Mud, mud, glorious mud...

The new High School building now being complete, the next phase of building work could be started. However at Bingham, major changes are not tackled piece-meal, rather they are all started at once. Three classrooms have been knocked into one large space to be used as a chapel (assembly hall). The large quantity of mud from the dismantled walls being taken away a barrowful at a time. The metal wheelbarrows that the workers use all have the squeakiest wheels you could imagine, rather like running your finger nails down a blackboard.

It's all a matter of comparison.

I was heartened this week when a friend who works in a project to support AIDs patients in Addis, told me about a recent initiative. It was called ‘peri-urban gardening’. The head of each household was taught how to transform a small patch of ground by clearing away many stones and breaking up the thick, sticky soil. They were shown how to remove the soil to a considerable depth then add manure, charcoal and egg shells for nutrients. Further instruction was given about composting and making a simple fertiliser. During the final meeting a hoe was brought in.

Fifteen Days

What is it with fifteen days? Almost every time I ask an Ethiopian patient how long they’ve had a particular symptom it is “fifteen days”. Never two weeks. This happened to me recently when Sister Ankatse was interpreting for me, and after we’d dealt with the fifteen day tummy ache problem and the patient had left, I mentioned this to her. She didn’t know why either. She brought in the next patient. They had a cough. “How long?” “Fifteen days”. Ankatse and I share a brief sidelong glance. Being a pair of consummate professionals, neither of us smiles.

Comfort Zones - What are they?

It's very common for people coming into a "mission" setting to find themselves doing things way out of their "comfort zones". No way was that going to happen to me!

Before we came to Ethiopia I emailed anyone at the school who I thought would listen and requested that I wanted to teach the youngest children and certainly no higher than grade 2. Why? Having spent the past eight years with Reception ("Kindergarten" or "KG1" here) that was my "comfort zone" and I wanted to stay well within it.

We're Having a Break

Just in case you were wondering what's happened to our usual blogging this last week (one person emailed me...), we are sort of on holiday. Bingham Academy has a "mid semester break" this week and we have been able to borrow a really good 4x4 so we are getting some R&R. This weekend we went to a country Lodge (sounds posh - it was adequate!) for a couple of nights and visited an exquisitely beautiful crater lake about 100 km from Addis.

Hilton Highlights

Hilton hotels are a five star international chain, so surely the hairdressing salons that they contain should be indistinguishable right?

I wonder if anything in the salon reveals its Ethiopian location.

Maybe the missing handle on the drawer in front of me, or the two light bulbs that need replacing around the mirror gave it away.

The hairdresser glanced at my hair. “Same colour!” he announced as he departed. He reappeared a couple of minutes later, vigorously stirring a generous amount of dark grey gloop in a plastic container.

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