19 December 2006

Holidays and such

Well Come!
This is my FAVORITE spelling mistake—it’s fairly international as I have seen it on three continents, and to be honest maybe it’s actually the original spelling. Maybe it’s how the word developed, my smart brothers could tell me—but my uneducated guess says yes.

Anyway, I hope you are all well. It has been WAY too long. I know—I’m not sure where the time went. For those of you who didn’t know, since my last writing I have actually been to the US and back!! It’s true. We had a family issue for which if felt I needed to return; it was a quick trip, but a nice break. It was great to see my family—and talk to a few of you. I am sorry I wasn’t able to contact you all, I spent more time on planes then on the ground, so my talking time was limited. The trip took me to NY, Connecticut, and Utah (and Phoenix and DC if you count airports)! The trip back was probably the worst of the whole thing—from the time I left Utah to the time I arrived in Ethiopia, it was 38 hours!! That’s right, I counted; ‘cause I had the time!! It’s a long story, which can be summed up at the incompetence of someone somewhere at Ethiopian Airlines—grrrrrrr.

But, I’m passed that (obviously), and I have a lot to say. So much has happened, so I will just begin. To warn you, this may be long, so you may want to read it in parts. Also, at the end I will include my ‘not suitable for all readers’ stuff. This will entail gross things first, then the sad things. I’ll warn you before I start this section. And, to remind you these are always available on my blog at jessicasrants.blogspot.com That is also where I post my pictures. So, if you haven’t gone there, I’d give it a go.

First, I want to let you all know we spell Ethiopia wrong. Okay not wrong so much as, not phonetically correct. I didn’t know this until very recently, and to be honest had seen the other spelling and thought it was wrong. The truth is, in Amharic (the main Ethiopian language) there is no ‘th’ sound. Thus, E‘th’iopia can’t be right. Actually, once you have been here oh, at least two days you figure out you are saying it wrong, and change. Then, when you see the new spelling it all makes sense. Itiyopia is actually how you say it, and how many people here spell it with the Latin alphabet. I am not sure which Western nation got it wrong, misheard and started writing with the ‘th’, but I’m going to guess England as we can blame them for other mis-pronunciations like Myanmar. Just a random note—I’ve never met an Ethiopian who cares really, but if you say it right, they are quite impressed and will let you know. On one of my LONG LONG layovers, I was asked where I was going, when I responded with Itiyopia, the woman smiled and said she knew I lived there because I could pronounce it. Proud moment for me.

I have some good and bad news, which are interconnected. The good news is I have graduated to a new room in the house. This room is almost three times the size of my other room, has closets, and, drum roll please, it’s own bathroom!! I don’t have to share with two, rather clean, but still male, boys. Nice. The bathroom is very small, rather entertaining. I can sit on the toilet, shower, and wash my hands all at the same time. Okay, not quite wash my hands, but the toilet shower thing is true.. Actually, the only thing I don’t like about it is the shower curtain. I have yet to figure out the benefit of said shower curtain, as water goes everywhere anyway. The shower is just a pipe coming out of the wall, no fancy shower head; but, it’s hot so I don’t care. The bad news is to obtain said room, some people had to leave. My two best ferenji mates have both left Addis. I am very sad about this—and it will be a hard adjustment. I have plenty of friends, mostly Ethiopian, but you just need someone who gets you once in a while. Ethan’s contract finished so he has gone home to Cornwall and Claire has transferred to Goal Sudan. The other girl in the house, Anna, is on extended leave, so actually it’s just me and the boys. They are nice guys, but I do miss my two friends.
Later I will tell some more stories about being a ferenji (stranger/foreigner), but just a quick one to get us started. I was at an internet café trying to get online (after 1 ½ hours of trying I gave up, the internet was down for the town). The guy there was fascinated by me. Some how we got on the topic of skin, and he wondered how I could have been here for three months, including time in Afar, and still I am not black like him?! ME TOO!! I decided to educate him on the concept of sunburns and getting ‘tan.’ He hadn’t heard these words, so I showed him my BEAUTIFUL example of a farmer’s tan, which quite shocked him. My nose was currently sunburned, so that worked out well also. Then, he pointed to the freckles on my arms with a look of confusion—I assumed he wanted to know the word, so I said, “They are freckles. I get them from my Grandmother.”
To my surprise, he responded, “Why don’t you wash them off? They look bad. You look like you don’t wash.” Ouch. Double ouch. To his surprise, I let him know they are permanent, which he had to prove for himself and began rubbing them trying to get some off. It’s so humbling to be here.

