Archive for the ‘Ethiopia’ Category

9th Grade Retreat

February 11, 2008

The last week has been fairly relaxed. Grades 10, 11 and 12 are busy doing Mock exams, so I have about half of my timetable free. This will continue for another week. I’m not looking forward to it going back to the regular timetable!

On Wednesday of last week we invited the Horizon Street boys over to Bingham to watch a video. We showed them “Evan Almighty”, a modern comedy about the story of Noah’s Ark. The kids obviously didn’t understand the dialog, but were able to laugh at some of the visual jokes. One of the Ethiopian Bingham workers who is heavily involved with the Horizon Project shared with them after the movie what it was about, and the whole story from the Bible. We took them out for dinner afterwards. The funny thing was that, having not seen a drop of rain for months, while we were watching a movie about a flood, we had the largest downpour of rain since I arrived in this country. For the entire time the movie was running, there was thunder and lightning and extremely heavy rain. Once the movie was finished, it cleared up again.

On Thursday afternoon, my soccer kids had a game against another school. It was at Bingham, but unfortunately, for the second time in a row, the referee didn’t show up. That left it up to one of us to referee the match, I said I would do it for one half and one of their coaches could do it for the second half, but they said that I should just do it for the whole match. I reluctantly agreed, which was a mistake. The first half was fine, and we finished the half level at 2-2. However, the rain clouds were coming again for another downpour which happened shortly into the second half. I was totally unequipped for the weather, and was wearing my glasses which promptly fogged up. I could hardly see 2 feet in front of me, let alone referee a football match, so it was not fun. Apparently, their team got away with murder at times, however, my guys held out for a draw which I was glad about, and I went back in to dry off. I had brought a change of clothes, fortunately, for indoor football that evening.

This weekend, I joined a number of the other teachers on another retreat for a class, this time the 9th grade class. We were heading to an area called Babogya, an SIM owned compound for missionary chill out time. It had recently undergone renovations, and wasn’t strictly open yet, so we took tents to camp there. I was hoping that the rain had finished again for the next month or two. Fortunately, the weather was great.

Babogya is a medium sized lake very close to Debra Zeit, where the Ethiopian Air force Officer’s Swimming pool is that I’ve written about a few times. The SIM compound lies on the side of this lake, and the situation could not be more picturesque. The lake is very clean, we swam in it a lot during the weekend, and the surrounding area and plants make it one of the nicest places I’ve visited in Ethiopia. The kids spent their free time swimming, fishing and generally chilling. We had a number of study sessions, studying the life of Jesus, trying to get them to answer the question: “Who do you say I am?” My small group certainly seemed to enjoy the time and joined in the discussion well.

During a pitch-dark walk home from dinner on Saturday night, we were feeling our way down the steps. Unfortunately, they changed direction. As I was leading, I was the one who had to fall down the drop where the steps should have been. Thankfully, it was something that we could all laugh at; I just wish I’d seen it. Brian insisted we took a picture the next day of the distance I fell in the dark.

These chairs are situated on outside the main building on the compound.

This is the view they have. It’s no wonder it’s the perfect chill out spot.

Other photos here.

Bye from Addis,

Niall

Field Day 2008

February 1, 2008

So I’ve been a while to post again on this, sorry about that. Things are really getting busy here. I’ve got a large number of classes each week, and have a lot of preparation to do for each of them. Any free time I get during school hours I try to prepare for upcoming days so that, as much as possible, my evenings are free. I’m involved with coaching the Junior Varsity soccer team also, (really good fun; they won their first match yesterday!) who practise on Mondays and Thursdays and have matches on some Tuesdays. On Monday evening, I have volleyball, Wed evening is street ministry and Thursday evenings we’ve started indoor soccer. So my schedule is totally full and I am beginning to find myself losing energy. It is hard to decide what to cut out of my schedule though.

