Sleeping Under the Bednet

Following  on the last post, here is another aspect of life in Africa- perhaps more of the reality. Beneath the glamor of my lovely charming new accommodation, here is what’s actually happening inside:

Mosquitoes, flies and many more

Bahir Dar is in the malaria zone and I am taking my antimalarials, using my mosquito repellent and sleeping under a bednet faithfully.

We are by the lake and the rainy season is approaching. Hitting mosquitoes is one of my past time activity, though not my favorite. So far, those that have air-raided my house and bombed down by me with my bare hands are of the Culex species, not the Anopheles that carries the malaria parasites.

Flies are of a particular nuisance when walking down the streets. So dont be too surprised to see my head twitching from side to side as if I am having a tic.

This morning, I was awaken by a loud buzzing noise that sounded like the bulldozer from the construction site. It was actually made by a large black hornet 1.5inch long. I frantically got my DDT spray and shot it down after 3 attempts! Haha!

Just killed a  spider- now I am really concerned about DDT resistance since I am using it so indiscriminately.

Did I tell you there is no water in the house? Yes, you saw taps, showers, sinks,  toilets…but there is no water  coming out as those items are “non-functional”, but of course sometimes it can be due to  shortage of water supply as well.

So here is how my daily routine goes:

Collect water from this tap. I am grateful I dont have to go to a well.

Save the water in buckets and use it sparingly, resourcefully in a recyclable fashion from washing hands to washing dishes… The same amount of water will be used over and over again till it is so filthy to justify its final use  for flushing the toilet or watering the mango trees.

This is my daily quota of water for a sponge bath.

The water is dirty filled with mud. There is a dilemma here. You want to wash something clean, but with dirty water, it makes the item to be washed even dirtier!
In order to make it clean and safe to drink, I have to boil the water and filter it (Filter was provided by CUSO-VSO to all volunteers). The filtered water has a bitter lime taste.

Right now the electricity supply is very satisfactory with only  intermittent interruptions lasting may be 30 minutes to an hour.

Power outage is especially worse when it rains and or there are thunder storms.I have stocked up on candles and matches as other volunteers have warned that during the rainy season, the power outage can last for days.

Same goes for the internet. Intermittent with frequent cut offs. The adaptation is to write shorter messages or to save repeatedly for the work you do on the computer before everything is lost when the power goes out. I am also using a surge protector.

I guess this is Africa. It is amazing how far Ethiopia has come along despite all the hardships and difficulties the country is facing. Just like  my house, the country has lots of potentials, yet it still has many existing problems such as  lack of infrastructures and healthy functioning systems. Much more work is to be done. Surely and slowly…they will be there.

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My First Days in Bahir Dar

It has been eleven days since I arrived in Africa to start my new life as a volunteer and it’s high time for me to write  my first post. As a picture speaks a million words, I’ll try to attach as many pictures as possible with brief explanations  to give a better picture.

I landed at Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia , late May 16 night. After two days of intensive in-country training at the Ethiopia VSO Office, I was sent off to my placement location- Bahir Dar on May 21.

Bahir Dar is 560km from Addis Ababa and it usually takes 2 days to get there by road. Now the Ethiopian Airline has 2 flights each day connecting Bahir Dar to the capital. The flight takes about an hour and it’s pretty full.

Flight by Ethiopian Airline from Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar.

Bahir Dar is situated by Lake Tana (also known as the Jewel of Ethiopia), which is the source of the Blue Nile River.

Lake Tana, picture taken from Ghion Hotel, a favorite hang-out spot for both locals and ferengis (foreigners)

Instead of ordering a jug/pint, people here usually order beer by the tall column with a tap by the side.

Let’s take you a visual tour of my house, provided by CUSO-VSO. You can tell it’s more geared for ferengis ( ferengis =foreigners in the Amharic language) yet there are many local features to it which I’ll explain later. It’s a very charming and spacious house. I do feel a bit guilty living in such a “luxurious” environment while the locals are living in very humble and modest settings in my neighborhood.

This is my neighborhood.

My house, inside a gated and walled compound

Front yard with mango, guava and avocado trees. Salad, anyone?

My bedroom

Living room- It’s so spacious another volunteer is thinking of running a yoga class here.

My dining and working area

Soccer field across my house. The boys are diligently practicing their drills.

Locals relaxing in the shade outside my door, watching soccer games.

Road construction outside my house with bulldozer buzzing as early as 5am

Obviously Ethiopia is growing fast, catching up with modernization and urbanization. With this comes all the associated problems.  Inflation rate is high. I was told the rent for houses like mine had doubled just in a couple of months. The gap between the rich and poor is gigantic.

So let me repeat. I am not living in a grass hut with a thatched roof. This is not Ethiopia today, at least not in some blooming cities. More to follow in my next post.

Hello Everyone

Hello Everyone,

I will be working as a Cuso International volunteer starting May 16, 2012 in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

With the unpredictable intermittent electricity supply and internet access in Africa, I wish to use this blog to connect with you all wherever you are on the globe.

I would like to share with you updates of my daily life, my work and the exciting experiences I have as a volunteer.

This will be the journal of my African journey (with photos, videos and many more…)

Hope you enjoy it.

Why dont you sign up so that you know when a new post from me  has been added?

Angela Lee

Cuso International volunteer

PS  The views expressed in this blog are my own and do not reflect those of Cuso International.