Ethiopian NGO life gets along
Addis Ababa Travel Blog› entry 5 of 23 › view all entries
August 19 - 20 - 21 -22
On the 19th, Laura arrived.
In the evening we all went with the car to pick her up at the airport. What a silly system, you need to go to an office to get a ticket to get in the airport then queue to have your ticket checked and then another queue to go through screening. Finally you get into that bloody airport.
That was really a dumb experience. So we made our way home directly and showed her the place. It was especially great to receive my computer's driver cds and also a lot of other threats from home.
So I took some chocolate while immediately working on my computer. She arrived late at night, as most flight does. So the evening went quick and she headed to sleep.
The following days were pretty normal, I got bored with the office as I really had nothing to do by now since I finished reading all materials we had available at the office. So it become pretty frustrating as Colin did have some work but not me and we had meeting were I felt left aside as I had stopped following the goals since it wasn't my task and I couldn't fully follow up in regard of planning.
The 21st was reserved for a field observation day, which I organised. Since we are working on slums improvement, it is quite the basic point to at least tour the different issues we will meet and have a better understanding of the local situation. So I asked Teferra earlier to set a tour involving a non-improved slum, a slum that received previous improvement project, one of the government condominium project and Aware Market that I read from in some government paper.
So we started the day all jumping into the tiny QQ car heading toYeka to see a condominium project, which had been started by GTZ.
So the buildings are being settled but no services are really showing up, they are left to the community taking over. We definitely know that without support the local communities will not take the appropriate steps in term of waste management, green infrastructure and such.
On our way back to the centre of Addis, we passed through Aware Market, that project is simply on paper. But we could see the receiving base. Actually, some of the side house had been destroyed to receive the upgrading (enlargement) of the road. Will this be a success. I have no idea. Although it was not a nice part to be on, I did some pictures of the type of houses but after a while the local population was being annoyed of us and started ousting us (well making comment, which were quickly translated by Teferra that we will be leaving soon.
We headed to the city centre to Tekle Haimanot Slum Neighbourhood, in the middle of Addis just off the city centre and Piazza and at the edge of Merkato. This slum had been improved and was a good neighbourhood to walk in as safe and nobody bothered you.
The pavement was improved as well as some basic services. So it was great to see and it made my brain work on brainstorming some issues to find some solutions and management ways. The silly way though was the church land, the church is an extremely powerful element in Ethiopia. Dumbly too powerful and like any Church institution, it simply think and values it own wealth and needs careless of the community of blind followers-believers.
So the church of Tekle Haimanot simply ended up refusing any involvement into the project that was going on in their neighbourhood.
This still proves my personal thought that churches are a disease to society and that the public realm should really tackle them down. The built heritage of church is a great thing to the community. But the fucking opium that comes with it, definitely is a cancer to the Ethiopian society (and anywhere else too �" think about islam!)
I still found that day pretty interesting, the last place we drove through, as it was too dangerous and not safe enough to do any how else, was to go through the slums of Merkato/Addis Ketema.
We had a pretty well and educative completed day, I immediately spent the following days writing down some paper in regard to what I had seen and understood from this tour.
That Friday, we met for the first time with DUPPI representant, not the official but a planner working for DUPPI to discuss the project. I got updated that the country does not have any policies in regard of slums management, but neither do they have any indicators or official definition of what is a slum. So to me it became a priority to do such paper, as how can you work on the land, if actually nobody has a formal and similar understanding of what is a slum.
I hope that this very busy week for the project would at least involving some tangible result and we would aim at specific objective, but the coming month would prove me wrong and make me even more bitter… as nothing moved and I ended up having nothing to do… again.
August 23 - 24 - 25 - 26 -27 - 28 - 30 - 31
That week end we ended up going to another NGO staff party, well this time it was in Wollo Sefer, quite near our house. We had some nice lunch there and some talk though I feel that the UN/UNICEF/FAO crowd is not really mine, I don’t feel anything in common in term of values and discussion. In fact I find most pretty superficial.
Anyway, we drove all the way up to the north to a house party at an Italian house, drank some more and talked to people as the evening went.
The following ending days of August went by in a pretty boring routine mood. Involving supermarket, TV and office.
