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“ Far Away this Ship is taking me Faraway……..” September 18, 2011

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Had a monkey on my roof…his/her visit seems to be reoccurring so I think I will give it a name……

So it is 2004 here in Ethiopia and to celebrate I finally re-braided my hair….took a while but I finally did it!!!  undoing the first set of braids took forever!!!! Darn it I have a bloody frog in my bed room!!! BOOOOOOOOOO!!!!  Yea everyone seems to be confused as to how on earth I could possibly do my own hair…. I mean in a country where the national phrase is “its possible”….ummmm

it is possible that I can do my own hair…..

I wish I had a video camera following me everywhere there is just so much happening that I want to talk about but don’t remember once I start writing it down!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh yea so my “quality” kerosene stove exploded while I was cooking with it….it didn’t explode once but about 3 times….so I finally bought another smaller one and a charcoal cooker….I told my CP this would be the first and last time I am buying anything that anyone says is “quality”

I guess I should stop being lazy and take my butt to Nekemt!!!

 

 

So I see there is a new group of PC volunteers coming soon…I say in terms of clothes pack what you feel the most comfortable in…I mean you could come to Ethiopia with no luggage and still find items but you might have a hard time finding things….especially if you are a taller female….

 

“Each Morning I Wake Up and Die A Little…” September 18, 2011

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So people are finally starting to get over the initial shock of having a Black American in there town…some people still don’t want to believe it…I mean really at this point if they don’t believe I am American there is no convincing them so whatevs…the people that matter the most in my success understand and that is the most important thing…….

Last week I was told that I am Oromo, Somalian, or Western Oromo….the man swore up and down I was Oromo…I just said tole I am Oromo just so we can finally stop talking about my nationality…..even strangers….

These two men came to the health center looking for the Nigerian Ferengie that works at the Health Office…the health staff told them there is no Nigerian but there is an American girl here…they said no there is a Nigerian girl…

health staff: no there is an American girl….why do you want to speak to her?

2 men: we want to ask her about her country….Health Staff well she is not here bye…

well apparently I was at the HC when this exchange took place I was told after the fact by my counterpart…at first I was a little worried and confused as to why 2

random strangers walked all the way to the HC which is already super far to ask to speak to me umm based on the description I don’t think I know who they are….anyways stuff like that reminds me just how fast word gets out……

I know we were told during training to expect being compared to the last volunteer…well that doesn’t happen too often in my case…but when it does happen…..the most obvious and the first thing they point out is the color of my skin….”it is like Ethiopian”…”I am very Long”, ” I don’t have a habesha boyfriend” “You are from Texas the south part of America…so on so forth…. But the one comparison I could stand to live without is language!!!

Why because even in language we were both different….she spoke Amharic…and I on the other hand love Afan Oromo…everyday I grow to appreciate Oromifa…maybe cause I can actually understand it…but for some reason most of the family on my block that knew her very well mainly speak Amharic and they sort of expect me to speak Amharic like the last girl…. So when I say “Amharic hin beeku” or “tinish Amharic” they look confused almost annoyed…its like they all want me to speak Amharic and maybe some Afan Oromo….I finally programmed my brain to Afan Oromo…….. but at the end of the day learning both language will only enhance and benefit my stay in Ethiopia, but I am in Oromiya all of our signs are in Afan Oromo!

 

Anywho its whateves…..im still enjoying life!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferengie Ferengie Ferengie September 1, 2011

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Here are Some of the problems I have  encountered:

I live in the rural part of Ethiopia so for the most part many people live a very simple and quite life. Currently because of the road construction my town has seen an influx of ferengies (the Chinese are building the roads so they live here).

Now for the most part I love my town, but it is a little frustrating sometimes going to the suki or gas station to fill up my kerosene by myself because I get called names; I have been called China, Korea, India, Ferengie, Habesha Ferengie, You, Anchi, Jamaica, Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, (Any African country ever colonized by the British)…. I just ignore it and move on, it is difficult to try and explain what it is to be Black American but then I thought about it, even in the states I have people asking me where I am from all the time except in that case it is usually during a private conversation and not yelled at you on your way to the market, usually it is the boys on the streets that don’t have anything to do that bother me most people are respectful.

