Tag Archives: Gondar

The Programs of Menna

3 Jul

Over the past few months I have helped a fledgling NGO set up some communications (website, brochure etc.) Their main program is a daily meal that is really one of the first soup kitchens in Africa. The group started as a bunch of university friends who wanted to make a difference in their community. While they are still quite small, their passion has really made an impact.

Here is the video I put together highlighting their programs, their beneficiaries and some of their info. Check it out to see the type of work I’ve been doing, and some interviews with people in my city.

Sorry for the crappy quality – not much I can do with a flipcam and 5 hours of uploading.

More Day Trips from Gondar, and My 100th Post!

16 Jun

Recently some friends visited me and I finally crossed those elusive random touristy things off my Gondar list. Here are some awesome trips you can do within 1 day from my site.

1. Simien Mountain Trek.

Last time I did the Simiens was for the Big Kahuna – Ras Dashen. This time, it was a short jaunt to Sankober (the first camp) with lots of selfies with the baboons along the way. This trip was much cheaper, shorter, and had a lot more monkeys. And per usual, the Simien views were amazing.

well, it was a little foggy at first

well, it was a little foggy at first

but the views got better

but the views got better

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so many selfies

so many selfies

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2. Boat Trip on Lake Tana

Just 3 hours south of me is Bahir Dar, the regional capital and city on the south of Lake Tana. A boat ride is cheap and fun, and if you time it right you may be able to see some hippos! People usually do the boat tour to see churches and monasteries around the lake, but having lived here long enough to know they all look the same we crossed our fingers for the wildlife. There was also some great bird watching. The best time to go to see hippos is around 4pm or so, when they come up to eat and it’s not so hot.

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These kids lived on an island in the lake. Coming home from school, this traditional papyrus boat takes them across twice a day.

These kids lived on an island in the lake. Coming home from school, this traditional papyrus boat takes them across twice a day.

 

3. Blue Nile Falls.

This was a big tourist check. I had planned to go with my family back in December, but flight schedules and the promise of a dry riverbed dissuaded us. I was skeptical if the falls would be impressive so close to the end of dry season, but we saw something even cooler. With the heavy rains over the past few weeks, in the 30 minutes or so that we were at the falls we actually saw them grow! The river visibly swelled minute by minute. I will definitely have to return in September when the falls are at their full force.

We arrived the local way, which was much cheaper. Most hotels or tour companies will sell you a driver for multiple hundreds of birr per person. We simply went to the bus station and caught a big bus for 14 birr per person to Tis Abay (the village that is a 20 minute hike from the falls). This was great, until on the way back, an axel broke. We caught a ride the rest of the way on a tuk-tuk type truck. Super uncomfortable, but I sorta feel like the boys enjoyed their Type 2 fun (at least there was a great story.)

Keith, John, and I at Blue Nile Falls

Keith, John, and I at Blue Nile Falls

The suspension bridge that you have to cross

The suspension bridge that you have to cross

Willy Wonka Chocolate River much?

Willy Wonka Chocolate River much?

 

An Engagement, and a Party

24 May
Morgan and Robel, the happy couple

Morgan and Robel, the happy couple

Oh my gosh you guys!!! My site mate Morgan just got engaged to her long term Ethiopian boyfriend Robel. What does that mean? It means a meat tent, a group of men jumping in circles chanting, being blessed by a priest, and a lot of ridiculous photos at the Gondar castles. What started as an “engagement party” basically turned in to a mini Ethiopian wedding.