Like I mentioned, I am currently staying in Harar. Harar is a municipality, which means it doesn’t belong to the county surrounding it, rather it reports directly to the state. It is a unique area, with an interesting history. The original city has 5 meter high walls surrounding it. It is a heavy Muslim area, surrounded by Christians. They are proud of their Muslim heritage and the role they played in bringing Islam into Africa. They are famous all over Africa for varying reasons, some of which I will outline here.
1. The women wear very colourful outfits. They wear skirts with bright patterns and colours, just as bright shirts, bright scarves around their shoulders, and to cover their heads a net type material. It can be black, neon colours, red, or multicoloured. They also have beautiful bead work, women wear starting at six months or so. They are called Bishane (not the right spelling, but will give you an idea of pronunciation). They are made of at least 4 colours and up. They are long strands of small beads collected and then joined by bigger beads every two inches or so in clumps. Then they ends hang in front like the end of broom or pony tail. Does that make sense? I have some pictures I will put up for you, that will be better. They also wear beaded arm bands and head bands. The head bands come across their foreheads, and back into their hair. Their hair is braided.
2. Another interesting thing is their water jugs. They have a plant here, which I thought looked like a type of squash. I was excited as I LOVE squash, but was disappointed to learn they aren’t edible. When they are ‘ripe’ they pick them, cut off the tops, and let them dry. They then are water jugs. They are generally shaped like an hour glass, with the bottom larger then the top. Sometimes it will be just a large bottom with a long spout. They use them to carry water and to scoop water. The ones with just the long spout and large bottom, they don’t cut the top off rather, they break a whole in the large part and use it as a scoop. They also paint them with local plants and decorate them with leather strands, beads, shells, rocks, etc. I really want one!
3. The Hyena men of Harar. If you have heard of Harar, it is most likely because of this practice. It is a folklore that long ago there was a famine both man and beast was suffering. The Hyena’s began to prey on the humans, so they struck a deal to stop it. They men would always provide for the Hyena, and they wouldn’t eat the humans. They still celebrate this every year. They make what is called “Hyena Porridge” and put it out in a special place. The head Hyena (a woman) comes forward and tries it. If she doesn’t like it, it will be a bad year, if she eats half it will be a good year, if she is gluttonous and eats it all, it will be a bad year. This happens just once a year, but EVERY night you can go to this spot just outside the old city and see the remaining ‘Hyena Men’ feed the wild Hyena’s with their hands and even from their own mouths!!!!!!!!! If you’ve never seen a Hyena, they are bigger then they look in The Lion King. Much bigger. They have these huge shoulders and little butt. Interesting. I was several at night (when they roam the city), but was unable to go and see the famous Hyena men on this trip. I have to go back to Harar in February and will try then.
4. Though it’s its own municipality, Harar is in the state of Oromiya. The ‘official’ language of the state, and also of Harar, is Oromifa. There are of course many other languages spoken here, but Oromifa and Amharic are the unifying languages. The official language of the government bodies is Oromifa. I have decided to abandon my attempts to learn Amharic, and go for Oromifa. I know what you are thinking, why would you want to add yet another not so useful language to your repertoire? Well, it’s not like Amharic is that useful, Oromifa will help me better in my work as it’s what people speak in most of the rural areas where I work, and lastly, they use the Latin alphabet. Okay, the third reason weighs heavy on my decision, and it would be impossible to stop learning Amharic, as it’s spoken around me all day every day, but I’ve decided to really study Oromifa. I actually like it. It’s like German, in that to get a new word or sound they just add more letters. Here’s an example of a title: “Qajeelfama Qindeessaa Warra Soorannaa Hawaasaa Beeksisaniif” Love it. This says something about breastfeeding and benefits for birth spacing. As time goes on hopefully I’ll be able to give you a few lessons too.
