9 Days in Ethiopia

Well its definitely been a while since I submitted my last blog but definitely wanted to send a quick update and tell you a lil bit about my trip to Ethiopia.

I’ve had almost 4 months off for school now – where did the summer go? I have noo idea! I moved into an a new apartment – just 2 blocks from my old place – so big and spacious. Am living with my good friends Ellie and Rosa and my closest and fav friend here Amanda. My good friend Maria (from college) came when school and stayed for the month of June. It was soo great to see her – haven’t seen each other since college! She got to experience a bit of my crazy life here in Egypt. July was a quiet month but I was doing a lot of English tutoring, working (volunteer) at my legal aid job with the refugees, and working on my thesis proposal. I’m meeting with a professor this coming Wednesday so that I may submit my proposal and grant application (applying for a research grant from school to go to Liberia in January to conduct thesis research) – so cross your fingers for me! August quickly came and I spent 5 days up on the North Coast (Mediterranean) with the Egyptian family that I tutor for – who have really become my family and my home away from home. They’re just soo good to me and have been soo caring and helpful! I just love them (and I’m especially obsessed with their lil 1 year old son Kareem who is as equally obsessed with me – haha)

I traveled to Ethiopia on the 15th of August until the 24th – I went to visit the 2 children that my parents are sponsoring there. I went with my friend Sarah and we spent the first 2 days in the capital – Addis Ababa – where it was pouring rain, thundering, lightning and I couldn’t have been happier. We ate delicious food and even saw LUCY – our long lost ancestor! &x1F609 We took a very “local” bus for 7 hours to the town of Jimma and spent the night to wake up early on Wednesday morning to be greeted by the Plan International staff. They took us on a tour of surrounding villages to show us the projects that they;re working on (Sanitation, youth projects, education, clinics, HIV/AIDs awareness, water wells, etc.). After an hour’s drive we got to the site where we got outta the SUV and onto a mule!! I don’t do camels anymore nor do I do horses but the mule actually wasn’t too bad. It took us 3 1/2 hours to cover the terrain of some very beautiful sites as we climbed up 2 mountains to reach the homes of the children. Mohammedamin and Fatuma (10 and 11) are the 2 children that my parents are sponsoring. It was the most amazing experience and definitely a day that I will never forget as we got to spend the afternoon with them in their homes, talking to their families (through a translator of course as Ethiopia has over 80 languages – none of which include English, French, Spanish or Arabic). They were just beyond words in how they feel about my family and my parents support “even though you’re far away we thank god for you and pray for you and love you – you are our family”. They were just too sweet. It was also a great day because it was the ONLY day during our time in Ethiopia that it didn’t rain!! As happy as I was at first to see the rain it got old after a bit and was truly excited to return to the dryness and heat of Cairo. We went up north after Jimma to Bahir Dar where we saw the source of the Blue Nile and visited monastaries on the islands of the lake that is there. I traveled 11 hours on a bus (SICK AS A DOG) back to Addis on the 23 and flew out that night back to Cairo. It was overall a great trip but was just the wrong time of year to do it since it was the rainy season. Ethiopia is an
extremely beautiful country and so rich in culture that its a great place to visit (and the food is extremely delicious!).

Classes start on the 5th but then we get a week off for the Islamic holiday of Eid al Fitr – to celebrate the ending of Ramadan – the month of fasting. I decided to join my friends and have been fasting as well. I do not eat or drink (no water, gum, candy, food, etc.) from sunrise to sunset. Sunset is marked by breaking the fast with Iftar (breakfast) and then everyone goes to cafes or out in the streets. Its fairly quiet during the day as work hours are cut shorter and many people try to spend as much time indoors and at home as possible (to either sleep the day away or at least avoid the Cairo heat). It’s nice in that it gives one the chance to experience what the poor are like – to feel how hungry they are and the starvation that they experience. The first few days were the most difficult as I felt sick, lightheaded, dizzy, nauseaus but after the 5th day or so I was good to go and now its like “normal”. “Dinner” is sehour in which people either wait up all night or sleep and then awake (men walk through the streets ringing bells to walk people up so that they do not miss it) in which they usually eat beans (foul – pronounced fool) and eggs, bread, cheese to give them some nourishment to last them through the day. I even fasted while I was in Ethiopia which was difficult at first as we did a lot of walking and a couple of days we did some hiking but I really just wanted to try it for myself and to see if I had the will power to not take a sip of water or a nibble of food. It lasts for a month – ends Sept 9 – so a lil less than 2 weeks to go now.

This is my last semester of classes since I will have to write my thesis in the spring. I am taking International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights in Africa, a PsychoSocial class and getting credit (have to write 2 papers) for my role as Academic Director for STAR.

The next big travel plans include – hopefully – a trip to the International Criminal Court at the Hague in the Netherlands in October. It is actually a “fieldtrip” with the school to go there for a week. We are just awaiting the logisitics of the $$ to see if we’re able to do it or not. Would be the trip of a lifetime for sure as our “chaperone” – one of our fav professors – used to work there and knows everyone including the President so we will get to meet everyone. For those that do not know, The Hague is where they try huge offenders of human rights abuses such as Charles Taylor (former President of Liberia – for his actions in Sierra Leone – Remember the movie Blood Diamond? Yea, well he was behind a lot of that!), violators of the Serbian/Kosovo war and currently they’ve put out a warrant for Sudan’s President Bashir (Darfur???)! If we get the funding we will be heading there for a week in October. The other trip is a week in Turkey in NOvember – staying with Sarah who is “studying abroad from studying abroad” and most importantly JUSTIN is coming!! Can’t wait to see him. Most exciting news for all of YOU though is that I’m finally coming home in December – after 16 months – need to feel some American soil under my feet, see my family and friends and stuff myself on my dad’s steak and potatos! It will be the first Christmas in 4 years that I will finally be home for! Plan on being home around the 16th for 2 1/2 weeks! Can’t wait to see you all!

Much love,
~D

Check out my photos of Ethiopia here:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2047762&id=31601096&l=46a60ec34e

Want to support a child? It’s cheap and its going for a good cause – I can vouch for them!
http://plan-international.org/

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