Ah this morning I woke up but noticed there was loads of things to be done in the house and around that we always pushed forward. So I started sweeping, and finally continued to do the whole house. I also washed the bath tub which suddenly came back white: ohoh that is certainly meaning something.
I saw a bug again, amai, I thought the mothballs Laura brought had made them fully vanished. I had not seen any for the past week, not a single one even no dead cadaver in the tub.
So I also rearranged the house and furniture as I moved it to sweep but most especially now took charge of my room. I had been sleeping on the couch for my first month (which didn't bother me, I was in the living room and had control of the TV) and then when Laura was here in the same room as Colin in the spare camping bed we got into the house. So now that Laura decided to leave the house and not live with us, I took the room that we had kept for her and cleaned the furniture, put my sheets on the bed and removed my clothes off my suitcase to store them in the furniture!! It was time I did that.
Then, we also only had one key for the front porch of the house so I talked to Robel (our landlord son) and we went to a key cutter to get a new one. So we now would have a back door key as a spare one. Only the compound gate key can not be copied, or at a very expensive process style, it is a laser cut key after all.
We live in quite a fairly bungalow, concrete/brick made house.
On the way to the other side of the house there is the tiny middle hallway leading to the front door (where we have a covered balcony).
Then the other half of the house is the large living room on the front of the house, with many couches and our tv and some other thing to sit on the ground. Behind it all open, we have our dinner table and large cabinet with dishes, which we never use anyway. and a door to lead to our tiny kitchen which has our fridge and freezer, cabinet for other stuff... though we use it minimum as it most likely have cockroaches. There is also our 2 fire propane stove and the backdoor.
Behind our house is the service building, for the maid guard and such. Although on our case it is the landlord family and maid that lives there. We are having pretty good terms with them and their son comes to visit and hang around with us every other day.
Our compound is surrounded by a high concrete wall, luckily in spite of many other compound having such, ours does not use any barbwire (I would hate that), there is glass to protect us from any intruder attempting to jump. The ground is covered by concrete but we have plenty of plants and trees over. One of neighbour is actually a 5 storey block, which was fully empty for the past years until about 2 weeks ago.
We live about 3 streets parallel to the main road, (basically in the middle of 2 main roads) which can be accessed through dirt road. So it is anyway pretty calm.
So I spent the rest of the day at the office and used Internet and worked a little bit on Colin's text doing some proofreading of it.
hmm that's about it I think, it was a calm day but eh.
Today was a long day, we had training at the office. A trainer came and it was about BPR (Business Process Reengineering) and Administration process. That is definitely not something I ever studied before so it was extremely interesting to learn more about it, especially since every organisations and government authorities in Addis Ababa is currently underdoing that process of restructuration. Hence we can't deal with them so far as they aren't doing anything else until they completed that process by October.
By noon we had a meal at Addis Cuisine (across the street from our office) which was paid by our organisation. The meal was good, I had vegetarian Penne, yum!
So by the evening I used the computer a bit before going home and do the usual of watching TV. We have a pretty good satellite TV system (which is odd knowing that every house has a perfect satellite TV, boost by Middle East Channels, but that Internet is primitive and impossible to get).
We also have all the Qatar, Al Jazeera, Abu Dhabi, and such news... and Arrirang and other Korean news.
So for moment like the Georgian Conflict or the olympics, we had it well covered.
We also have many movie channels, though they all come from the Arab Emirates. So many 'too western' scenes are often cut... so definitely not nudity nor even show of affection, kissing and such. So sometimes it is pretty disappointing when you know it happens (like for in Starsky and Hutch prison scene).
The movies are 24 hours and really up to date, there is of course also the James Bond Channel, But I am pretty tired of seeing Roger Moore's bad acting.
The greatest news came today, Megan bought a ticket and she flies to Addis for her Christmas Holiday.
Today I woke up late, but what else did I have to do.
We had a bug in our flour, so I had to look at it. We need tupperware to store these things.
Anyway, I made my way to the office and had dinner with Colin (our dishes was all dirty and we never manage to have food in the house so I was hungry).
We ate at Denver which is a tiny cafe in our office building. Their donuts and smooties are really good and so cheap. Though some of their other food, despite cheap, are meat base. So my choice is limited. But it is good for a snack.