Other than being totally busy, things are going well here. I’m loving the new living situation, I’ve seen more of the city in the last 2 or 3 weeks than I did in the first 3 months I was here. It really improves your Amharic also, and its really great to have roommates!!! Living in this house is all good, I’ve even gotten used to the noise made by the church next door. Which is a good job too, cause last night they started up at 1am, and finished up around 7am. It doesn’t bother me, but Brian can’t sleep at all when they are making noise. Not really surprising; I’ve recorded a sample of the singing that we hear often at very early hours of the morning. Take a listen!!!

On Friday and Saturday of this week, we had Sports day or Field day as they call it at Bingham. One of my students had designed and programmed a computer scoring system for the day, so that as race results came in, they could be entered into the computer which automatically totalled house points etc. This was essentially my job, ensuring the program ran smoothly. Most of the time it did, with one or two hiccups. We were able to set up the computers in one of the Toukles that Bingham has beside the sports field. Which meant that I was able to stay out of the sun for the day and didn’t get sunburnt like some of the other staff. On Saturday there was a staff relay, which was good fun also.

On Sunday, we went back to the Ghion to chill, and went to chuch in the evening in a small church service that has recently started. It is organised and run by the family of one of my students. It is really low key, simple and warm. Unlike Beza or IEC, you feel like you’re missed if you’re not there. I’m hoping to help out the musicians with some bongo playing.

Monday was a day of errands, as Bingham was closed for the day; Monday was a holiday because field day was on Saturday. We visited the dreaded Merkato again, I needed to buy some new shoes. I went determined not to get ripped off this time, and adament to do some good haggling. I was able to buy two pairs of shoes, and got them down from the asking price quite a bit, in particular the second pair which I picked up for 130 birr, about £6, where the guy was obviously desparate for the sale. If you make like you’re not interested, get up to walk away, they usually give in.

Temket 2008

January 21, 2008

So the first week of living off compound has passed, and I’m really enjoying it so far and am really glad I made the move. Getting to school in the morning is an early start, but the journey is not difficult, and takes roughly 30 minutes. The taxi journey on the way costs 1 birr 10 cents, (roughly 5p) and on the way home it costs 65 cents, (about 2.5p) because the journey to Bingham is all uphill, so downhill on the way home is cheaper. It is really simple to do, jump on at the bottom of the hill, and say “Waraj Alle” when you want to get off. The taxis themselves are quite funny, I was in quite a fancy one the other day: the speedometer actually worked.

Some more pictures of Brian’s compound:


Our porch


Beyonce and Brian’s new goat, Billy.


The Ikabait (translated literally “House of Stuff”)

I finished my first week of teaching with my new schedule, and it went fairly well, i do have to do a fair bit of preparation but I have a lot more time to spend it the workroom now that I don’t have an apartment on compound. So I’m getting used to a higher workload slowly.

This weekend Brian, his friend Laura, Baby and I went to one of the swimming pools here in Addis for the day. Its at a hotel called the Ghion, and cost 20 birr (£1) for the day. The pool is in a really nice grassy area and its easy to forget that you are in Addis. I’m sure we’ll go back. The pool was a quite a cold temperature and was really refreshing, though you know you are in Africa, the facilities are limited. There are no changing rooms, simply a couple of metal sheets that you stand behind to get changed. I’m not sure how females do it. They have a set of diving boards, a couple of smaller boards and a few high dives, one at 7 or 8 metres. As Brian says, jumping off the highest board isn’t as scary as the actual climb up to them; they have simply a vertical metal ladder. Climbing up a vertical wet metal ladder 7 metres up is quite an experience. I made sure to keep looking up. The lower diving boards are equally funny;one is about 2 metres up, and simply a plank of wood that is covered in plastic. As it is a spring board, you have to walk along a wobbly plank, covered in wet plastic over the concrete before you are over the water.