I was unofficial photog for the day, capturing all the lovey dovey cute adorable moments, as well as a fair share of “what the hell is going on?” moments. This was the ultimate cross-cultural experience. Though don’t worry Peace Corps, we got some Goal 2 activities in there – I made some hot pink frosting cupcakes and we did a traditional American wedding cake photo :)

had to do a traditional "American" cake photo

had to do a traditional “American” cake photo

The day started gathering at Morgan’s compound to hang out with her “Ethiopian family.” Afterwards we were ushered into vans to drive to Robel’s house, the site of the party. But of course we had to do a little scenic route around Gondar first, just to let anyone who didn’t know yet that Morgan and Robel were engaged. (Seriously though, everybody knows.)

riding around Gondar and honking at everybody

riding around Gondar and honking at everybody, wouldn’t be Ethiopia without a party bajaj/tuk-tuk

After arriving at Robel’s house, we were ushered through the crowd to the inner room. This is one of the few times I have been able to witness what goes on at these things. Being Morgan’s “family” we were VIP front row seats!  This entailed watching the priest bless the engagement and rings (Morgan got a new Orthodox name – Wolleta Selassie, awesome) and then he danced around a bit. Gifts were given, and food was eaten. Always so much food.

this was the cow that was slaughtered for the feast. Clearly, she had to take a photo with it.

This was the cow that was slaughtered for the feast. Clearly, she had to take a photo with it.

It basically says Congratulation Robel and Morgan on your engagement with the date of the Ethiopian calendar (Ginbot 10, 2006 aka May 18, 2014)

It basically says Congratulation Robel and Morgan on your engagement with the date of the Ethiopian calendar (Ginbot 10, 2006 aka May 18, 2014)

so many people at Robel's house

so many people at Robel’s house

The priest blessed the rings and gave Morgan an Orthodox name - Wolleta Selassie

The priest blessed the rings and gave Morgan an Orthodox name – Wolleta Selassie

the rings

the rings – apparently they have to be gold to count in Ethiopia

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Me signing the betrothal papers as a witness, can't back out now!

Me signing the betrothal papers as a witness, can’t back out now!

After lunch, we headed to the Fasil Gibbi (the Gondar Castles) to take the oh so Gonderian castle wedding photos. Morgan is decked out in habesha libs, and Robel looks suave in his ferenji suit (they switched!).

waving off the kids

waving off the kids

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We had a big posse

We had a big posse

Engagement photos at the Gondar Castles

Engagement photos at the Gondar Castles

Morgan's family

Morgan’s family

awwww... their babies are going to have the highest cheekbones eva!

awwww… their babies are going to have the highest cheekbones eva!

So there you have it. Morgan is engaged. When she goes back to the states at the end of her Peace Corps service (she’s leaving me so soon!) she will start the process to be reunited with Robel through a fiance visa. It could take years, but these too can do it! Then they will have a civil ceremony in America and be officially married. Though, I’m pretty sure the events on Sunday were pretty Ethiopian official. I mean, I signed papers in Amharic – do you really think I read them?

 

 

Days in the Life

12 Mar

Recently my aunt suggested I do a “day in the life” post. The problem is, not one of my days are the same. I work by project, and if I have projects happening, it can be very busy. If I don’t, well 8 seasons of Bones on my hardrive look pretty tempting. So I figured I would highlight a few days from the past week, since they seem to hit most of the “types” of days I tend to have.

Friday, February 28, 2014 “My Life is Soooo Hard”

- 8:30 am – Wake up at and pack a backpack to head to Bahar Dar for a meeting
– 9:15am Meet Sandy for breakfast (special ful) at Enyame Cafe near the bus station
– 10:15am Get on a bus from Gondar to Bahar Dar
– 10:45am finally get out of Gondar after driving around the city looking for more passengers
-12:20pm Hand off medicine to a PCV in Woretta as the car is still moving, a perfect Habesha pass
-1:45pm arrive in Bahar Dar, lunch a Misrak
– 3:30pm lounge by the pool
-5:00pm Get a 20o birr ($10) massage
– 7:00pm Dinner at Desit, with beers on the lakefront
-10pm Go to bed

Sunday, February 16, 2014 “The Weekends are Busy!”