We headed with our paper to the UN registration office. So I got my UN ID card today and can access freely their land! That is great news and it explains why at last I can access quicker Internet!
I have a nice UN photo ID, that is also bringing some pride in a way ... or maybe chauvinism. Though when you walk out the compound the beggers won't make any difference between me and a rich administrative worker or ambassador!
But it is a pride which I am happy about, who knows now I might dream of driving one of those UN white 4wd.
So on the way back we walked and stopped by to get some food and fruit. As it was getting around 6pm, the time when the sun set. It slowly got darker... that was enhanced by the fact that the whole city was under a full blackout, so the only light was from the buildings having generator. It was hell dark before I reached home!
A second day of training on BPR which took the whole day with a pizza break in midday. That pizza was delicious.
My evening was relatively calm at home, cleaning the data on my computer.
A full day from morning till evening at the UN. I uploaded all my photos from Addis here (next time I shall do my past blogs) and uploaded loads of documents from the library access I have here. The Internet was really quick in the morning but the afternoon was crap.
Anyway, it is now week end. Despite having had a quiet week except for the training, I feel like today did fulfil my working tasks.
My computer is slowly getting back all with all its programs.
Chow for the week end!
A quiet week end, actually on Saturday we headed toward Entoto (Shoa Mida) market where we bought some more traditional stuff. I bought a gabi, which is a thick cotton linen and some other stuff for my family. But before that we needed to find money and this is not an easy task in this retarded country (did I say that, ahh well, yes that is what I meant).
So we had to go all the way to Sheraton to find an ATM that worked (and of course it only takes certain cards and only allowed us to withdraw a maximum amount). So that was not pleasant, and the ride to there was struck by rain and cover as it was a hard rain.
On the evening, I finally ended up using the Internet at the office.
Sunday was quite calm around our area, getting some things done but in the evening and day it was so cold I was freezing in the house.
Today is shitty grey and half rainy day, the maid and landlord family are always up around 6am and starting to do all type of useless cleaning.
I headed to the UN through the office and of course the UN Internet works like crap so it was a useless day workwise.
I am fed up with being here it is days like that where I get nothing to do or start something else that I notice how flaw it is to actually try to make any change in this country not to say this continent. Seriously they will never ever be any change for the good, so I doubt this continent will ever get out of its rotting situation so why waste the resources. Throw the towel, invest where it is worth and for godsake stop sending international interns while we could at least be getting some valuable working experience elsewhere. Not being on a worthless vacation in here on a fake pretext.
Anyway, the thing is that even if I start getting some work. It will too little too late. Soon I will approach my half term and I have been doing nothing at all... for the reason that I have receive no task at all yet. And I have to fill up 37h/week of that!
Even if I do get some tasks, it will result in just a tiny paper based recommendation meant for a place that does not have the background to support any recommendation. Have some regulation and logic in your country then you can do development. Not improve the water management somewhere by telling the obvious but actually having no policy to back it up, or a government that sits on their hands and act as if it was the dumbness thing.
This day is to be forgotten.
Another week, we headed to the UN for one day with Colin and after our time there, we went to the Hilton for the Happy Hour as Robin was organising a drink for her first year in Addis Ababa. I met with some of the international crowd from previous parties and also some new ones.
It was pretty crowded in the evening down Bole road, a long week end ahead.
Back home Colin was preparing to head out for their New Year's eve party, before that we stayed in the compound with the landlord family as they did a traditionnal fire. It was nice and I stayed until I was tired before getting back into the house.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Odd eh! Well on the Ethiopian Calendar it is New Year today.
So I got awaken by a sms wishing me the new year from Teferra and well simply slept some more. Then I was thinking of heading out, the weather was nice and it would have been a good day to do something but Colin stayed in pyjama at home the whole day and I got dragged into that. So I didn't even walk out of the house.
Today it was slowly looking like it head to be the same as yesterday, so screw it and I went to the UN as the compound was open today. We had a day off but well I could at least try to use the Internet for my own leisure. Though the connection was as bad as it was the past days.
That was mainly it.
September 13 - 14
A hike in Entoto!
At last it was great to get out of Addis and head into the greenish of the surrounding mountains.