Today (Sunday) was the traditional Ethiopian celebration of Temket, which is celebrating the ark of the covenant, which the Ethiopians believe they have. So the Orthadox church beside us had quite a celebration on our road, some pictures follow:

They thankfully haven’t started to make noise tonight yet, hopefully I can get to sleep before they do.

Brian and Laura decided to make a video to send back to Brian’s school, of him “training” in Ethiopia, Goat wrestling. This is really an excuse for Brian to dress up in some of the many costumes he has brought from home and fool around on camera. Its funny to see none the less, and the goat wrestling was a real laugh.

Greetings from Addis,

Niall

Moved out

January 12, 2008

Ok so the story as far as the blog goes is that I’m gonna stick to this professional one, which is not nearly as editable but the previous blog is woefully unpredictable. So I’ve got the subscription link up again, it looks slightly different but it serves the same purpose. So if you want to receive an email any time I manage to get something on this site, subscribe using the link on the right. As I haven’t been able to write for a while so once again I’ll do my best to catch up on whats happened over the past week or so.
After returning from Kenya, I was back down to Sodore for the bi-annual SIM missionary conference at Sodere. It became apparent how much of a blessing the conference was; had it not been for that conference, we would not have had to be back from Kenya and would probably have stayed on. Considering the state of Kenya at present, we were very thankful we had left when we did. The actual conference was very enjoyable also. It lasted 5 days, from Monday to Friday. On Monday night, we had a new years eve party, though it was done so as to accommodate the younger children, so the countdown was done at 9.30. Anyway, some of the younger adults stayed up for midnight, marking the new year by all jumping into the pool. The pool is filled from water from the hot springs, and had just been filled so it was absolutely roasting. Hotter than a bath. More like a giant, olympic sized hot-tub. Good fun anyway.
The speaker for the conference was Tom Stellar, a pastor from John Piper’s church who had come over to preach to us and he was very enjoyable. We all enjoyed each other’s company, getting to meet some of the other missionaries in Ethiopia, and relaxing in the pool. Brian had brought along a certain joke machine which gave great entertainment; he could use a remote to make a small box let out a loud noise of someone passing wind. As he knows most of the people at the conference, he was able to go around, placing it in their handbags, standing a small distance off and setting it off. Their immidiate reaction was always “Brian!!!!”. It seems his reputation precedes his practical joking.
On saturday, once I got back, I had been asked by the parents of some of my students to stay at their house and keep their sons company. Which I didn’t mind doing, as their oldest son is the drummer at I.E.C. and is fantastic. So I was only too happy to oblige. It also meant I didn’t have to worry about meals for the couple of days.
Tuesday of this week saw me go to help out with a project organised by Beza church, the lively one. It was truly an event of biblical proportions. They planned to go up to Entoto mountain, just behind Addis, to feed some 4000 hungry people who live on top of it. An enormous amount of planning had gone into the project, we started helping out in one of the 4 tents, plating up the injera and arranging the soft drink ready for the people. I have never seen, nor will ever again see so much injera in all my life. We waited for the people to come, however, although there were people there, there were more like about 400 rather than 4000. After a little enquiring, I found out what had happened. Apparently, Beza had had to ask the Orthadox Church on top of the mountain for permission to organise the event, and the church had given their permission. For some reason, on the day of the event, they had changed their mind, and told all the people on  the mountain not to eat the food because it had not been blessed. The hungry people apparently would rather obey these priests wishes than be fed. It was very frustrating for Beza, who had gone to a lot of trouble to organise this event. As some of the girls said; its not the priests who are the hungry ones. Anyway, they packed all the injera up and made arrangements to distribute it among the people of Addis; we wished them all the best with this, having had enough trouble of our own trying to distribute free food to starving people on a previous occasion.
Street ministry this week on wednesday night was very enjoyable, and encouraging as many of the boys on the street that we have been talking to on various occasions again showed a very keen interest in our message; Summer led some of them in prayer and they accepted Jesus into their lives. They all had a definate attitude chage and all their faces were lit up afterwards; please pray that they will have a real conviction and their faith will take root.
Today I moved off compound to move in with Brian. So it will take some getting used to, and may be tough for the first week or so until I adjust. I’m hoping to find ways to continue participating in all the activities on compound. It is exciting though, and I am looking forward to this new style of living.

