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Ethiopia by E-mail

Subject: Good morning from Addis
Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2006 04:08:15 -0500
From: Pat Rollin parollin9923@hotmail.com

We hope you are all enjoying Spring since it arrived last week. We have now started to get the short rains in Addis which have been every two or three days but have had thunderstorms with them. So we have seen a beautiful double rain out our window before the rain started at our apartment. We tried to catch rain water but we did not get much and it was dirty so we did not try again. We have had a very interesting two weeks.

The water in our apartment went out on March 13 and we thought it would only be out a little while. At night we saw one of the guards watering the flowers but we still had no water so Jim went out to talk to him to find out what was going on. The guard told Jim in broken English that the pump was broken and they would have the part the next day but we could get water on the first floor in the middle of the building from a hose. So Jim thanked him and we used our buckets that day. We had a lot of bottled water that we had boiled and some we were not sure if it was boiled anymore so we used all the water for the next couple of days.

On Friday one of the guards told Jim it would be a week because they were having the pump rewound and it would take that long. So on Saturday Nathan and Mel were nice and let us take showers at their house. So we walked over to their place for some exercise before our showers. On Monday one of the guards told Jim it would be fixed the next day but it was not.

On Wednesday the man who we called about maintenance from the University told Jim the water had been fixed on Tuesday so we were wondering why a few people were still carrying water and Jim checked with Sandyha and they did not have water yet. So Jim called Burhanu back to say he had checked and we still had no water.

On Wednesday we went to Nathan and Mel's for showers and dinner again. On Thursday Jim called from AAU to tell me he had good news and bad news. Sandyha had received a phone call that her apartment was flooding which meant we had water. So I went home and washed a load of clothes and filled all the buckets, bottles and pans I could find in case the water went out again.

We went to dinner at Bombay Brassiere and when we got home Jim said we have no water again. So we went to bed and the next morning the water was back on and was on all day Friday. So we will see what happens. I know it is a little thing but I was really happy to hear we had water. Carrying water was not too bad only one floor down and in the middle of the building. I am not sure I have told you but the building has four wings and is in the shape of an H with an elevator and stairways in the middle of the building but the elevator does not stop on our floor because we are considered the first floor in Ethiopia and you have to walk up or you can catch the elevator to the 2nd floor and walk down. So we are at the beginning of the hall and have to walk to the middle of the building down one flight of steps and out to the parking lot to get the hose. I went one morning early and a lot of people were getting water so there was a line of two when I arrived and more came behind me. I was waiting my turn and started filling my buckets when one lady asked where is your servant. She offered to carry my buckets up stairs but I told her I was carrying and thanked her. I am sure she felt I should have a servant and not do it myself. Of course I only took the smaller buckets. Jim always took the biggest buckets to get filled. One morning besides not having water we did not have electricity for an hour and a half so with water and electricity today I feel really blessed.

Jim has been busy with getting all the placements set up for the first year students. He has finished and they start their placement on Monday. He is now teaching at the Police College one day a week (Tuesday) so this week Ato Mamo took him to the college to see what he was doing and the driver brought him back home after class.

I have been busy too. On Tuesday I went with Becky from Colorado to have lunch at the Sheraton my first time there and then we were catching a contract cab when Becky saw a little boy who she had met on the street so she decided to go into the village across the street from the Sheraton to see his house. I was going to go with her but the cab driver said we should leave our bags in the cab so they did not get stolen in the village. I was going to take my mobile phone out of my back pack when I could not find it so Becky went to the village and I walked back to the Sheraton to find my mobile which was in the chair where we had had lunch. I walked back and waited for Becky to come our of the village. (in Addis all neighborhoods are called villages). While waiting the men around the cab stand asked me how I liked Ethiopia and the Sheraton. I explained to them I liked Ethiopia and had been here for a year now but this was the first time I had been to the Sheraton but I was not staying at the Sheraton. The Sheraton was nice but while you are there you are not in Ethiopia, it is like any Sheraton or big hotel chain in any city you would like to think you were in. They had beautiful gardens, a fountain and pool where we had lunch and the only sign you are not in the USA is that you go through metal detectors at the door. Most of the people who live just outside the gates of the Sheraton are not allowed on the grounds. It is surrounded by a huge wall with armed guards at the gate. The man was interested but still thought I was a rich American and then I told them Jim was volunteering at AAU teaching and we would be here until August but we lived on Bole.