So I woke up and prepared and said there is no way I was going to do nothing and stay in. As I was ready and Colin noticed it (as he was so far still in pyjama and heading for the third day of it) I told him I wasn't staying in and going to the mountains.
So that was nice as hiking can be somehow nicer with two.
So we headed out, and took a taxi to Bole. But eh, holiday week end, there was a huge crowd awaiting for minibus and on the direction we were heading at we would have spent the day there, so we walked to Stadium to catch some buses there and did so just as the rain was about to pour down.
That was luck and we were lurking for the bus ride to last long as the rain was really torrential. So much that the streets turned out into river and the bus had to wait for it to pass. We went through Arat Kilo - Siddist Kilo and as we arrived in Shiro Meda, the rain was stopping. That was our luck. Although it was still thunderstorm and lightning we hiked straight up the hill.
About mid-hill we reached the first bus stop and it finally decided to take the minibus up to the top.
Once we reached the view on the other side of the mountain, the view open on a large green valley, it was quite a magnificent panorama. It was especially so great to be in the quietness of nature and out of the turbulent noises of Addis. We walked along the path, passing by some farmers and women carrying woods back to Addis (which is an amazing sight, as they carry quite a wide load.)
We then decided to cut back up following a stream, through the herd of goats. We sat down enjoying the view as two young goat herder kids, whom came to us with such great etiquette; we shared cookies until we left.
Back up, we followed a road for some times not knowing where it lead.
This led us to pass by some traditional hut where some of the villager showed us the path back toward Entoto and this brought us just next to a strange monument. I went near to see what it was about and was astonished to see: Memorial to the death of September 11 … in New York! What!??
After a short distance more we reached Entoto, but we had to jump from stone to stone in a completely muddy path… and Colin missed the rock and went straight through into the mud.
September 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20 - 21
On Monday I met with the professor David Amborski who came to deliver a training organised by our institute for Ethiopian planner about Planning Ethics.
The training was going on from Tuesday to Friday (though it was shortened to 3 days). The following day we all went to the Ethiopian Management Institute quite early in the morning where the training was delivered. So for a little while we all felt like being back at University, it was an interesting training though it did raise some more confusion sometimes about my profession.
That night, Colin was leaving to the Dominican Republic, through New York. So I was to have the house for myself for some days. That was somehow welcome as more relaxing and quiet. You know, not having the livelihood weight of being with someone else at home.
On Wednesday, I ended up going to the training on my own behalf. I first took the wrong minibus and then walked for quite a distance before catching some other but I ended up learning a bit more of the city transport by that. And I didn’t arrive late. But it did take me more than an hour, so you can believe for the citizens that relies on public transport how difficult life can be if they have to do all their life amenities.
The annoying thing about the training was that we didn’t have any tasks to do, so at some point we were pretty useless. Sure it was educative, though the professor’s accent was sometimes difficult even for me on the first day but I adjusted quickly, this must have been different for the Ethiopians.
That evening I stopped by the Panorama hotel as we waited for some hours before Teferra picked us all up to go for dinner at a traditional restaurant near our embassy. It was a great evening and the food was of course great (just as was the dinner at the EMI, since it was a fasting day! That was one of the best meal I ever had since being in Ethiopia.
Thursday was finally the last training day, and consisted mainly of workshop. So we could just wander around. I used the library of the institute and was amazed that they had the Master Plan for Addis Ababa. I have been waiting for that document for my work for about 2 months now!!
In the evening, I walked from the hotel to Laura’s house to wait while we would meet back with the professor to have dinner and some drink. This was a nice but odd night, I walked back home trying to not make it too late but late enough to be pretty tired.
Friday was a last day at the office but a pretty calm one.
September 22 - 23 - 24 - 25 - 26
The days went by in a quite relaxing way; I did use the Internet pretty much.
We also ended up talking about my bit of the project, which was technically on hold (if not dead) as I was stuck for weeks and weeks to the point that I had nothing to do until I got told. Teferra organised that we would meet later this week so that I would present the past elements (the criteria) that I worked on so far. It was about time as I did this more than a month ago already.
So I revised it and completed it and we had a presentation about diverse elements as Laura was back already.
I took a bit of Friday off to relax some more while still thinking or working from home for the following week follow-up meeting on this issue. During the afternoon, I spent some hours with Laura finishing the report (and going to have dinner with the Staff of Operation Smile, another NGO in our building).