Tonight some of us are planning to head out for a meal to celebrate a number of birthdays that are this month… and to hopefully check out a new cinema that has opened. This new cinema actually plays legal movies, new releases at that! Amazing. We’ve also managed to source a couple of pool tables that aren’t in a dodgy back alley shack so hopefully we can get a game or two of that.

Take care,

Niall

Kenya 07

December 29, 2007

Ok so the blog is once again experiencing difficulties, though the server company insist that it will be fixed soon, and when it is it will be much better and more reliable, blah blah blah. Anyway, until its fixed, I’m back here again, and I’ve added a wee function to redirect everyone here if the server is down. So as soon as the server is back up, you’ll be redirected back to the normal place. Simple.

Anyway, when I tried to log on in Kenya to upload some stories, I couldn’t and didn’t want to sort it all out there so I’ve had to remember all that happened to upload it all at once. Enjoy.

We left Addis on Thursday the 20th Dec, to fly to Mombasa via Nairobi. There were 8 of us in the group, Steph M, Steph P, Zoe, Amanda, Christina, Jen, Tracey and myself. We arrived in Mombasa to find that our Cottage owner had failed to arrange a taxi to our accommodation as had been asked, and we had to find one ourselves. Fortunately this didn’t take long. My first impressions of Kenya were that it was vastly different from Ethiopia. It is still African in many ways, but it is definitely much more developed. Their pace of life, their culture, their music, their greetings are all totally different to Ethiopia. Kenya has a very Caribbean feel to it, everyone greets you with a friendly “Jambo!” which means hello. A lot of the language amused us, and had us all quoting the Lion King; “Sante Sana” (Squashed Banana) as in the song the monkey sings means Thank you (not the squashed banana part) and a lot of the shop keepers say “Hakuna Matata” to you. We arrived at our accommodation, which consisted of a couple of basic cottages, and chilled out.

On Friday, we took some time to explore our surroundings, and check out the beach which was beautiful. A proper tropical beach, complete with palm trees, white sandy shores and blue waters. It would have been totally excellent had it not been for the hoards of locals who are extremely irritating with their constant attempt to sell you things. They sit beside you on the beach, trying to make mindless small talk before telling you about some stupid boat they have that they can take you on for very cheap, Christmas deal. The best defence is ignorance, though one particular individual stayed beside me for 10 minutes after I’d started ignoring him, desperately trying to strike up conversation. If they weren’t so annoying, I’d have felt very rude. Amanda got sucked into buying a nativity set which was on the beach, and I was also suckered into a small plaque. It looks nice, but I didn’t want it nor need it. Anyway, Amanda was a bit miffed with her nativity set when she got it back to have a closer look, the figures had been poorly carved and some of them were downright ugly. Everytime we came across other nativity sets in our visits to various shops from then on, she got quite depressed. It was quite amusing though.


Chillin with a freshly opened coconut.

On Saturday, 6 of us left to go on a safari that we had booked, the other 2 stayed behind as they didn’t fancy it. We left quite early in the morning to go to Tsavo park in Kenya. On our morning game drive, we saw quite a lot of gazelle, zebras, ostriches, a couple of hippos and an elephant. For lunch, we checked into our accommodation, which was a camp site, and had a buffet meal. The meal were very nice, and the tents we were staying in were very well equipped, the came with a toilet, shower and wash hand basin. We relaxed for the afternoon, the ground of the campsite is not fenced off, and it is in the middle of the park so sometimes animals can wander through. The camp site staff have spears to protect you at night. In the afternoon, a baboon wandered casually through between two of out tents, Steph M wasn’t too keen to see him and quickly retreated into her tent.


