Ethiopia HARD Response

Part of the HARD response included Ethiopia. Tristen and I had arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia shortly after midnight on August 15. Our mission was to perform assessments of the two Dolo’s in South Eastern Ethiopia. What I remember most about arriving in Ethiopia was the flight attendants announcement. She informed the passengers that we were to refrain from smoking until we were off the plane.

Normally, this is a sound request from flight crew. However, here in Ethiopia, once you had two feet off the plane, you could light up. Walking the gangway to immigration where everyone was smoking! Definitely a first for me and as a smoker I was not complaining. Once we had cleared immigration and received our tourist visas, it was off to the hotel. We would be staying at the four star Kaleb Hotel, which is not far from the World Vision Ethiopia country office.

Challenges

The WV Ethiopia office is the largest office in the partnership. To this date, I do not think I have seen so many WV Toyota Land Cruisers in one location. However, the office size was not the challenge we faced. We needed to get to Dolo, which was not going to be as easy as anticipated. We had learned that in order to go to areas of operations, we needed business visas. No matter how much money the organization had, getting visas was not an easy task.

Not knowing if this was even possible or how long it would take, we patiently waited. Apparently there were also additional issues with the government. We were kind of caught off guard and not ready for this development, so we had time to get to know Addis. At the same time, I was working on helping with the HEAT course that would be happening the week of the 22nd.

Given the challenges of not being able to complete our mission, it was time for some tourism.

Addis Ababa

If you ever get an opportunity to visit Ethiopia, you will find that it is a proud country. The Ethiopians will forever remind you that they have never been colonized. Sure, the Italians were here during the second world war, but that was more of an occupation. Notwithstanding, there are few touristy places to see in Addis.

The greatest landmark in Addis is the Magnificent Holy Trinity Orthodox Church. This landmark with its three blue domes is a site to be marveled. Churches seemed to always be on the list of things to visit in WV…probably the Christian thing.

Night Life

We were not in Addis long enough to explore in earnest the night life. However, we did have an opportunity to explore the local culture. During one evening out, we went to the 2000 Habesha Cultural restaurant. Now, for starters, Ethiopian cuisine is an acquired taste. Utensils are not common either, one eats with their hands using the local injara bread.

I personally do not have a fondness for the injara, I find it is heavy and quite filling. We did have a colleague, Kris, who could eat 5-6 rolls of injara…how I have no idea. I had a hard enough time eating one! What I did enjoy, was the Tej, the Ethiopian honey wine. With this, I had no issue washing down the heavy injara.

The entertainment at the restaurant was amazing. The tables were situated around a stage, where performances would occur throughout the evening. The most mind blowing performance was the Oromo dance. This is where women do a crazy head spin where you have to wonder how their head stays on!

Leaving Ethiopia

With the difficulties in trying to get business visas, it appeared we would not be able to complete our mission. It turned out that it was easier for my partner, Zaza, to get a business visa in Turkey. Since he could get that quicker, he was slated to do the Dolo assessments. This meant after 5 days in Addis, I would return to Nairobi and prepare for the HEAT course the week of the 22nd. I departed Ethiopia on Saturday, August 20 for Nairobi.

I would not be returning to my five star hotel in Nairobi, but instead moving into an apartment.

Next Story – Nairobi HEAT

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