Relaxed Standards

Dec 30th
Earlier I mentioned that at Common River (www.commonriver.org) there are classes for women who had to drop out of school when they were younger and are now returning back to school. I really want to work with this group of women. I had a few ideas for possible projects, such as helping them start their own business or helping them learn basic business concepts if they are already running one. Yesterday, I explained to the director that I would like to have a meeting with the women to get their opinions about the idea and to find out what sort of help they would want. I wanted to create an open dialogue with them, discover what their needs are, and what ways I could help. We decided to introduce the idea to the women today, as there was already a meeting scheduled.
During the meeting, I told them my educational background experience and that I would like to have classes that helped with business ideas, issues, problems. To get an understanding of what kind of help they would need, the first question I asked was “What business related/money issues do you face?” There was a culture difference, in which when people ask certain questions they seem to say what they think you want to hear. So instead of telling me what problems they face, they told me how they set aside money each month to save. Basically, telling me what knowledge they do have of business. I had to keep emphasizing that I was not asking for suggestions on how to properly manage money, but instead was asking what did they need help with. Finally, someone raised their hand and said “There are two different types of women here, some that have business and some that want to start a business. How do you plan to handle the different groups?” I explained that I could have two separate classes, that addressed the different issues. The crowd got very excited and then began to tell me their ideas of possible businesses. Seventy women signed up to take the class! I am excited to work with these women, but I am also nervous. It is only my second week at site and I feel that I am jumping head in to projects. Granted they arent huge projects, it just seems that it is so soon. For better or worse, I am going to roll with it. If I fail, I fail. But at least I tried. I will continue to conduct the community needs assessment. But in a way, this is part of the CNA. I had an open dialogue with the women about what they want and what areas I could help with. They cam eup with the suggestions on their own and we are going to take it from there. I hope they are as excited about this as they said. But, if they are not, time will tell. At least, I am going ot try.

Jan 1st
How did I spend New Years Eve?
In the dark
Watching Finding Nemo
But NOT alone

Lol let me explain…
I had an awesome New Years. I went to Hawassa again and stayed with the same volunteer. We went to his neighbor’s house and had a lovely dinner. We went to a few bars before returning to her house for the countdown. We came back, turned off the lights, and put on “Finding Nemo.” After about 15 minutes, a volunteer yells “HEY! Did you imagine spending your New Years this way?? We’re in Ethiopia its going to be 2012. And what are we doing??? Watching Finding Nemo in the dark??? That’s what we’re going to tell people? Someone’s going to say Hey how did you spend your new years? And you know our answer?? Watching finding Nemo in the DARRKKK???”
So I asked him if it would be better if we lit some candles, or turned on the lights. Lol I didn’t understand the emphasize on the dark. That became our slogan for the night. We added, but not alone because it would have been sad if we were watching it in a country half way across the world from our family, in the dark, alone. But, instead we were with good people! J

During Christmas, I had met a lady that is from Oakland, Ca and now lives with her family in Hawassa. She goes to church with a few of the volunteers that live in the area. The first thing she says to me is “girl, you should come over for New Years I’m having gumbo! I know you miss gumbo.” So I took her up on it, and on New Years I went to her house and had GUMBO! It was delicious! She also had cornbread, coleslaw, salad, black eyed peas, cake, and banana pudding! The awesome thing about being in the peace corps is you meet some really wonderful people. A soon as I stepped into her home, she made me feel at home. She put me to work making a salad. Later, a volutneer had stopped by to pick up a key that I had. Although she had never met him, she invited him in and told him to eat up! Her family will live here for 10 years before moving to Malaysia. Her husband is a teacher and a preacher. I also met her neighbor, a woman from Sweden who adopted two Ethiopian children. She now lives in Hawassa with her husband. They were truly awesome people!