- 8:30am Wake up and contemplate making tea
– 9:00am Do an Insanity workout
-9:45am cold shower
– 9:55am Actually get around to making tea
– 10:00am finish last minute planning for today’s Girls Club Activity
-10:30am walk to Fasilides High School
-10:45am Arrive at Fasilides, be very surprised that some girls are early for the 11 o’clock club
– 11:25am finally start the club (that’s more like it), this week was about setting goals
– 12:05pm show a 10 min segment of the Girl Rising Documentary. We are working through each girl’s stories over 8 weeks.
– 12:40pm finish discussion and Girl’s Club, walk to Maraki (University Campus)
– 1:30pm arrive at Maraki and sit in the President’s office with free internet! Sorta kind of do work AKA plan India trip!
– 2:30pm Meet the ADMAS Leadership kids at the Makarki Gate, walk to Bridge of Hope School
– 3:00pm Play Jeopardy with African history
-3:45pm Introduce the Action for Gender Equality Summit and ask for applications
-4:15pm walk home (45 min)
-5:00pm Morgan makes me dinner, what a good housewife!
– 6:00pm Gossip
– 9:30pm Bedtime!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 “Work is more than projects”

-8:30am Wake up
-8:45 am Insanity Workout – Recovery today whew!
– 9:30am Cold Shower, I will never get used to it
– 9:40am Make breakfast, peanut butter and banana
– 10:00am wash dishes in the bucket
-10:25am clean bucket for clothes
-10: 30am Do laundry by hand. This is a “3 load” day, basically the amount of times I have to change the water in the bucket.
-11:45am sweep and clean counters
– 12:05pm Make lunch, tuna on bread, salad
– 12:45pm Eat lunch and watch Leverage
– 1:30pm Just one more episode…. it’s addictive
– 2:15pm Take line taxi (minibus) to Nigat Hotel to meet Tewelde for coffee
– 2:50pm walk to Admas Science Campus for a meeting on developing a Sex Ed curriculum at the University
– 3:00pm guy who called the meeting doesn’t show… and he’s a ferenj! Rude. We wait around.
– 3:40pm walk from Admas to Piazza (45 min), when I have extra time I walk. There are a lot of hills in Gondar. I’m crazy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 “When It Rains, It Pours”

- 8am  Wake Up
– 8:30am walk up the hill to a meeting with Menna Food Project
– 9am Go to some of the poorest communities in Gondar to interview benificiaries about where they live, their families and the lives (video/photos to come!)
– 12pm Lunch with some site mates
– 1pm Working on Malaria logistics, scheduling a Soap training, printing Grassroot Soccer certificates and other random planning for the many projects I couldn’t say no to
– 4pm Walk to Arada (market area) to help set up Food Bank/Soup Kitchen (Wot Kitchen?)
– 4:30pm More interviews and Video
-5pm Serve food to needy
-6pm Walk home on the back roads, lots of little kids yell at me
6:30pm Buy tomatoes and potatoes at the mini market near my house (from the woman with their tarps)
-7pm Make dinner
– 8pm Transfer all my interviews and photos and video and start to catalog
– 10pm Read a chapter of Harry Potter
– 10:30pm BED!

So there are some “typical” days – lots of work, lots of life, and some #treatyoself moments. The one thing that is consistent in Ethiopia is inconsistency, but in terms of work that’s ok. I like not having a 9-5 job. I like having to be motivated to get up and do something. I like working on projects that I want to do. I like having time to exercise and read and be addicted to TV shows. But even when times are the busiest (last weekend I brought two girls to the Action for Gender Equality Summit in Addis…. 6am to 11pm days), it’s still Peace Corps: The toughest job you’ll ever love.

An Ethiopian Wedding

20 Feb

Last weekend I crossed off a Peace Corps bucket list item – attend an Ethiopian Wedding. And boy was this a wedding. Probably one of the biggest events in Gondar after Timket, this was the wedding of one of the Four Sisters. If anyone has been here and eaten at Four Sisters Restaurant, they know how big a deal these ladies are in Gondar. My friend Helen got married to an Australian man named Anthony, who looked a little overwhelmed by the mobs of chanting men at his wedding to be honest. But everyone had a great time, not least due to the copious chunks of raw meat delicacies being offered (I politely declined, been there, done that.)

