I will be working on a major upgrade to the Budget and Expenditures application for the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance during most of 2009 (I have been in Ethiopia since October, 2008). What follows are some somewhat random thoughts about life on a new continent.
Well, I'm back in the US, mostly over jet lag, and getting used to our land of plenty again. I don't think I will ever take clean water and electricity every day for granted again. I have even started trying to get rid of all the extra "stuff" accumulated over the years to simplify my life a bit. (Good luck with that, John).
As one last journal entry I want to introduce you to some of the people I have met while living in Ethiopia:
and last, but not least,
- Brian and Jess - a wonderful couple working at the International Community School. Brian is a history teacher who really cares about his students and Jess is registrar. They have a great DVD collection and introduced me to the"liar's dice" game.
- Anna - a Geographic Information Systems analyst working on food relief distribution issues using mapping software.
- Brendan - an intense young Canadian looking for effective ways to improve development by NGOs (non-government organizations). He is (or will be for a few more weeks) country directory for Practica, a Dutch NGO working on small farm production issues. He leaves Ethiopia to go back to school at Oxford University.
- Mark - an incredible young man working for International Development Enterprises (IDE) on ways to improve treadle pumps both from a mechanical and supply chain perspective. (Ok, I'm a bit prejudiced since Mark is my son.) Details are on his web site at www.roamingcavetroll.com
- Jason - a Australian/Brit working as emergency coordinator for C.A.R.E. Jason and Mark rode motorcycles 7000 kilometers from Munich, Germany to Addis Ababa this summer. It was quite a trip.
- Christina - a volunteer (as in she got some minor payment but basically paid her way to be in Ethiopia for six months) nurse from Canada. Even after being robbed of her computer and camera at knife point she still maintained a wonderful caring attitude.
- Ashley - a young engineer in her first job out of college. She also works for IDE and is working on improvements to several pump types. She has worked hard to learn Amharic so she can talk to the people she works with. I'm amazed at her ability to figure out the "Merkato" - one of the largest market areas in Africa - to find the equipment and parts she needs.
- Nehemia - a young man who recently graduated from an Ethiopian university with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He ended up working as a programmer and has contributed significantly to my project. If Ethiopia can create more workers like Nehemia the future looks bright.
- Tsege - my house keeper. Having "domestic help" was a new experience for me but Tsege just did what needed to be done to keep the house clean. She even invited me to her daughter's wedding.
- the Reform Support Unit staff - We had some political issues with the project that did not get resolved until last spring. As it turns out the administrative staff, the drivers, and even the tea ladies and cleaners just wanted a decent place to work. It was good to get to know some of them a bit.
- Catriona - a Scottish physical therapist working for the International Red Cross. She was the first westerner I met while touring St. George Cathedral the first weekend I was in Ethiopia. She had just arrived, too.
- Karen - an American working in the visa section of the US Embassy. Dealing the many people who really want to come to the US is a tiring job but she did it with style and grace. Last spring the murder of a coworker had a significant impact on the embassy staff.
- Philip - an Irishman (who currently lives in France) working for the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce helping with programs and "capacity building" (a popular term in the development community that basically means teaching local folks how to do things better). Philip was consistently enthusiastic and outgoing about everything.
- John - an old had at USAID who commented that he didn't take malaria medicine when he traveled out side of Addis. But, then, he added that he has had malaria four times. Go figure.
- John - an application developer from Denver. I learned a lot about this guy and what is really important to him. Details from the last year have already started to blur together but this experience will shape my approach to life and work for the rest of my life.