Tuesday, January 12, 2010

FAM (Farm Animal Massacre) Day

I enjoy making up acronyms of my own, so I will continue to do so…this day in particular is also known as Christmas (or Lidet, here in Ityop’ya, celebrated on 4.29.2002/January 7). Chickens, goats, sheep – hope you had a nice life, as so many of you have recently become something delicious for others to enjoy on their holiday! For the sake of those who love meat, I’m glad Lidet fell on a Thursday this year (as Wednesday and Fridays are country-wide fasting days – no meat!). On [Ethiopian] Christmas morning, I woke up to the sheep my landlords had purchased at the market the previous Saturday, dead, hanging upside down from a ladder in my compound. It was being slaughtered…first Christmas morning I’ve had of that sort…

So I have been at site for a little over 3 weeks now – the initial adjustment has been a bit tougher than I thought it would be, but I’m just taking things one day at a time. As they say here, kas bïkas (slowly)…I really like my town, and I feel as though Northern Ityop’ya is rather modern in comparison to the other parts I’ve visited. I am very fortunate to be near a big town – and have found many modern amenities there (even pizza!). There are some touristy/historical things to do/see in Mekele, so I need to get on that in the near future.

Luckily, we were able to travel for the other Christmas, so 12 of us volunteers met up in Mekele…we had an amazing feast, followed by holiday bingo! and a trip to the movies. There is a theater in Mekele that alternates between an English film and an Amharic film every 2 weeks. 2012, starring John Cusack was playing – I wouldn’t recommend it (I’m not usually a fan of action/unrealistic movies), but the experience of going to see a movie was totally worth it, big screen and all! New Year’s, however, was absolutely boring – I stayed up until midnight to wish myself a “Happy New Year”, then promptly went to bed…Here, the new year won’t be celebrated until what the rest of the world knows as September 11th. I still set new years resolutions/personal goals for my service…and will do so again in 9 months.

Slowly, my home is coming together – it’s hard (and internally stressful) moving into a completely unfurnished place, as IKEA/Bed Bath and Beyond/Target don’t exist here! You can’t just run to the store and buy a piece of furniture (maybe in Addis), bring it home, and enjoy it. You have to have furniture made by a carpenter, which takes a bit of time/money, but it’s custom made. My dresser will be ready soon, and I’m really looking forward to not living out of my suitcases any longer.

I’ve been doing “community discovery/integration” these past few weeks, and it’s going well. My town is small, but it has a lot to offer and the people are extremely nice. I haven’t had any kids throw rocks as me, which is good sign. I still get “CHINA/FARENJI/YOU!” all day every day, which is annoying, but some kids are picking up on my name, or they at least say AMERIKAWIT (American) instead of CHINA!, which is like music to my ears. There is much less animal traffic through my town than where I was during training, and I can’t complain about that. I have seen many a camel since arriving, which is always a highlight of my day, as they are such unique creatures…don’t know if you’ve ever walked beside one…they’re just interesting.

I have my work cut out for me with my CNA for the next couple months - basically, I just have to get out there and gather any/all information related to HIV/AIDS in the area. And see what the people need, not what I think would be appropriate for them…This past week there was a big vaccination campaign – Retinol (vit A), Iodine, and de-worming tablets were administered to children age 6 months – 5 years, so as to prevent blindness, goiter, and worms. UNICEF sponsored the campaign, and it was free for those who sought the service. We got a great response in my town, so that’s encouraging. Wish me luck with my data collection/research and I’ll keep you updated with my findings! Happy New Year and may it be a good one for all of you out there.

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