Tag Archives: Gondar

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.

Video

Gondar Camp GLOW Video

7 Sep

After battles with incompatible video, computer crashes, and awful editing software, I finally scraped together the 2013 Camp GLOW video. Sometimes simple is best. And putting the video together made me smile more over the past few days than anything else. Big thanks go to our partners the University of Gondar and Addis Ababa CCL Girls. And we wouldn’t be anywhere without funding from Peace Corps and PEPFAR. Last Camp GLOW post I promise! (until next year!)

A Simien Day Trek

22 Aug

Only 30 minutes north of my house are the beginnings of one of the most impressive mountain ranges in the world – the Simien Mountains. At least according to Planet Earth, their “Mountains” episode features the Simiens. Truthfully, I had never heard of this range before I came to Ethiopia, but that could because I had Colorado snob syndrome and will only ski on powder and hike the Rockies in the summer. I even caught myself saying “Ras Dashen isn’t even a 14er…” to someone… Rocky. Mountain. Snob.

But there is nothing like this topography in the Rockies. They call this area the “Grand Canyon of Ethiopia,” and for good reason. The sheer cliffs, crevices, and peaks are anything but typical.

A Panoramic View

A Panoramic View

So since the Cameroonians were in town, we jumped on their half day hike with our good friend and tour guide Robel. (Family, we will do this hike… bring yo boots!) We were able to see three endemic species (Lammergeyers aka vultures, Chilada baboons, and Colobos monkeys).

A Lammergeyer (vulture endemic to the Simiens) in the mist

A Lammergeyer (vulture endemic to the Simiens) in the mist

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So. Many. Baboons.

So. Many. Baboons.

Chilada Baboon in the mist (also endemic)

Chilada Baboon in the mist 

We hung out with some of the local farming kids (this whole Amharic speaking thing can be awesome). And circled around a herd? group? gaggle? of baboons. And clearly we had to do some photoshoots.

These kids were like mountain goats, I was so sure they were going to fall off the trail running after us!

These kids were like mountain goats, I was so sure they were going to fall off the trail running after us!

The whip sounded like gunshots

The whip sounded like gunshots

Me and my Morgans

Me and my Morgans

Ciara (Peace Corps Cameroon and fellow Boulderite and BUer) came to visit

Ciara (Peace Corps Cameroon and fellow Boulderite and BUer) came to visit

Cleary we had to do a jumping photo

Cleary we had to do a jumping photo

So I still love my Rocky Moutains, but I won’t complain about mountain withdrawal during service. In October we tackle the “big one” – Ras Dashen – the highest peak in Ethiopia. And turns out I was wrong… it is a 14er at 14,928 Ft (4,553 meters) though google seems to be conflicted (I saw one estimate at over 15,000 ft). Even the most solid things are contested here. I mean, I am still in Ethiopia.

 

A Soccer Ball, A Rock, and a Hard Place

20 Aug

An old acquaintance from undergrad came through last week; she happens to be in Peace Corps Cameroon. Turns out, I don’t want to go to Cameroon (central Africa), and after a long conversation with those volunteers I walked away with a new appreciation of Ethiopia. But the one thing that apparently Cameroon doesn’t have that Gondar certainly does: homeless kids.

Big cities. Economic growth. Tourism. There are so many positive things about those three phenomenon, but it is also the perfect storm for poverty. Many of the children who come into Gondar came from rural villages in order to make money in the biggest city in the area. Many of them have lost their parents to disease or worse. Many of them make their money selling gum, or begging. So what happens during low season, when the rains come, and the tourists flee? You get a lot of kids living on the street.

These OVCs (orphans and vulnerable children as they are known in the industry), are at the highest risk for HIV, malnutrition, physical and sexual abuse, and general hard times.

So with the help of a local NGO, a flock of Israeli volunteers in town for a short period, and a lot of soccer balls, we put together a summer camp over three weeks. I provided the programming, they provided the space and the food (yes, free food is an international language).

The Grassroot Soccer Program with Indestructible Ball!

The Grassroot Soccer Program with Indestructible Ball!

The program goes through 11 sessions of HIV prevention techniques – life-skills, understanding the disease, stigma and support, gender issues, the ABCs of protection (Abstinence, Be Faithful, Condoms), and avoiding risky situations. We are one of the first programs in Ethiopia, though the SKILLZ curriculum is currently done in about 25 Peace Corps countries in Africa and South America. It comes from the Grassroot Soccer organization based in South Africa (Cape Town), and was founded by former Zimbabwe soccer players, one of whom won Survivor: Africa in 2002.

We ran three concurrent programs with 63 street kids (about 20 per team). I trained two local NGO workers from Yenega Tesfa who run the mobile school for street kids, and brought in my trusty co-worker Edward who had already been trained on the program in May.

We were lucky enough to have six soccer balls donated from USAID for our Camp GLOW program, which I appropriated for a few more weeks.

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The entire program was done in Amharic, so having trained myself out of a job like a good volunteer, I got to take photos. One of our challenges, however, was the fact that many of these kids are illiterate, having been to school off and on over their lives. We worked around that with conversations, games, and an oral pre and post test (gotta have that Monitoring & Evaluation).

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Know how to assess a risky situation - RED CARD!

Know how to assess a risky situation – RED CARD!

Six goalies are better than one. Condoms are better than none.

Six goalies are better than one. Condoms are better than none.

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We also didn’t really have a budget, so goals were done with rocks, props were pieces of paper, and limbo sticks were brook poles. But that’s the great thing about this program, it doesn’t need much to implement. The fact that we had balls at all was pretty great, and every time I brought the big sack from my office, I looked like a strange Santa walking the streets of Gondar. But we had new kids joining all throughout the first week as word got around about the program.

HIV Limbo - The lower the pole means the older a sexual partner, the higher the risk for HIV

HIV Limbo – The lower the pole means the older a sexual partner, the higher the risk for HIV

Christmas in Gondar

Christmas in Gondar

I was afraid at first that some of the topics would be too advanced, too sensitive, or that the giggling would override the message. But this is a real issue in Africa, and the kids understood that. I had to take my notions of 10th grade health class off the table, and I was thoroughly impressed by the participation and seriousness of the kids, between the fun.

juggling multiple sexual partners (and mutliple soccer balls) makes it hard to make your "goals"

juggling multiple sexual partners (and multiple soccer balls) makes it hard to make your “goals”

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a little gymnast

a little gymnast

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOverall the program went well. The kids all said it was “arif naw!” (awesome), and that they really learned things (especially about condoms). But I think the most rewarding part for me, is after living in Gondar for almost 8 months, my name is known. The kids recognize me, they sing my energizer on the streets, and give each other “kilos” (a version of praise) outside the program. The lessons were in important, but the community created was exceptional.

At graduation to hear 63 kids whooping and hollering about certificates, chanting my name (literally) was almost overwhelming. But then somebody started a song, and it all continued on.

Graduation

Graduation

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Here are some of the Kilos and energizers the kids loved, as well as some more photos:

Energizers - https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10153153986665523

Kilos - https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10153153985320523

Photos - https://www.facebook.com/media/set/set=a.10153153998840523.1073741830.640805522&type=1&l=119c599546

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