My invitation on a scroll

My invitation on a scroll

so many people

so many people

Laurissa, Myself, and Morgan

Laurissa, Myself, and Morgan

The wedding lasted for about three days of festivities with my guestimate of over 1,000 people attending at some point during the event. T’ej (honey wine) flowed freely, and it was pretty fun being the some of only white people on the bride’s side. I put on my hasbesha libs (Ethiopian dress, borrowed thanks to Morgan) and we drank and danced. Gondar’s big wigs were all out, almost everyone in the tourist or restaurant or hotel industry was there. Giant tents were set up for the guests and the street kids were out in full force, getting in on the siga wot (meat stew).

so much confetti

so much confetti

Helen and Anthony

Helen and Anthony

This was an interesting event since it was both distinctly Ethiopian, but also she was marrying a foreigner. A white wedding dress, bright pink bridesmaids dresses, and the usual pound of makeup on the women made it a hybrid high school prom, mosh pit situation. We were lucky enough to run in to each of the four sisters as they ran around the guests, though only able to get a photo with Aiden (the youngest, a university student and one of the smartest women I have met).

Myself, Aiden, and Morgan

Myself, Aiden, and Morgan

It was great to mingle with friends and strangers, taking in the spectacle while also a part of it. It typified the existence of a volunteer here. While I was invited and welcomed warmly, there are some traditions I will never quite understand. Both at the party and outside the party, all I could think was, weddings are weddings, in America or Ethiopia. It’s a giant party.

Timket 2.0

11 Feb

Living here for two years you get a few chances to see holiday celebrations. Is this craziness typical? What exactly is a tobat? Do I really have to get up at 3am? These are the questions you have a year to mull over before diving in to the second time on a holiday. This is my second Timket in Gondar. And it’s just as crazy as last year.

watching the parade

watching the parade

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on the way to the bath

on the way to the bath

Priest with an i-pad... yup.

Priest with an i-pad… yup.

Per usual, we started the day before with a parade of the arcs of the covenant down from the 44 Orthodox churches in town. Though not as much of a spectacle as last year, there were just as many people walking right in front of my house.

A priest pouring holy water float

A priest pouring holy water float

We woke up at 2:45am (learned our lesson from last year) and went down to the baths to get good seats on the rickety platforms. Lucky for us, this year they reserved seats for tourists so we just pretended not to speak Amharic for a day. Last year I was right in amongst the crowds, but this year we were more separated. I’m glad I got to experience both. Being in the thick of things last year was a great introduction to my community and the culture. This year, after living her for a while, ya…. I deserved the breather.

dawn prayer

dawn prayer

Fasil Bath at Night

Fasil Bath at Night

waiting for the service

waiting for the service

The rickety platforms

The rickety platforms

Timket in Gondar!

Timket in Gondar!

Timket is Gondar at its best and worst. People travel from all over Ethiopia to worship at the baths, as well as see the sights. A bazaar is set up the week before, tour companies pick up all sorts of business, and professional pickpockets from Addis come up to take advantage. The ceremony is both spiritual and chaotic. Young men jump in with no thought to the significance – one almost fell in before the water was blessed. But as the ceremony moves from religious to more generally cultural, we still get to experience a very unique part of Ethiopian life. This year many of the PCVs who visited jumped in to the pool! I declined, knowing from last year how cold it would be.