I won’t lie I stand out though  …One. because being 5’10’ or 182 cm is a giant here, I am taller than about 85% of the pop except I hear the people in Gambella and Afar region are super tall. Two, I always wear pants most of the women here wear skirts and I am just not comfortable in a skirt so I opt for pants. Third I own a pair of rainboats that I happen to wear a lot because my town is super muddy, and I also get laughed at my the men because of it….apparently years ago it was illegal for women to wear rainboats so I am pretty much crossing the gender barrier on every level. Fourthly I talk funny, I mix English with Afan Oromo with Amharic. Also I wear my hair different too the type of braids I have in aren’t very common around here although I have seen women with similar braids in Addis but for the most part it is different….so yea I do stick out a lot more than I thought I would; and one of the high school teachers in my town told me I had a very strong Angela Davis male like confidence that isn’t common amongst Ethiopian women, that is how he knew I was a foreigner .

Peace Corps did tell us that most female volunteers find themselves in a limbo we play the role of a third gender because though we are women we do get away with doing things women in our society are not allowed to do. But the one thing I am excited about is the push for Women’s Rights because this is truly a male dominated society…I will save that rant for another day!!!!!!

But you know everytime I introduce myself they ask are you married….no Hin herumne (Not married Afan Oromo) and I plan on staying that way for a long time, most women here look forward to marriage so the idea of a woman not being married is strange. Now the last PCV in my town married herself an Ethiopian she met during pre-service training….Yea that isn’t going to happen this time around, I came here with the intent on helping my community and I really want to incorporate gender equality issues in program, and I did not forfeit the luxuries I had back home to come here and find a husband that is just out of the question for me on top of that I have other plans for my future, however,  I am curious as to what the husband could possibly do for a living when they get back to the states I can imagine that being a very difficult situation. So really  all this talk about marriage needs to fly away with the birds where it belongs I didn’t care for it while I was in America I really don’t care for it now when I need to inspire my African sisters. Other than being a ferengie and feeling powerless as a woman sometimes, I am really Loving Ethiopia.

I love the food when I make it my way, I find myself putting burberry on everything, the people are warm and open, I find myself drinking shayee everyday like a habesha I haven’t warmed up to coffee just yet but im getting there. Overall Ethiopia is a beautiful country with lots of history and culture and I look forward to the next 2 yrs and I will keep you all back home updated on my life sorry it took so long to write!!!!!  Now I will say I actually miss West African Food A LOT!!!! I want plaintains and Jollof Rice…I crave Suya and I am having the hardest time finding Peanuts so send me some Peanuts!!!!

 

MORE TO COME!!!!!!

NAGGATI

AKAM JIRTA!!!! HI EVERYONE ITS BEEN A LONG TIME September 1, 2011

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It has been a pretty long time since I updated my blog!!

Woot….well I have been living in Ethiopia for 3 months now and for the most part I love it….last night my landlord was blasting Ethiopian church music and I was in my room secretly jamming to it, then it really hit me that I AM LIVING IN Ethiopia. Ethiopia is so different mainly the time system and the months…there is habesha time and ferengie time, there is a habesha calendar and a ferengie calander….To introduce you to words…Habesha is what most highland Ethiopians call themselves and Ferengie means white person but they call most foreigners ferengie. The time system was super confusing I still don’t get some of it but for the most part I get it….it takes time because I have to specify which time system I am using…Ethiopian or Western Time.

Any who, our Pre-sevice training was in Arsi Oromia Region (Most of all the Ethiopian Olympic Long Distance Runners come from this region) and my permanent site is in Shewa on the border of Shewa and Welega  It is beautiful over here but very raining and muddy, and my town is incredibly HOT and 80% of my town is a Malaria zone. For the most part I like my town, I am about 230km from Addis Ababa or Finfinee (Original name of Addis Afan Oromo), right now there is major road construction so the travel time has gone up! The big towns next to me are Ambo (East) and Nekemt  (West) the main language in my town is Afan Oromo but Amharic is widely spoken….I will admit I like Oromifa better than Amharic, mainly cause I can actually read it and people get super excited when I speak Oromifa.

