So you’re probably wondering what I’m actually doing in Ethiopia (Ïtyop’ya), so I’ll fill you in on my assignment. The mission of PC is to promote world peace and friendship by:
1. Sending trained volunteers to developing countries that have requested assistance to help the people meet their basic needs
2. Promoting a better understanding of Americans to other peoples served (share the goodness of American culture with Ethiopians)
3. Promoting a better understanding of other peoples to Americans (share the goodness of Ethiopian culture with Americans)
In a nutshell, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health requested PC’s assistance to develop the capacity of hospitals, health posts, health centers, organizations and communities to plan, coordinate and deliver HIV/AIDS services. My official job title is a Community HIV/AIDS Advisor , and to prepare for our future work, we have intensive training for the first 10 weeks in country. The components include the following trainings: language, cultural/host family, safety and security, personal health, and technical/skills.
About halfway during training, we will be assigned to our permanent site, and also to an Ethiopian counterpart, who will be of great help to us once we are settled in. The first three months at site we will be responsible for doing a community needs assessment (CNA). Basically, we are here to involve the community in which we live in everything we do – we are here to assist and share ideas, not lead. PC does work under 3 pillars in the HIV/AIDS realm: Prevention, Care & Support, and with Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs). We’ll be working from the bottom up, as we are not yet sure of what our community actually needs. Our perceived needs could be very different from their actual needs, and that’s why we’ll spend 3 whole months assessing our site. Nothing is set in stone as to what each volunteer will be doing, but after our CNA, we will have 2 years to complete a primary project within our community with an identified host organization (secondary projects are allowed).
I won’t know for about another month as to where I will be living permanently, but I’ll keep y’all (miss that word!) posted. If you have any questions, feel free to email me – not sure when I’ll be able to respond, but remember that T.I.A. (this is Africa) and not everything runs on a tight schedule or is at your fingertips, as it is in America :)