Jan 2nd
I was on my way to a meeting. I had just locked up my house, said Ciao! to the random man in my compound, and turned to leave. He asked me in Amharic to wait for him as he finished up his work. So that I could lock the gate for him. Well he said wait, the rest is what I guess he was saying since I didn’t understand. Finally he’s ready to leave. Unfortunately, the landlord put the bolt lock on the gate which you have to struggle very hard to unlock. The lock is falling out of its socket, you have to actually hold the lock in place, put the key in and try and turn it. When the bolt is in place, it is even more difficult to unlock. I put the key in and keep turning and unfortunately nothing is happening. I have him try and we just keep hearing the lock make a clicking noise but it is still locked. He starts screaming at me in Amharic. I get frustrated and tell him I only speak English. Yet, he decides to keep yelling at me in Amharic. I tell him I only speak a little Amharic. The translation of how I say I don’t speak Amharic is “Amharic, little little.” CLEARLY, if I cant even form a full sentence of how little Amharic I speak, I am not fluent. But that doesn’t stop him, he just keeps asking me questions and yelling. So, I call the landlord and hand him the phone. Actually, I call the landlord, and hold the phone to his ear. Since he wouldn’t take it in his hand. When the landlord answers he doesn’t say hello. She keeps saying hello to him. Eventually he says hello but nothing else. I didn’t have the skill set to say “Talk to her DUMMY! Tell her what’s happening.” So she hangs up. I call again and try it again. First, I tell her to wait and I hand him the phone again. He does the same thing. I hold the phone to his ear, as he stands and says nothing. My frustration begins to flare. but Alas! After the 5th time she says hello, he finally says something. Not sure what he said, but there was a lot of yelling and there was spit on my phone when he was done. Next thing you know he’s yelling at me again. I think he wanted me to ho[p the fence. Seeing as I have never been that good at that, and definitely couldn’t hop a fence that’s at least 8 feet high. I did some sign language that basically said you do it! So he starts climbing the fence, but the other side doesn’t have anything to help him climb down. He couldn’t jump from the other side, he would have definitely gotten hurt. He didn’t have any shoes to help him either. After more yelling about who knows what. I eventually climb up the fence, yell at some girls to come here, throw them the keys, do some more made up sign language that says unlock the gate, and tell them to get the store owner that works next door. The son that usually works there, knows how to open my door as I have had him do it countless times. But he wasn’t there. So the girls came back and tried to unlock it. It didn’t work, they couldn’t figure out how to unlock it from the other side (it’s a very tricky door from both sides). Eventually, a 13 year old hero comes up and unlocks it for us! Free at LAST! I cant believe I was locked in from the INSIDE! On my way to the meeting I run into the landlord. She asked me what happened and I mimed to her the entire scene. Im actually getting pretty good at miming. She understood and laughed!

Later on that night, I had waited until about 8:30p to decide that I really needed to eat and that the carrots I ate at 7p weren’t going to last me until the end of the night. Im not sure what gave it away. It could’ve been the intense growl that I felt. Or the look that my landlords kids gave me when they heard it. Whatever it was, I realized that I absolutely had to go to a store to get some food. I told the kids I didn’t have any food so I was going to go to a store to get some. I didn’t realize that they were all closed. So, they went with me. They had me bring a flashlight. It is very scary out at night, because you cant really see anything. One of the kids was nervous for me, so he told me not to talk. HE didn’t want any one to hear me speak in English and then become a target. He also didn’t want me to shine my flashlight to high up. I think he was nervous that someone might want it. Fortunately, we ran into the principal of a school that I work for. He took us to a restaurant and took me back home. Needless to say , I will make sure I have some food in my house before 6:30p.

Jan 4th
I bought meat today!!! I don’t even know what kind I bought, unfortunately I don’t the names of animals. However I bought it and whatever it is im going to make it into a hamburger! Lol

Jan 5th
So my standards of food cleanliness have definitely relaxed in Ethiopia. Judge me if you want to, but I bet yours would too. I was just cooking potatoes to go with my hamburger leftovers, when I dropped my potatoes on the floor. The same floor in fact that I saw a mouse scamper across, the same floor that I saw ants crawling on, and the same floor that Im sure has had far worse creepy crawlers walking on it than that. I picked up those potatoes, paused, and threw those bad boys in the skillet. My only thought was “I’m sure the grease will burn the dirt off.” I refused to throw them away. It is 8:30p which means all the stores are closed. Plus, I try not to go out of my house after 6:30p because it is pitch black at that time. When I first came to Ethiopia, I had decided that not even the 5 second rule applied in this country. If it touched the ground, I would not eat it. But you know what? Things have changed. The other day, I had searched just about every store for eggs. For some reason, I just couldn’t find any. After 2 hours of searching, I gave the money to a kid and had him find some for me. I was very excited when he brought back 5 eggs. While walking home, the bag broke and I dropped 2 of them. Let me tell you, if I could have thought of a way to sweep the yolk back into the bag I would’ve! I didn’t even know where to go to buy more eggs. I just put my head down, turned slowly away, and kept walking. If I EVER drop one of those precious chocolates that I get from my care packages, I don’t care HOW long its been on the floor, I’m eating it! There is a drink that a volunteer’s host mother made about 2 months ago, I think its called Muk. You drink it when you‘re pregnant or when you‘re sick. Basically she fermented it in a tub for about 3 days. Then she stirred it with her hands (without washing them). She then used a rag as a filter, the same rag that she uses for everything. Needles to say, two months ago, we had decided that we would never drink that again. A month ago, we had decided that, since our standards have changed so much, by the end of the two years we would probably drink this again. Yesterday, I found out that on Tuesday he had 7 drinks of this in one sitting. LOL

Lately, I have been trying to think of new recipes to cook with the limited variety we have. The other day I had potatoes, carrots, and A1steak sauce. It was GOOD! Lol…but anything is good right now

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About bnw0404

I hope to use this blog to keep everyone updated on my Peace Corps journey from California to Ethiopia Disclaimer: The contents of this page, and all links appearing on this page, do not represent the positions, views or intents of the U.S. Government, or the United States Peace Corps.
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3 Responses to Relaxed Standards

  1. VeLisa says:

    New Year’s eve…. ummmm from what you told me, you most definitely did not celebrate 2012, more like 2005, but sounded fun anyway! LOL

  2. Breanna says:

    hahha! actually it is still 2004 here, their new years isnt until sept! hahah!

  3. I am impressed with this website, real I am a fan.

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