 

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jumping in!

jumping in!

the first jumper! right after the priest blessed the water

the first jumper! right after the priest blessed the water

in the holy water

in the holy water

so. cold.

so. cold.

climbing the trees to get a good view - too bad they aren't sycamores, that would have been perfect

climbing the trees to get a good view – too bad they aren’t sycamores, that would have been perfect

Seeing this holiday for the second time, I’ve come to realize how much I really have integrated into life here. Hearing the questions other tourists were asking their guides, I felt pretty knowledgeable. We knew where to go, when to go, and who to schmooze. I ran in to many many friends and acquaintances. It really is a community holiday, and on some level I’m really part of the community now.

so many visitors

so many visitors

priests at service

priests at service

Playing Tourist – The Castles of Gondar

11 Jan

So I finally did it. I took a tour of the Fasil Gibi Castles in Gondar. It has been 13 months of avoidance, excuses, bad timing, and stinginess, but I held off for my family. The irony is, the one time I was actually being a tourist in Gondar, no one treated me like one. The tour guide at the Fasil Castles lives in my neighborhood and recognized me. Walking around Gondar I had street children hanging off my arms. We were invited into friends’ homes for buna ceremonies and wot. It was really fantastic to introduce some idea of my life to my family – there is only so much blogs, emails and phone calls can relate. We even stuffed all five of us and a duffle bag into a bajaj (tuk tuk). Real life, sorta.

The Fam at the Fasil Castles

The Fam at the Fasil Castles

I finally put together the mish-mash of histories I had heard while living here over the year. Apparently, the ruins in the compound aren’t from age, but from British bombs in World War II. The Italians had used the compound as a military headquarters. There at six castles inside all built at different times over a couple hundred years, the oldest built in the 1600s by different rulers when Gondar was the seat of power in Ethiopia. They draw from architectural inspirations as varied as Portuguese to Moor/Islamic to Indians.

Queen Mintwab's castle, she later moved to Quasquam near the Gondar University hospital

Queen Mintwab’s castle, she later moved to Quasquam near the Gondar University hospital

the Italians used this space for a combat hospital

the Italians used this space for a combat hospital

Mickey in the lion's cages

Mickey in the lion’s cages

three of the six

three of the six

a bombed out great hall

a bombed out great hall

Mom and the brothers checking out the ruins

Mom and the brothers checking out the ruins

through the peephole

through the peephole

some of the newer buildings, "Building of Love" (because the king was awesomely popular?) and the library

some of the newer buildings, “Building of Love” (because the king was awesomely popular?) and the library

After the castle tour we took a half day hike to a Simien Mountains look-out. I could even see my friend’s site from there- Tikel Dingay, noticeable by the unique split rock that looms over the town. We chased baboons through the forest, and of course had to take some jumping photos.

overlooking the Simiens

overlooking the Simiens

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the whole fam

the whole fam

David is a giant

David is a giant

We ended the Gondar part of the trip with a dinner at my favorite local cuisine restaurant Four Sisters, who of course brought us up to dance. My mom held her own, but David definitely showed me up for local integration – he can skiskista with the best of them.

a double gorsha for love

a double gorsha for love

Inspector T'ena was showing me up

Inspector T’ena was showing me up

Me and my brothers at the TImket baths

Me and my brothers at the TImket baths

The Least of These – The Programs of Yenege Tesfa

14 Nov

A large part of my work is supporting the amazing things that already go on in this city. Organizations and projects that have been running for years, sustained by the passion of community members. Recently I have been helping one such group with their visibility for donors (making brochures, updating the website etc.). It’s a simple way I can use my technical skills to support what’s already happening.

As part of this project, I have been going around to photograph the activities and children’s shelters run by Yenege Tesfa (translates to Hope for Tomorrow). Though I had worked with them before, Yenege Tesfa was the partner for the Grassroot soccer program with street orphans, I had never visited their shelters.

Fasil Boys' Shelter

Fasil Boys’ Shelter

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They have just opened a new boys shelter. When I walked in I recognized many of the boys I had worked with over the summer. They had just moved in two weeks ago and already they seemed more content, emotionally safe, and formed a community of brothers. They had chosen the boys based on their participation in the mobile school programming, showing that these boys, even with the hardships on the street had ambitions to better themselves. Many of the children housed by Yenege Tesfa are now in the top 10% of their classes. A supportive environment that values education really really really matters.