5. My current work is doing a coverage survey in Fedis Woreda. This is the ‘county’ just south of Harar. The ‘coverage’ survey means we are assessing how well a nutrition programme reached it’s target people. Did we get good ‘coverage’ of the area, or not. It’s a big big question, and surprisingly hard to answer. There is of course pressure from up top to get good numbers, but, as most of you can imagine, pressures such as these don’t affect me. Which, side note, is why I most likely will never climb too high in any organization; I don’t play the game. Sorry, random tangent, I was going to explain Fedis to you. Fedis Woreda is supposedly one of the most ‘rural’ areas in the state of Oromiya. However, I must say—it doesn’t seem so rural to me. I’m not sure what this means, if I am just accustomed to areas, or people were exaggerating. I do like the area, it’s beautiful. Quite lush, and covered in red rock formations. The ground is clay mostly, with random areas of white sand. This leads to REALLY slick roads on rainy days, but some good times in the Land Cruiser. I LOVE the roads we are asked to drive. Maybe the answer to how rural the area is answered by how much we end up walking to do our work. If the roads are so bad the Land Cruiser can’t go—that’s probably a sign. The other day we walked over 15 Kilometres trying to track down these different villages. I have a great picture of a road we needed to cross I will put up.
6. Unlike other areas I have been to, Tef is not the main staple here, Sorghum is. I have never seen Sorghum grow, so it’s interesting. It’s very tall, like corn, and in fact looks like corn from a distance. The same green long leaves coming off tall straight stalks. However, on top is the difference. There are MANY varieties of sorghum, but the main one here grows in a tear drop shape. On corn where the top yellow part is, is where the sorghum lies. It grows up for a bit, then bends over and hangs down in a tear drop shape. The growing period is between 9 and 12 months!!!!!!! The sorghum is then dried, the leaves used as fodder for animals, and the stalks as building material. The problem with this variety is the LONG growing season, as well as the tear drop shape is PERFECT to catch rain. If there is too much rain in the wrong season, the tear drop holds the water inside and rots the middle of the sorghum. We drove and walked through field after field of rotting Sorghum, thanks to last week’s unseasonable rain. Hopefully the now hot weather will dry out much of the grain, but only time will tell if the bulk of the crop was ruined. Haramaya University, the largest university in Africa (in land) has introduced a new variety of Sorghum that is shorter and doesn’t form the tear drop. Rather, it stays point up like corn. This variety only takes three months to grow, and as it is accepted into the communities will make a profound difference in their lives.
7. As mentioned earlier, Harar area is famous all over Africa for many things. One of these things is Chaat. Also spelled Qaat, Chat, etc etc. Chaat is a green leafy bush native to Ethiopia. When the smaller leaves are chewed on (for a few hours) it creates a stimulant effect. They were first used by priests/monks to increase the amount of time they could pray, but now it is in wide spread use. It is a culture thing, and when you invite someone to your home in this area, you offer the traditional coffee as well as some quality Chaat. Harar area is famous because it is said to have the best variety of Chaat anywhere. People actually fly from Addis to Harar with empty suitcases to come and buy it in bulk. Chaat is illegal in Eritrea and I think Somalia, but legal here in Ethiopia and an integral part of their culture. Some blame societal issues on it, but I have yet to see the evidence of that. Chaat is just like alcohol, coffee, Coke/Pepsi, or to be honest chocolate. Technically none of them are good for you, but used properly or in a ‘social’ way is fine. Many of you on my list may have a different opinion of alcohol or coffee, and I am not excusing either, but it is the abuse of said substances that can lead to issues. It is the same here for Chaat. Chewed after dinner with some friends in town for a few days, it is not a big deal. But, chewed all day everyday, it does affect your behaviour and society. Those who chew enough to get the famous ‘green drool’ are considered inappropriate, outcasts, like an alcoholic. It is said to be addicting, like other stimulants, and possibly a problem. It is not considered much of anything here (in Harar area, but the rest of Ethiopia is different), children eat it, elderly, everyone. I plan to do some more research on the contents of the chaat leaf, as I am curious the affect on pregnant/lactating women as well as children. I’ll let you know if I uncover anything. I am a nerd. I also have a confession, I tried it. Don’t worry, no getting high for me, as you must chew on the leaves for a few hours for the effects to start and I tried nibble of one leaf. I see people eating it all day, and had to know; can it taste good? The answer is a resounding NO!! It tastes worse then wheat grass!!! Ick Ick Ick Ick. My face said everything, as with the first nibble it contorted into shapes I didn’t know were possible much to the amusement of my team. They love doing that to me. Ick. I have no idea how they chew on it all day. Ick ick ick.