This guy lost one of his tusks in a fight.

In the late afternoon, we went for another game drive, but didn’t see so much. Mostly elephants and some buffalo. Tsavo is the biggest game park in Kenya, its roughly the size of Wales. As a result, all the game is spread out throughout it which means less chance of seeing the big 5. Oh well. I got some great scenery shots though. In the evening we returned for dinner and a camp fire, with campfire stories.

On Sunday morning we went for another game drive, and saw some more elephants, gazelles and some giraffes which was nice. We raced to see lions a couple of times but didn’t manage to catch them. We returned to our cottages, stopping off to visit a traditional Masai Village. The Villagers still retain many of the traditions they lived by, but have obviously done well with the introduction of tourists, and make quite a healthy income showing tourists round their village. Its a bit sad to see, they have been quite westernised and speak very good english.

On monday, we went to see about having a Christmas dinner, we managed to find out that most of the restaurants would be closed on Christmas day and so we stuck with one of the restaurants close to where we were who had a special Christmas menu on. That evening, we had a camp fire, and the family living on the cottage compound joined us to sit and sing various songs. They kindly invited us to dinner, and suggested that they get a goat to cook. Some of the others weren’t too fussed on this idea for Christmas dinner, so we decided to stick to our original plan.

We had a very lazy day on Christmas day, which didn’t really feel like Christmas day at all. We lay on the beach all day, in the evening before dinner, I managed to find an internet cafe that was open and was able to call home via the internet. It was great to talk to everyone in my family, I managed to get about half an hour or so with them, for about a pound, some of the others just called home normally and were charged nearly a pound a minute. We had Christmas dinner in the restaurant, suckling pig with gravy, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts; not too far off a normal Christmas dinner! WE went back to our cottages and the girls wanted to watch a Christmas DVD, they suggested “Holiday” which I’d never seen. They insisted it wasn’t a girly film, so we watched it. Liars.

On Boxing day, we went a little further up the beach, and hung out outside a beachside bar called Forty Thieves. It was great, we lay on the beach, played pool, and had dinner in the restaurant. We reflected the holiday, and laughed at the various stories. I commented that it hadn’t really seemed like being the only guy on a holiday with girls, whether this was because I’d acted more like a girl or they’d acted more like guys. We went back to our cottage, this time I picked a movie, we watched the number 23 with Jim Carrey, which was good.

n the 27th we arranged for a driver to pick us up and take us about Mombasa. Some of the girls wanted to go shopping, but unfortunately, the Kenyan elections were taking place so all the shops were shut. We toured around the town instead, visiting Fort Jesus (so called because it is built in the shape of Jesus on the cross) and the old town of Mombasa. We stopped off at a craft shop where all of the souvenirs are made, and you can also buy the souvenirs for a much cheaper rate than most of the shops, and with no bartering needed. I rather ambitiously bought a stool with an elephant base, which had to be boxed up. However, flying with an African airline has one advantage; they don’t charge for extra hold baggage. Which is good because when we got to the airport, I realised that they weren’t going to let me take my bag on as carry on as I’d hoped. I’d taken a guitar with me, a small one which I’d stuck out the top of my carry on bag. On the way there, no-one had batted an eyelid, but obviously here they are a bit more fussy. So as well as my suitcase and elephant, I had to check in another piece of luggage. They never mentioned anything about extra charges.

We got to Nairobi at about 6pm, and out flight back to Addis wasn’t until about 7am the next morning. Tracey had booked us into a cheap hostel in Nairobi, which she said had gotten bad reviews on the website, so not to expect much. We arrived to the most run down hostel I’ve ever seen, it was a total mess. There were bunk-beds in the rooms, but they were in such bad state, they weren’t safe to have someone on the top bed. Steph sat on her bed only to have it nearly collapse on top of her so one of the attendants came and removed the top bunk from her bed. The walls hadn’t been painted in years and had graffiti all over them. The roof looked like it would collapse, the washroom sink was filthy. It was a real experience, I’ve never stayed anywhere quite like it. We managed to find a takeaway open to get some hot food, and watched another movie on the laptop.