I cook for myself everyday which is totally different from back home because usually my mother did most if not all the cooking, it is a little hard for me because I really don’t like cooking, but I did not realize that I was such a good cook till I forced myself to actually do it; as a result of that my landlord’s family has asked me to cook for them and back in Arsi I cooked for my host family. I have gotten pretty creative with the stuff I make, it is Ethiopian food with my very own spin.  I have def. become a lot more domestic as in I am cleaning my house like every 4 hours as a preventative measure to keep the bugs away!!!!!! I wash my clothes by hand then line dry it no washing machine…I find myself changing as a person every day, doing things I never thought I would do back home or ever in life….

 

MORE TO COME!!!

Kinky Gazpacho by Lori L. Tharps and the Women’s Murder Club Series February 22, 2011

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Other than reading up on Ethiopia and HIV, I recently rekindled my love for  reading and my new favorite book is

KINKY GAZPACHOS By LORI L. THARPS

I  picked up a book called Kinky Gazpacho by Lori L. Tharps, I am loving this book a lot it is her personal memoir as a black woman growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, and attending white schools all her life and being labeled by other black women in her town as speaking “white” or being uppity, plus she is from Wisconsin and lived in Madison, Wisconsin wish is absolutely beautiful during the spring time. This book is sort of a bildungsroman as she comes to terms with being a proud black woman that enjoys cultural diversity and does not fit a certain mold society or some of her peers expect from her, but most of all being happy with the person she is!

I absolutely love this book and in many ways I can relate to Lori (I went to schools were I was the only black person in my grade (elementary through junior high) or one of 7 black girls in my high school graduating class of 2006) and like Lori I maintain a cultural and racially diverse group of friends, and like her I faced some of the internal issues she faced as a Black woman. The part were she goes to a Black Student Union event at Smith college her freshman year and leaving before the event started because she felt like a complete outsider and she cried her eyes out feeling like she was unwanted by her race (I will admit I did not see why she cried, I could tell how much she wanted to be liked by the women in the BSU but it was obvious those girls were cliquish either way I felt for her) ….I had a similar event my freshman year going to a Nigerian Student Union meeting though I knew one girl from my high school (we weren’t very close) and stayed through the first meeting I too felt like a complete outsider amongst people that were suppose to be like me, I did not go back to my dorm room and cry, rather I told my Filipino roommate and now very good and close friend how unappealing the organization was.

I am looking forward to reading more by this author (she writes a very popular book on black hair and funny she gives a great account of her experience in morocco as an exchange student in high school sort of reminds me of my future journey with the PC; either way Mrs. Lori ends up marrying a Spaniard from Andalucía and I believe they currently reside in the USofA with her children.

Next I will read Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America by the same author and I think I will blog about my plans for my hair while in Africa.

W OMEN’S MURDER CLUB SERIES  by James Patterson

When it comes to books I do not discriminate whether it be Salmen Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children or Kate Chopin’s The Awakening I love a great compelling story.  Pride and Prejudice is still my all time favorite however; I  can not say the same about Jane Eyre I really could not stand that book I did not like any of the characters and I thought Charlotte Bronte wrote a lovely book full of words but I could not connect with any of the characters either way.

I will say I tend to enjoy classic novels more than anything but I did develop a love for Mystery/thriller series when I was younger,  Agatha Christy, Nancy Drew, and  Stephen King books were my thing occasionally I did enjoy an R.L Stine book. I thought it would be interesting to try out James Patterson just to see what all the fuss was about  ( he holds the record as best selling author) so far I am loving the series it is interesting and fast pace. I also read Quickie and Along Came A Spider; though both books were good and interesting I felt like I connected more with the women in the Women’s murder club, I did read a Kate White mystery and enjoyed it but cannot seem to find the other books in the series…. so for now I will finish the WMC series and then go from there.

Either way that is it for my rambling today…although I will say it is interesting watching the events taking place in North Africa and do wonder what affect it will have on my future destination!

HASTA LA BYE BYE!!