Some of GRS graduates

Some of my GRS graduates

Yohannes Boy's Shelter - the newest of 5 homes

Yohannes Boy’s Shelter – the newest of 5 homes

But street children are not the only vulnerable children in this community. To address a different need, Yenege Tesfa opened a day care center – across from the prison. When someone is incarcerated in Ethiopia their family must feed them, their children can live with them, and many times for single mothers, their children spend most of the time behind the prison fence.

some Day Care children

some Day Care children

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painting nails

painting nails

one of the house mothers making lunch

one of the house mothers making lunch

So as of last week, a day care program was set up to have programs for the children of prison inmates. A deal was struck with the guards to allow these children to pass through the gates in the morning, Yenege Tesfa provides programs and lunch, then they can go “home” and sleep with their mothers in the prison at night.

The broad range of programming from Yenege Tesfa is visibly making a grand change for the children and families it helps. Addressing not just the symptoms of poverty and disease (shelters, day care, food coupons) they also have the foresight to address the causes, creating programming that supports those on the edge (healthcare vouchers, mobile school for street children, agriculture for single mothers, life skills and business trainings).

girls with their house mother at Tsehaytu Shelter

girls with their house mother at Tsehaytu Shelter

Two goofballs at Tewedros Shelter

Two goofballs at Tewedros Shelter

Doing homework at Fasil Shelter

Doing homework at Fasil Shelter

At Mintwab Shelter

At Mintwab Shelter

In the model garden

In the model garden

Over the next few months I plan to highlight some of the local groups and projects I have had the pleasure to work with. Praising the good work being done by Ethiopians themselves. There are so many international aid organizations (for usually better and sometimes worse). To see homegrown or home-sustained programs makes me feel like the work I do here, if it supports these, will have more impact, more promise, and more roots.

The Roof of Africa

2 Nov

7 girls, 5 days, 1 goal. To summit the highest point in Ethiopia. Ras Dashen. Or as it’s known locally, Ras Dejen.

The only thing they don’t tell you is, you aren’t just summitting Ras Dashen, you are summitting the 6 peaks between here and there in addition to the valleys, rock scrambling, and gorges you have to scale along the way. Kilimanjaro? Piece of cake. This is the Roof of Africa.

the start....

the start….

beautiful peaks and wildflowers. October is the best time to go.

beautiful peaks and wildflowers. October is the best time to go.

I'm still energetic on day 3.

I’m still energetic on day 3.

We stayed at three separate camps. Starting at Sankober, we spent the night at Gitch, then Chenok, then the base camp for Ras Dashen. The food was amazing and the trip was well organized by Simien Trek (simientrek.com), owned by our good fried Shiff. Highly recommend them to any Simien hikers!

Sunset at Chenok. Pride Rock.

Sunset at Chenok. Pride Rock.

One of our camps. Rained heavy that night!

One of our camps. Rained heavy that night!

these donkeys carried our stuff... I guess we aren't that hardcore.

these donkeys carried our stuff… I guess we aren’t that hardcore.

lunch the first day

lunch the first day

Over the course of our trek we saw some amazing views, walked through a huge troupe of baboons, spied the Walia Ibex, and even saw the Ethiopian red wolf. To see all the endemic species of the SImiens was a real treat and quite rare.

Walia Ibex, endemic to the Simiens.

Walia Ibex, endemic to the Simiens.

Gelada Baboons... or the University of Michigan researchers have determined they are the last of their kind of monkey

Gelada Baboons… or the University of Michigan researchers have determined they are the last of their kind of monkey

hanging out on the cliffs. If they can run around these mountains in gellies, I can do it in chacos... right?

hanging out on the cliffs. If they can run around these mountains in gellies, I can do it in chacos… right?