September 27 - 28 - 29 - 30
On the 27th, it was Meskal day (True Cross Festivity). Laura called me early and I started preparing myself so that we headed out and first met around Dombel.
Colin had arrived back in early morning and so he was still sleeping. Laura and me decided to head to Mexico Square as every last Saturday of the month, there is suppose to be a NGO fair organised in that area, though where?
We walked around but had no idea where to go so we gave up and walked up the street from Mexico and arrived along Churchill, from there we cut east and went toward Merkato. As it was a holiday, most of the market was dead but there were still plenty of people as we walked by some of the street sellers. The day went by, as we were leaving one guy might have been following for a while maybe as he tried to grab Laura’s necklace. He failed but it was a quick and annoying action. I feel dumb I didn’t see it coming better. Hopefully Laura got back together pretty quick so she didn’t panic too long and it wasn’t too crowded or an annoying spot. We kept on going on not long after toward Piassa. As much as Merkato is a shit-hole, Piassa is pretty great. The historic architecture remains and so is the urban life free of the scum of Merkato. I had never really been or hanged in Piassa but I discovered a great place with cafés and other funky place that make you feel more relax. I definite must.
On Sunday, I simply had to work on my paper to be ready by Monday for the presentation. So my whole day went on this despite that on Monday my presentation got pushed forward to another day and I ended up going to the UN.
Happy Mubarak, a muslim holiday means a day off, though…
I am feeling like shit today, well actually feeling sad, depressed or annoyed… possibly altogether. Yesterday I was pretty angry. I came back from the UN, where the Internet has been shit and that has been for 3 weeks in a row. I have a deep frustration in that regard. It disables me from being efficient with my work, but more especially, I wish I could do all the simple wasteful or day-to-day web browsing. That last bit is just frustrating because it is a habit of me and pretty much what I do with my leisure time. On my way back, I stopped home to have some food then went to the office to use the net again and especially finish with the files I used today and send my paper to my colleagues. The Internet wasn’t working either at the office, it was another pretty frustrating evening and the only minutes I managed to spend talking with Megan where a bit frustrating for me.
I went back home and Colin was gone, the whole dishes all dirty over the counter and the last pieces of bread eaten. Dammed! I found that being pretty selfish; I got into a real mad mood and was understood from outside. All the frustration accumulated in the shared accommodation, life abroad, quite went out.
I went to sleep to forget it though it didn’t make weeks pass through but just a few hours.
So this morning, my mood was fine, fine enough to go through with the day. I went out for a walk as matter to get an empty head and be out of the house. I mainly thought about work during that time then by the evening I went to the office. The Internet was crap again, I only talked a few lines with Megan but with the mood I was in, I just got sarcastic and angry. But anyway I was pretty angry at that short discussion. I am feeling angry and even more in hate of life. In my mood I used the time online to go through Megan’s old blog (yeah what else to do when you already have dark thought).
Anyway, I am not going to discuss about that.
I am wondering about relationship, the way of, why am I getting into one. Not about the relation in itself, but more that I know what the finality of them. The fact that I might be more someone meant to be alone, that I most certainly won’t be a good person that despite the great time there will be dark and the bad. I hate happiness, as the reverse of that medal awaits you across the corner. If I can avoid it then you know you can’t get lower than you are. I don’t think I am the right she would wish to be with. Am I jealous of her past? I don’t know, I don’t think so, but I could more certainly not be a suitable person. She ask me about not to compare, but nope that’s not really something I can comply. To me past is a continuum, difference shows uncertainty and I might not necessarily take some things necessarily well… especially as matter of opinions. I don’t life is confusing and so am I.
I am tired of life; I am asocial and not suitable for many things. I doubt pretty much of my skills and sometimes in the current economical situation (we are heading toward a major crisis no), I probably won’t have much of a place. Anyway, I am as from time to time, getting tired of life. I sometimes wish I was back in those few specific times at home and that it never went any forward, no Europe, no such.
So today is the end, the end of the month, a moment where I am getting pretty tired. I could also think about all my past years, being at different part of the world without any specific connection keeps me at a fresh renewal every time.
The sun has left today too…