Got my RainBoots for Ethiopia and Reading Up on HIV!!! February 22, 2011

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I made progress, Today I received the first items I purchased for Ethiopia….Rain boots and a rain coat got them on Amazon Chooka Signature they are Teal Rubber rain boots and they look very sturdy and inexpensive.

Time is honestly flying, days seem to be going by a lot faster than when I first started my application! I am definitely excited about leaving and cannot wait, I have read up a lot about Ethiopia and I have done a significant amount of research on HIV/AIDS. For one I knew there were two different types HIV-1 and HIV-2 research focuses more on HIV-1 but I learned a whole lot about HIV-2 (even though its mainly in West Africa and Portugal (because of the heavy Portuguese influence and presence in that region); but the one thing I learned about HIV-2 is that scientist planning on creating an HIV vaccine are looking at the HIV-2 strain as a hope for developing an effective vaccination. Why, because HIV-2 is slow to progress unlike HIV-1 and the virus is closer to the SIV virus found in the West African monkeys; moreover; HIV-2 has been enclosed to only West Africa it has not spread really beyond that region other than Portugal and I find that fascinating.

 



NEPA Bring Back The Light January 20, 2011

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My name has always been a conversation starter….Amaka…..

“Oh that’s a pretty name where are you originally from”, giggle, I’m from Nigeria,

 “Oh I know some Nigerians that is next to KENYA right?” LOL at that point I am dying inside of laughter usually I just keep a straight face and correct the incorrect geographic location.

To avoid embarrassing moments and geographic mix-ups usually when I am asked about my origin I will simply state:

I am from Africa… “Ohhh cool which part” West Africa… “Oh ok do you speak French”… Nope from a Former British Colony….. “Oh ok….” Nigeria… “Oh ok I have family that works in the Oil Region of Nigeria”… that is cool, that is exactly where I am from…. “Cool lots of Nigerians in Houston”…. Yea too many….. “ Haha Yeah I know, you don’t have an accent”….Yeah I move over when I was very young…. “Cool so do you visit” Yep my last visit was winter 2010…. “Awesome, what is it like” Well the city reminds me of the US, internet, shower, satellite TV, AC, shopping, watching movies at the mall, I mean not too different if you are staying in the capital, just do not try driving you will have major problems.

Now the village well LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of MOSQUITOS oh they just love biting me ohhhh I have so many battle scars that haven’t gone away completely and I have a feeling my stay in Ethiopia will have plenty of mosquito bites, sand fly bites, ohhhhh I am just imagining lol and then the bucket showers I remember those while staying in the village (Nigeria), ohhhhh no electricity everything is powered by a diesel generator half the time since NEPA (the national electric company is so corrupt and incompetent) ….I know I will have plenty of bucket showers this time around enough to last two years…but hey its worth it because despite the bucket showers and the many mosquito bites I still enjoy myself….

What I know besides the malaria, mosquitoes, and bucket showers; Ethiopian culture is still very different from Nigerian or any West African culture for that matter, often times we clump Africa all together assuming everyone is alike or speak the same language or even look alike, but that is SOOO WRONG Africa is the most diverse continent on earth and Nigeria is one of the most heterogeneous country on Earth similar to the United States and Spain.

As I wait in anticipation for my trip I always remember besides the bucket showers and mosquitoes Ethiopia will be completely different than the part of Africa I know, and that is exactly what I wanted, I do not know much about East Africa and opportunity is more than perfect for me!!! I can’t wait, but for now I will enjoy the running water, electricity, and endless internet access…booooyahhhh!!!

I just started making a list of what I need to buy…my only dillemia is trying to decide which shoe to leave home…oh brother thank God I have time to gather my self  I realize the stuff I packed when going to Nigeria I never really used so I really want to make sure I pack what I will use in Ethiopia,  as time draws nearer I will hit up all those PCVs in Ethiopia for help!!!

Hasta La BYE BYE!!!