We finally made it to Ras Dashen (about 14,900 ft) on Day 4. While some of the views were more epic the first few days, it was still a major accomplishment to summit. It was cold and windy at the top so we took a photos, had a quick lunch and then headed back down the 3,000 feet to base camp.

a short free climb to the top

a short free climb to the top

did it in Chacos! these are officially hiking sandals

did it in Chacos! these are officially hiking sandals

Gondar Girls on Ras Dashen

Gondar Girls on Ras Dashen

So we did it. Still alive. Only a few bloody blisters, broken toes, a small case of dehydration, a medium case of dysentery, and a lot of windburn.  This trek will go down as one of my more epic experiences. I mean trekking is cool, but when you trek three feet from monkeys… this is trekking in Africa.

Pop Up Clinics

11 Oct

Word of mouth, a bunch of tarps, an empty field, four days, 60 international doctors, 100 Ethiopian doctors, and a lot of life sticks (personal water filters). This was the scene I came upon yesterday in the Samuna Ber area of Gondar. Once a year an organization called Jewish Voice Ministries (they believe in Jesus, it gets confusing – translating who they were was interesting for Ethiopian Orthodoxers) sets up a clinic on the outskirts of Gondar that sees over 8,000 patients in four days. And it’s all free medical care.

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Reading glasses station

Reading glasses station

There were lines around the blocs for dental, eye care, medical, pediatrics, and sanitation sessions. People were queued through lines outside, waiting areas inside, and for one on one visits with doctors. Many of the volunteer translators and crowd control were street kids and tour guides I see daily in Piazza. It was so great to see them volunteering, and when I praised them for it you could see how proud they were to be helping.

I randomly came across this giant operation through word of mouth. Being a volunteer (read… foreigner) in Gondar I was ushered straight in and given a visitor’s badge. I could walk freely through the different “wards” and even helped with a bit of translating (surprising everyone…. of course). I saw people from all around the city that I knew, including one little girl who goes to school across the street from my house.

Triage station

Triage station with a volunteer doctor from Addis Ababa, and some med students from University of Gondar

waiting in line

waiting in line

Every patient was given a pink prescription card, which helped them through the process. The amount of organization was actually quite impressive. Different coloured bracelets for different wards, a general flow and lots of Gondar area volunteers helping people understand where they needed to go next.

with her prescription card

with her prescription card

the hygiene and sanitation session

the hygiene and sanitation session

After patients had been through whichever station they needed, they were sent to a pharmacy to pick up any medication that was prescribed by the volunteer doctors. On the way out, everyone was given a session on hand washing and water hygiene as well as a LifeStraw, which is a personal water filter. Over 8,000 of these were distributed throughout the week.

picked up her medication

picked up her medication

it's for clean water, silly! This little girl stuck by my side the whole presentation

it’s for clean water, silly! This little girl stuck by my side the whole presentation

showing off his skills

showing off his skills

The whole thing popped up and cleaned up in less than a week. Off to Zambia, the group do these “pop up clinics” all over the world, where former Jewish tribes are rumored to be. Gondar, being the site for a lot of Israeli aid, is the only site in Ethiopia where this event occurs. The entire operation was, at least for the two hours I stopped by, well organized, well stocked, and fairly calm even though some of the people had been waiting half the day. Small and simple surgeries were performed in a room upstairs, and more complicated ones (like cataracts on one patient who is a student at the blind school) were referred to the local University of Gondar hospital. People came from all over the city to ask their questions and get checked out for free. Many times, while going to a clinic in the Ethiopian healthcare system is free (once you register the first time – 10 birr), the medications to treat are paid out of pocket. For many people, that means they wait too long to seek care, and sometimes it is too late.

Giant pop up clinics, while a major operation, are a time people can come to find diagnoses early, and will hopefully act on those within the national health care system as quickly as possible. They aren’t sustainable, but if a quick diagnosis and free meds will help, once a year it’s not a bad thing at all.

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