July 29

Arrival and Project Start

I am working with Amref Heath Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Their vision is to create lasting health change in Africa with a mission of commitment to improving health by partnering with and empowering communities and strengthening health systems.  Priorities include health of women and children; HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria; diseases related to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); increasing access to medical services in disadvantaged communities; and developing stronger research and innovation.  My Pulse position includes supporting research publications and protocols, knowledge management, and capacity building to help ensure that the work I begin will continue after I leave.

Kaye (the other Pulse volunteer in Ethiopia) found us an apartment to rent (right by the UN) and we were able to move in the same day I arrived in Addis Ababa – so happy that I don’t have to lug my suitcases around anymore!   We are within walking distance of multiple restaurants, shops, and groceries; we just need to be aware of how much we buy because we have to carry it all home.

Our apartment building

Our apartment building

It is currently “winter” here, with storms occurring every afternoon/evening.  My office is about a 30-40 minute walk, so I am taking a taxi in the mornings and trying to walk home in the evenings – at least when there is not a downpour.

One of the first things I noticed after arriving was the construction – it is everywhere, but even more interesting is the use of tree branches for their scaffolding and to support their concrete forms.  I’m sure this method has been used for ages, but for a foreigner it looks precariously balanced.

The internet situation has been even worse than I was expecting.  There are only a few public places with Wi-Fi and the internet at my office my first week only worked for about 20 minutes.  So far the power cuts have been minimal, but our apartment has had sporadic days without water.  For people in areas with multiple power cuts and no generator, the Ever Cool refrigerator is available that offers more than 7 hours of cooling during long power cuts (it is great to see a product solving a real need).

The people have been very friendly, I’m learning my way to and from the important locations, and I’m even starting to learn a few words of Amharic (which is much more difficult to learn than Spanish or French).

Amharic has quite a few letters to learn!

Amharic has quite a few letters to learn (thanks Lonely Planet for trying to help)!