Gooooood mooooorning Affrriiccaa!!!
Here are 20 things I learned about Ethiopia today….
1. There are thirteen months. 12 x 30 days and 1 x 5 days.
2. Their calendar started seven years after our Gregorian calendar did, so technically, today is the 12th day of the 2nd month, 2010.
3. Our times are different too. Their day starts at dawn being 0000. Sunrise is at 0600 and sunset at 1800 pretty much every day. So, with that logic 0700 is now 0100. 0800 is 0200 etc. Noon is 0600 and supper is 1200. There is much opportunity for time confusion as you can see.
4. The time change to MST is -9 hours and with daylight savings time ending next week it will be a ten hour difference.
5. Addis Ababa means new flower. The capitol city was moved many years ago to be on top of a mountain for greater security measures after the Italians tried to conquer the Ethiopians and colonize them. They were unsuccessful and ironically, now many people say “Ciao!” to each other. I am not sure if it is a thumb up the nose to the Italians or what, but I also find myself wanting to speak Spanish and that is quite strange to all involved.
6. The poverty line is $1.90 USD per day.
7. The two main religions are Ethiopian Christian Orthodox and Muslim. Call to prayer for the Muslims is broadcasted across loud speakers at 0500 our time, so you get to hear the chanting as your alarm clock!
8. Girls are married at 13 years old usually, polygamy is acceptable, and the number of children you have shows your wealth. Ergo the more kids you have the wealthier you are. Plus, so many kids die, you need to have extra for insurance purposes. I am not trying to be flippant, but that is their logic.
9. Women wear their wealth on their person, so if they are divorced or kicked out, what they have is what they get to walk away with. Things are slowly starting to change with divorce settlements, but not regularly.
10. Freedom of speech and the ability to take pictures is limited. If you are seen taking a picture of anything military or of high interest, you are subject to having your camera taken, being brought in for an investigation or jail time. Hence, probably not many pictures of these things from me.
11. Meat in the grocery store has a sticker on it, and it is labelled as “Normal meat”. What is this???? Goat? Sheep? Beef? Horse? Dog??? NO IDEA. I am considering a vegetarian diet….
12. There is no Fido petting here. Death by a rabid dog bite is a real concern.
13. People are not innocent until proven guilty here. It is guilty as accused until proven innocent. Street justice is encouraged.
14. The plastic bags feel about 5x thicker than our grocery store bags.
15. Coffee = Bunna. Tenadum = Sage. Put the two together and it is DELICIOUS.
16. Ishi=okay Ow = yes. Abakoh = please
17. Abakoh bunna sitoin = Please give me some coffee.
18. Grass on the stairs into the entrance of a home is laid down as a way to honor the guests coming in.
19. Popcorn sprinkled with sugar, not unlike kettle corn, is served in a coffee ceremony to honor guests. A focaccia type bread is also served with mashed Burberry spices was also delicious. Who knew it was more than a purse and fashion line from England?!?!?
20. Life expectancy is 63 years old which is a huge improvement from even ten years ago when it was 49.
We then went to the SSCM (Support Street Children & Mothers) training school Canadian Humanitarian sponsors. They are training students to learn how to be 1. Metal workers, 2. Wood workers, 3. Electricians or 4. Hairdressers.
You will have to wait to see the inspirational poster pictures taken. Loved them!
We then had lunch at the Lucy Restaurant that is right beside the Ethiopian History Museum. Lucy is the name of the first humanoid skeleton found here dating back 112 million years ago. The people here think they are where civilization started. There is also a lot of Jewish heritage here.
We then made our way to the Gulele centre yesterday for our first medical/dental sessions.
Canadian Humanitarian has ten centres around Addis and area as well as in the country of Malawi. We will be going there after our two weeks here. They are centres that the poorest kids (as identified by the government and community elders) that are at the most risk for either dying, being taken into the prostitution lifestyle due to lack of choices etc. These centres have kids that game in numbers between 22-70 in any given centre. They participate in being supported to go to school, after school care where they have access to cleaning their teeth every day (which almost never happens to kids here due to the lack of access to running water) as well as a meal every day, after school programming that includes art, drama, singing, crafts etc…. All the children are also either living with single parents or are doubly orphaned and have been taken in by a relative with no other family. Their guardians have access to some supports as well for things like health education. HIV/AIDS support with access to medications like AZT and the proper nutrition required to not have these drugs make them sicker, health and dental care for the kids in the program.
Some of the things we did there was to take pictures of all the kids, fill out intake and assessment forms, do medical assessments, dispense medications prn and make referrals for things/prescriptions needed that we didn’t have.
Some of the patients I saw yesterday were the following….
1. Mother of 7, her four youngest died over the space of one year, as well as her husband. It was attributed to TB, but something wasn’t quite right in the history of her life, but we couldn’t figure out what…until the dentist called us over to look at her youngest surviving son who had Mullbury Molars. It makes the teeth look like cauliflowers on the top, and it is a sign of congenital syphillis. It is likely what her husband and kids also died of.
2. A mother seven years ago in delivery had her bladder torn away and now it sits on top of her vagina and gives her challenges when urinating. I then demo’d keigel exercises on the floor to have her help strengthen her pelvic floor muscles, as surgery is not an option for her. She will have to live with this forever likely.
3. A 15 year old girl with chronic ear infections now has bilateral blown ear drums and needs tympanoplasty, which she will likely never receive and will eventually go deaf.
4. A 14 year old boy with staph infections on his legs with impetigo and open sores all over his ankles. Antibiotics given to save his legs.
I have learned the kids here have a very high pain tolerance and acceptance for their ailments without complaints.
Our day started at 0700 and finished at 2300! Good night everyone!