8. Onto Ferenji tales. As a ferenji walking into a rural village, it is assumed you are an all knowing all seeing MD or something. Immediately you are taken to the homes of the sickest people, children and adults, and asked to help. This happens almost every time I go into a village, and for the most part isn’t so bad. A lot of the time, I can at minimum give advice, as it’s infected wounds or most commonly childhood illnesses. Also, if I tell them to go to the clinic, they are more likely to listen then when a community volunteer comes by or a neighbour refers them. However, sometimes it is horrific. I will wait to give the details until the end of the email as promised; but for those of you who won’t read on, it’s hard. Its’ hard to see a child or an adult suffering from something easily treated in the US, or other developed nation, that will most likely die here in Ethiopia. You start to think about your resources, how could you ship them to the US for treatment? Do you know anyone who could sponsor them, could get them help? How would it work? What about visa’s? Paperwork? Would it be easier to send them to Nairobi or Cairo for treatment? Your mind races and you realize in the end, you can’t help everyone. You do your best to encourage them, but in reality you are saying, “Nice to meet you. Good luck with that huge health issue, see you later.” It’s frustrating. This last week I had one village that just pushed me over the edge. Four bad cases in one little village, it was hard. Very hard.
9. A more light hearted ferenji tale, but to be honest just as exhausting as the one above is being treated like a zoo animal. I know I have talked about knowing what ‘fame’ is all about, but I’ve decided my life isn’t like some rich celebrity; it’s more like zoo animal. Possibly celebrities feel this way, as I don’t know any I haven’t asked, but maybe if I cross my fingers I’ll be lucky some day! Anyway, like a zoo animal. We drive into this village in Land Cruiser, my cage. IMMEDIATELY children run up to the car and begin chanting, “Ferenji, Ferenji, Ferenji, Ferenji, Ferenji, etc etc!” It doesn’t stop for a good five minutes or so and usually has this tune they sing it to, the same in every village. I’m not sure if it’s taught in schools, but they all know it. Once I have gathered my stuff, satellite phone, bag, water bottle, etc my team is usually out of the car first and generally provide crowd control. Then, one of them opens my door, it’s like I’m being led around so they can all see. It’s like Peter Hannah (is that his name, it doesn’t sound right but I am referring to the Wild Life guy) is taking me on the Tonight Show or something. The children generally follow us around; older ones run off to let the others know that a strange animal has entered their village. The longer I am there, the greater the crowd grows. Adults join in, though try not to seem as interested. Everyone under say 13 years of age just flat out stares. And, what makes me feel most like an animal is the touching and the fear. They (generally kids under 10) are terrified of me. If I turn around just to face them, they run off in fear screaming. Brave ones sneak forward in the crowd to touch my arm or pull my hair. Some offer me food, others throw things at me. I feel like a need a sign that reads the following: “Please don’t touch the animal, you could harm her. Please don’t feed the animal, don’t throw things at the animal. Don’t tap on the glass, don’t rattle the cage. Don’t taunt the animal; you may just observe her in her natural habitat doing her thing.”
I generally don’t mind, but if you happen to not feel well, or be in a bad mood, you still have to perform. And, if I’m not ‘performing’ (e.g. greeting people, saying the random words I know in the local language, smiling, waving, you know my tricks) my team members, like a zoo keeper will explain I’m not feeling well and to give me space. It’s crazy! Crazy. Of course when we are in areas that are more developed, it doesn’t happen as much, generally younger children always follow me around, but not the whole village. I suppose it’s another way to judge how rural an area is, by how many people follow after me. Most of the time I play it up, shaking hands, little games with kids, and speaking. I even put my arm out to let the kids come up and touch it—they are fascinated by my skin and arm hair. One kid even bit me, not sure why, but don’t worry he didn’t break the skin. If I’m feeling really sassy, I may jump up and yell “RAA!!” at a particular group of kids, sending them scattering for the hills in terror which then turns to giggles and they cautiously make their way back. This THOROUGLY entertains the adults and of course my team members. Once back in my cage (Land Cruiser) and on the road I generally douse my self in hand sanitizer. Children always follow the car banging on the windows again chanting Ferenji Ferenji. I am a zoo animal.

Okay kids, here is where the main email comes to an end and the possibly not what you want to read stuff begins. I am warning you now, so no complaints later. I start with ‘gross’ tales and move onto the health issues I came upon as noted above in my stories.