Becky had asked me to go to the Trampled Rose NGO to try to teach the women to crochet so I had a backpack filled with yarn and crochet and knitting needles and went out with her to the new compound. It is bigger and on the main road so it is easier for transportation. They have new people staying there and have between 15 and 30 people. I am not sure how much they are learning because of my not speaking Amharic and their not speaking English I am not sure my teaching is working out well but we will see. I also have bought them some books because they are learning Amharic on Saturdays because a lot of them are from small villages outside of Addis and have not been to school and some are from villages where they speak other languages. So they are trying to get them all to understand each other. Although some of the women speak a couple of languages so that has helped. They have two children one 9 and one 11 who are being treated. They also have a 4 month old baby girl with her mother which is unusual because most of the time the babies die at birth because of the long labor which causes a lot of fistulas. Because of no medical caregivers they can be in labor for 48 hours to a week until they call a midwife in the village who helps them but they are not really trained medical people just someone that helps when they can.

So on Thursday I went out again and took colored pencils, some coloring books, a drawing pad and a book for them. I was thinking that the children needed something to do but all the women liked the items I took so a lot of them sat on the ground coloring and drawing pictures. Rose and Scarlet who are both Fulbrighters were at the compound and Rose can knit so she was showing a couple of women how to knit and Scarlet was showing the women how to draw on the drawing pad and they were making pictures. They were looking at the book I took, Kaldi and the dancing goats. It is the story of how they found coffee in the Kaffe region of Ethiopia but it is a very colorful picture book. So a couple of the women are really trying to crochet and I will probably go back next week to work some more. While we were there Becky had to go to the hospital to check on some ladies so we just visited. The ladies all seem really happy to see people and I have learned a few more Amharic words. After Becky came back she had a meeting with the finance person and we watched them put the sign up for the compound. I was looking around and across the street from the compound is a beautiful wooded area and just behind is a cemetery. So Becky and I walked to the church which Cemetery was behind the wooded area and to the cemetery. On the way we found a booth selling religious items and we both bought some crosses. Which is when Jim called about the water and a placement for Becky's NGO. We walked to the cemetery where they have graves of all kinds. We were told that if you have a metal cover on your grave you were rich and the fancier the cover the richer you were. I will include the one picture I took of the graves in the email. I took a picture of a couple of boys and an older man and hopefully I will get them developed and we can get them to them if we can find them again in the church yard or cemetery.

Then we went to lunch and I came home to check on the water, go to see my yarn lady, get milk and came home and washed a load of clothes. Which did not get dry before the rain storm so we are still drying some of them in the house, hanging everywhere. Of course when it rains nothing dries very good. I cleaned the apartment on Friday and we tried a new restaurant and found out it was somehow connected with Bombay because one of the waitress is working there now and the one man also spends time at Bombay. So we had ordered and then the man send us a fish dish and a lamb dish free. They did not have chicken at all because of fasting and they have had worries about bird flu.

Spider It is damp with the rains and we are getting more bugs. I have attached a picture of a spider that Jim took in our apartment. The spider is about 3 inches from tip of the leg to tip of the leg. If anyone can identify it please let us know what it is. We don't have good access to browse the web and we don't have access to good reference books.

We just got back from the NGO Bazaar where we bought a few things. I got Easter cards to mail some of the people that don't get my emails.

We hope this note finds everyone doing well and getting ready for Easter and spring planting.

Pat and Jim


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