My journey from Applicant to an Invitee went like this…………… January 19, 2011

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MY TIMELINE

Application Began very end of August 2010 and Received invite Dec. 2010

August 28th  to Septembre 2nd  2010  - Finished and submitted application

September 14th    - Interviewed and Nomination: Community Development Worldwide

September 21st – Officially Nominated

September 25th  – Received nomination letter and medical kit

October 25th  – Sent Medical Kit

November 28th 2010-Medically Cleared

December 5th- Heard from Placement Assistant for updated resume

December 8th- Final Placement review complete

December 14th- Contact with placement officer for the first time asking if I would accept an invite for a small business program in Africa leaving May 2011

December 21st- Received Invite in Mail for Ethiopia May 2011

December 23rd- Accepted Invitation

December 28th- Began Invite paperwork

January 5th  2011- Received Dental Clearance

Now I’ve completed a bulk of my paperwork and beginning to make my list of things to by, grad schools and the different programs I want to apply to, looking at different organization I am interested in working for in the future and their requirement, and relaxing and enjoying life.

I kept in close contact with my recruiter throughout the whole process, I contacted my medical nurse assistant once due to a redo test but problem was resolved quickly, a bulk of my time was spent on my teeth, I needed to remove my wisdom teeth

Hasta La Bye Bye!!

DING DING WONG…Why such a drastic move? January 4, 2011

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Why the Peace Corps Well I have always wanted to work for the government or for an international development organization, I enjoy helping people since I am not rich I can’t donate much money so I donate my time. I know time is a precious commodity and I choose to use it doing something positive for others but also, I have always been interested in working for organizations such as the UN, USAID, and The State Department, WHO, The World Bank or any international development organization and I believe PC will give me that opportunity. I enjoy traveling and learning about new and exciting cultures and places. I have known about the PC since high school and I have always wanted to join but wanted to gain more experience and skills before I begin my application process, I am so excited about this journey and embrace it, I know my 2 years will be difficult but I am up and ready for the challenge, this is an opportunity for me to write my future the way I want to live it out, most importantly I am eager to learn as much about Ethiopia over the next 4 months!!!

When I am finished with my services…well I plan on attending graduate school and while in grad school apply to different internships with some international development organizations (UN, WHO, etc) so can go into that field of work. What I don’t want to do after the Peace Corps is move back to Houston, I love Texas and I have Texas Pride, Houston is a great town but the atmosphere is just WAY TOO conservative it has the potential of becoming an up incoming major international city, but I don’t see that happening anytime in the next 2 yeas but there is hope; when Houston becomes a big international city with reliable public transportation then I have no problem moving back, but for now it doesn’t capture my imagination and I long for something better and more interesting. NO SLACKING!!! I WANT TO LIVE OUT MY DREAMS… I also don’t plan on getting married anytime in the next ten years so that is strictly out of the question I want to be a career woman I want to have a career, be my own person, and enjoy life, have my freedom before I potentially give up my rights because you don’t know what ppl are really like until you marry them and all the ugly heads begin to emerge; and I am not sold of the idea at all it might be perfect for some people but im a skeptic; there are lots of things I have heard and seen, plus my 62year old aunt who happens to be married wished she were single LOL….. And most importantly I don’t want to stop volunteering, I plan on remaining active within the community I live in, even if I become a millionaire I always feel like physically serving is much more valuable than the monetary sum donated to a cause, though money is still very nice and makes the world go round and round!!!

One important lesson I am learning while going through this process is that I have to write my life the way I want it and the way I want to live it, sure family and friends have an influence and can make a suggestion but at the end of the day the decision is mine, I will be the one deciding if I want to work for a specific organization, I will be the one deciding where I want to live, sure things don’t always go as planned but the key is not to give up on your dreams to satisfy others or pursue a career you feel someone else thinks will give you the picturesque family of four. Everyone wants to be comfortable and enjoy life, but what I find enjoyable might me be misery for someone else, just like I LOVE horror movies but some people are repulsed by it….so the lesson here is STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF eventually you will find your way through that mushroom cloud we call life, I know I just started to break through the first layer I have a long ways to go. HASTA LA BYE BYE!!

Accepted my Invite HELLO WORLD!!!!! January 4, 2011

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Well I have been Officially invited to serve in Ethiopia and I accepted HED ADVISOR leaving in may!! my PC process started in September 2010 and I received my invitation December 2010. I AM SUPER EXCITED!!!

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