1. I got sick, I know surprised. Not too bad, just a night of vomiting and that’s all. It could be worse, so I’ll take it. I wasn’t being careful, and in one particular village ate some offered food. I had raw green peanuts straight from the ground, probably not the culprit; some green peppers picked from the garden, and well shook a lot of hands. I also ate at a dodgy restaurant, but such is life. It doesn’t matter where I got the offending item, just how long it will last. The next morning I attempted to go into the office, but it was a no go. Here is where the fun fact and possibly gross part comes in. I won’t explain my vomiting, except of course to say it was orange as my team members were convinced if I drank Mirinda (like Fanta) I would feel better, but I will say there is practice here that still catches me off guard. When people find out you are sick and it has to do with your stomach, the FIRST thing out of their mouth is, “Have you got your poop tested?” I love it. I absolutely love it. I mean of course, it’s what you need to do if it’s serious, but I love that it’s so common and such a common practice that it’s an okay thing to ask. I also am entertained they use the word poop. Not sure how that happened, even the pharmacist I went to wanted to know about my ‘poop.’ Entertaining.
2. The second ‘gross’ thing is most likely just gross to me and a few others. The bulk of you may think the following lines belong in the main body of the letter, but as it is gross to me and I am the author, it goes here. I can honestly say I would rather have a child pee on me, poop on me, or puke on me then sneeze on me. I know, crazy. I don’t know what it is about snot. Even typing the word makes me gag. It’s the only body excrement I can’t handle. I can’t. It freaks me out. I would rather change diarrhoea diapers then wipe a kids nose. Ick. It actually is more of deterrent to my work then my fear of spiders, which will shock a lot of you. I am actually getting over that fear, and can kill with the best of them and even sleep in a room that I KNOW has spiders, cockroaches, whatever, in it. But, my issues with snot continue. Ick. EVERY child here has two snot streams running down their face into their mouth. It is so hard for me to handle. There are no tissues or anything, so if the mom does wipe it up she uses her skirt, shirt, or fingers and then flicks in on the ground. Even writing this is making me sick to my stomach. It’s so awful. I mean kids are so cute, why do they have to be ruined by such a gross substance. Ick. On top of that, despite the fact that my Lonely Planet Guide says ‘body sounds’ are inappropriate in Ethiopia, farmer blows and clearing your throat and ‘hawkin’ a loogie’ is SOOOOO not an issue anywhere in this country at anytime by anyone. ICK. Snot. I realize those two statements are both regional sayings as well as possibly misspelled, so to define it for you—farmer blows are when you block one nostril with your finger and blow the other one into the air, onto the ground, whatever. ‘Hawking a loogie’ is when you clear your throat of mucous then spit it out. Ick. Even the sound of someone clearing their throat makes me cringe. Gag.
3. Kids are FILTHY FILTHY here. You think it’s hard keeping a kid clean in the US, try keeping a kid clean where there is only mud on the ground, inside and out, your house is made of mud, animal and possibly human waste litters the ground, your child has no shoes, you wash his one or two set of clothes in water that is NEVER clear—rather always the colour of clay, you don’t have running water, you have to go and fish your water out of a pond, so none left over for big baths, and there are no diapers. Then add the perpetual rivers of snot running down their faces to the wind blowing dust, and well, it’s a disaster. For those of you unaware, the kids just run around bare bottomed. It’s kind of cute. When they need to go, they go—if you are holding them it’s on you, if not, its down their legs and on the ground. Sometimes the parent will put little underwear type things on them, just cotton things, that when wet they wash and dry. They spend a lot of time sitting on the ground, especially younger ones. They crawl around in the mud and splash in puddles—as dirty as a child can get. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that they don’t try. You can see them try—scrub as hard as they can on the rock that little shirt; but it is SUCH an uphill battle. As you can guess, Urinary Tract Infections are quite common in the little girls. I am fascinated, with my American point of view, children survive childhood here. Their little bodies have to survive all that filth and germs, plus lack of food, and high rates of infectious diseases. Diarrhoea is a way of life, and they don’t even consider having a cold to be sick unless there is a fever with it. If you have a cold, you are normal. Everyone is coughing all the time. At any moment these kids could catch TB, Cholera, Malaria, Measles, worms, parasites, and thousands of other things, and generally do. When a child enters a health program, no matter the reason, they are generally given de-worming tablets as it can just be assumed they all have worms. They are also given routine antibiotics. It’s not like the US, where these antibiotics are being over used; it’s a safe assumption the child needs them. Side note, it is also assumed I have worms and should be taking de-worming tablets every three months or so.
4. Lastly, I will explain the health problems encountered here in Harar. These four cases were all in one village, and it was particularly hard to leave them behind.
