorm rooms. 6 to a room, one desk, communal dorm bathrooms, and no outlets because the university doesn't want students to use it and raise the power bill.  You're stuck with bad cafeteria food unless you leave campus, which is way on the outskirts of town.
11:40 – Pop into  a classroom, not bad. White board, individual desks, lots of light, and lots of desk graffiti.
11:50 – Tour the Edu library and have to insert myself between a guy and one of my girls. She seemed kinda miffed. Well, she can send google eyes during our walks and not a presentation.  I have a feeling she  is one of the ones who won't graduate.
12:00 – Lunch! Smack a guy outside of the cafeteria for taking a picture of me with out asking. He kept saying sorry and that he did ask, despite my calling him out on the lie. Eshetu came over and made him delete the photo. I swear, men here are like 'oo! Ferengi! Must take a picture' the same way I am about monkeys.  But I'm very obviously not a while animal and don't appreciate the paparazzi attention.  I have a new sympathy for celebrities.
12:30 – The Ethiopians are impressed much by the cafeteria food, but I don't think it's bad.
12:45 – Head toward student center for coffee.  It's dirt cheap, 1.50 a cup, and you can taste the cheapness. But there was also a small baked good section (should have gotten a doughnut) and a suk.
1:00 - Head towards the stadium.
1:30 -  Back in the bus meeting spot, hoping it might come a half hour early. Spend time talking to the girls and posing with a tin Ibex.
2:00 – Alayu tells me we missed the bus, it's a contract, how is that possible? Ah, it just has a flat tire and is still in Huruta. An hour and a half away. And we have a program at 3:30. Lovely.  Plan – fill up minibuses, get to bus station, and fill up the next bus to Huruta. Thank goodness I had an extra 1,300 bir on me (wasn't entirely sure Adama U was footing the lunch bill).
2:15 – Get a call, our broken bus called a friend and there's a bus on the way to the university! And the driver will deliver my bag to Medab for the ceremony.
2:45 – Get ambushed on the bus by Eshetu and Alayu. Apparently, a bunna ceremony at the end of a week long program isn't a enough. Girls are grumbling about a tasty meal (some are from the rural areas who had rented rooms for the school year and were moving back the next morning so they had no food at home, others because it's not in the culture to not have one) and Alayu is talking about using the money from Adama's paid lunch.  Told him the grant doesn't really allow that, 1300 was set aside to go to Adama U and if it doesn't go there it goes back to Peace Corps.  But at the end of a long day walking around in the sun, willpower is low. Give in and say our incidental fund could be used for it. Just 800. And so we decided just the girls will eat, not us nor the stakeholders/guest speakers who have also been grumbling about the closing ceremony just being bunna. Decide it might be best to eat in Dera or Eteya.
3:00 – Call Medab to move bunna ceremony back again, thinking we'd get there at four after eating. Realize we still have 45 minutes of the bus ride to go. Ethiopians really don't understand schedules. Call Woin Restaurant and preorder so things will be ready.
3:50 – Arrive at Woin, meat for tibs isn't fully chopped and so get to work in the kitchen. Don't think the girls even know that I cooked their food. Get texts about things to do for Bekoji camp, must do those before I leave for Zambia on Monday.
4:00 – Our original bus called. It went to the rural area. With my bag with all the gifts for the bunna ceremony in it. Plus, three of our guests have showed up at Medab, at the original time (ish) and need to be entertained. The rest of our guests are still at the office. Eshetu goes to the office, to direct them to Medab, Alayu starts serving food to the girls, and I get attacked by little Mita who when I ask for a hug thinks that means tackle my legs.
4:40 – Mita takes to biting my legs, I punish her to the laugh of the campers, I pay for the meals and then take off with a few of the girls to Medab.
4:50 – Call came, my bag is at Medab!
5:00 – Way late to the bunna ceremony, which has been waiting for us most likely since 3:30, and feel terrible. Original guests on time are still there, and as most of the girls follow me in we start the closing ceremony with a role play showing all they learned. Present certificates and awards (extra t-shirts, had originally thought there would be 20 girls but there was only 17), had coffee, and probably got praised a million times in Amharic, and was gifted with a nutella. But what I loved the most was the girls' speeches about how much they loved the program, said we should do it for girls next year, and several bureaus, now knowing what the program is, are committed to helping next year. Alayu hopes this means a visit to Hwassa University instead of Adama.  Might be a bit much.
6:00 – Was surprised by how bittersweet I was at saying goodbye to the campers. Not that I was sad at all, but more like I know they're going someplace tough in a few months and I really hope what I taught them will help. I wish them all the best. And I know most of them I probably won't ever seen again.
6:15 – Alayu, Eshetu and I go to Woin for dinner only to discover that our girls cleaned them out of meat. There is also no meat at the next two restaurants we walk to.
6:45 – Really feel like a drink at the restaurant, to celebrate a camp well finished, but neither of the men order a beer so I feel self-conscious about getting wine and pass on it.  Talk about ideas for next year, and gender differences in positions of authority (Eshetu's doing a paper on it) and PC work (most PCVs are female, and most host families when given the choice prefer female trainees).
8:00 – Return home to find the door locked, but am let in soon enough.  Coffee, quineto, and I'm still so tired and having to go to Adama the next morning (aiming for the 6 am bus) for Bekoji camp stuff.  Go to bed exhausted.

Rest assured, there'll be a camp video soon.

Also, for those who may be confused, bunna is coffee in Amharic.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A day in the life

  • Ug, never walking more than 5 minutes in my locally bought dress shoes again. Oh the blisters!
  • Dani is the largest be-lazy enabler. “Don't go to work, I'm making bunna. Right outside your door. Between you and the steps.”
  • Need to actually do it when I think something needs to be done, from calling my counterpart to have shai to buying peanuts. And of course washing dishes/clothes.
  • Ox loose on the soccer field! Enjoy it buddy, you have four days to live before Easter feasting.
  • After the awesomeness of the two British shows I follow: Doctor Who and Sherlock, I expected my exposure to the third to also be good. Sadly, Luther doesn't compare.
  • I've just been used. Dani: Jenny, you are a ferengi so they will give you sugar before me. Go buy for me. Sadly, it's true. How sugar sales are monitored here sorta makes me feel like I'm living in WWII times.
  • O.O Internet cafe in town! But still no CDMA. Dang.
  • RAWR! I have having a cold here.
  • Oh, just got way over my head. Wanted to do my summer camp in August, my counterpart said the best time would be in June. Yay 8 weeks to plan!
  • Watching a sappy movie when you have a cold is a bad idea – your nose runs twice as much.
  • Ug, still sore three days after the 7km.
  • Holy Cow, directing/planning/organizing camps is super stressful.
  • Prideful moment of the day: Letting the health center know I want a doctor to do a family planning session at a camp for 20 12 grade girls. In Amharic! Boo-yah!
  • I don't mind washing my clothes in a bucket. Washing my sheets however....
  • I love the fact that I can customize the names when playing Hearts. And somehow, the winner is still either Papou or Dad.
  • Was out of the house for 7 hours straight today and in that time really only mailed a couple of packages, had lunch, and picked up t-shirts. Oh, the time wasted waiting for buses to arrive/fill up and leave.
  • Really wanted a mocha today, or whatever the coffee/milk/chocolate combo is called, but both milk bets were dry. Sigh.
  • Out of the normal things I have been called: White China, American-san, Danish. I wish 'sexy lady' could be on that list, but alas it's not.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Things worth checking out