1. A little girl was brought to my attention. At first glance she looks healthy, not thin and no oedema. Then you see the sore on her mouth. The right side of her mouth is inflamed and crusty with infection. It looks extremely painful, and little girl can barely open her mouth. Then her mother lifts her dress, there on her left leg spreading from her thigh onto her vagina is the same sore. My guess, Herpes Complex I, but who knows? The poor girl can barely sit down she is in so much pain. The areas are raw and dirty of course. All I could do was refer her to the local clinic (a 2 hour walk). I also assured the mother had soap, and explained how to wash and dry the area. I asked her to try and keep the girl off the ground, sitting on branches, stools, or rocks, instead of the dirt—but as the little girl is three her mother can’t really control where she sits all day. Poor thing.
2. The next little boy was case of Anencephaly. This is when fluids collect in the skull and it continues to grow. It can affect the brain development as well as other problems. The child was just over 2 years, and his head measured 56 cm around (22 inches). The poor kid also had nervous issues, and weak limbs. He had never spoken, crawled, or stood. Here, there is nothing I can say. Nothing. Even in the US to treat this requires surgeries, and is life long ordeal. Here, there is absolutely nothing. The local health clinic is staffed by a ‘junior nurse’ who receives one year of schooling, and even if this village family could afford to go to Addis I doubt they have capabilities there. So, it’s “Well, nice to meet you, good luck with that, have a nice life.” It’s so frustrating.
3. The next was a woman. She was in her mid twenties, though she looked older. Her face was severely swollen, as well as her limbs. She was dizzy and when she ate, she would usually vomit it all up. She was six months post-partum, and the child had died less then a week after delivery. From her description it sounded as if she had had Pre-eclampsia during her pregnancy, and was still having issues. She had gone to the clinic and they sent her home with 5 aspirins and a months worth of folic acid and iron tablets. Like either of those will do any good!! What am I supposed to do? Um, eat right and rest. Okay? I don’t know?!?!? Again, I had to walk away feeling helpless.
4. Next was a 12 year old boy. His foot had begun swelling a month earlier. He had not fallen on it, or gotten a cut, it had just begun on the inside to swell. His foot (near the ankle) was now the size of a softball, and he couldn’t move his ankle and could barely wiggle his toes. The area was now outwardly infected as well, with dried blood visible as well as puss and other unidentifiable items protruding. The family had packed it in dried grass. It was OBVIOUSLY infected, and wasn’t getting better. My advice, um wash it with soap and water, try to keep it clean and get to the clinic if you can. More then likely, the child will lose his leg if he’s lucky, but more likely he will die of sepsis/gangrene.
5. Finally, I am mentally and emotionally drained, and we are done sampling the village so we head back to the car. On the way I am stopped by a mother. She has, what I think is a very shy little girl, standing in front of me. The little girl is about 12 and has a head scarf covering her head and face. I kneel down to greet her, just as she is lifting her veil, and what I see absolutely floors me. I hope with all my soul it didn’t show in my face, but it was disturbing. This beautiful little girl had only what I can describe as ‘eye tumours.’ Her right eye was completely taken over, and the white tumour which had grown straight out from her cornea protruded out from her eye ball. It was like a white marble attached to her lens. It was so large her eye no longer closed, and when she blinked the top eyelid just bumped into the marble and a few tears would sprinkle out. She had of course lost sight in the eye. The whole thing had taken about a year. The bigger issue, as if there could be, was a white spot just as the first had begun, was now forming in her other eye. With in a year, her other eye will be the same. I have ABSOLUTELY NO idea what to say or do. I ask if they had been to the clinic, helpful me, and the mother said yes. The people at the clinic had told her they could treat it but it would cost 600 Birr. Six hundred birr might as well be a billion dollars to these people. And, to be honest, I don’t know what clinic she was referring to, but it didn’t seem easily treated and I doubt the ability of the local clinic to treat it. The mother actually asked me to take a picture, they know it can help. I am debating if I should put the picture up or not. It’s quite graphic and hard to look at without your eyes watering from sympathy pain and sadness. Let me know what you think. So again, I had to say I’m sorry, I’m useless, good luck with that—Chau!! That ride home and that night were my longest thus far in Ethiopia. Sometimes my job sucks, it really truly sucks.

Well, if you have made it this far, I am impressed. My random ramblings are quite cathartic for me, but I’m not sure how readable they are for you. I hope you are all well and hope to write more soon. Happy Holidays, by the way. I get two Christmas’s the “Western” Christmas on December 25, and then the Orthodox Christmas on January 7th. Yea for me J


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