In the morning, we left Nairobi and arrived back in Addis safely. The temperature in Addis is quite cold these days, especially at night. So it is quite a shock to the system after the warm temperatures of Kenya.

Anyway, that’s the lowdown on my trip, it really was an excellent experience. On Monday I leave for Sodore again, there is an SIM conference there. So I’m going back to endure the monkeys again. But it should be a good time, I’ll need to relax as much as I can these days, I have a fairly busy timetable when I start back again.

Hope all your Christmases were enjoyable, Happy New Year,
Niall.

Off to Kenya!

December 19, 2007

So this is my last post before I leave Ethiopia for the first time since October. I’m really looking forward to my first Christmas on the beach; its an experience all the Australian/New Zealand staff swear by so it should be good to experience that. It will also be my first time in the southern hemisphere.

Classes this week have been fairly relaxed and I’ve enjoyed the lesser pace of work. Its been good because I’ve had plenty of things to fill the time instead. Yesterday I accompanied the Grade 6 and 7 classes to Debra Zeit, to the Air Force Officers swimming pool. This time, the water was freezing, so much so that it took your breath away when you got in. The air temperature wasn’t wonderful either and there was a breeze so it was quite cold until you dried off in the sun. Since we are still slightly in the Northern Hemisphere, it is winter here and it is noticable. In the mornings it is getting very cold. One measurement a few days ago was 5 degrees. A few mornings we’ve even had frost. Its the kind of thing I’m used to back home but I didn’t really expect it in Africa!

Phil and Chris Griffin leave today to return home. As I write this, I’m staying up to bid them farewell. They leave at 1.30am. They have been here since August, Phil is the IT teacher who has taken Grade 9 and 12, so after he leaves I will pick up his 10 classes a week. So I’ll be very sad to see him go! He and his wife Chris are lovely people and there will be many sad faces when they are gone. I asked Phil if there would be a lot of work waiting for him when he got back, he said that there probably would, he was still wondering if he wanted to go back at all. I think he has gotten so addicted to teaching he is temted to do a teaching degree and coming back here.

This evening, Dundee and I went out to see some of the street boys that we met the last few weeks on Street ministry. There was no street ministry tonight, so it was just Dundee and I. We took 6 of the boys out for coffee, and bought them egg sandwiches and a drink which they all eagerly devoured. They are all so touched that we would take time out to spend with them, its really great to see. I shared with them the parable of the seed and the sower, and they all said that they wanted to be the fertile soil. Dundee is going to take them to church on sunday which is really encouraging. They are all addicted to cigarrettes and some are addicted to drugs which they want help to beat. So we prayed with them, and I wrote down their names. They are Benian, Yohannes, Casahoun, Indaleh, Tamarat and Mikias if you would like to remember them also.

I’ve discovered that Google Earth has a very detailed view of Addis Ababa. It is possible to zoom right in and see the streets in detail, so I’ve created a couple of files so that you can have a look at Bingham Academy and the house where I’ll be living with Brian after Christmas. Go to the Contact section of my website for all the details!

Must go, my next post will be from Kenya!

Niall

No. 1 thing to have in the event of a fire: a tin opener.

December 16, 2007

So Christmas is very much on its way here, and it is getting very busy. This past week I have been finishing up any assignments with the kids, and finishing off any theory ready for the last 3 days of term in which I don’t plan to do much work with them.

Street ministry was good this week, we had a couple of other Forengi join us, just to observe. They were over visiting for a few weeks. We met up with most of the kids we have been meeting over the past number of weeks. They are always so pleased to see us and sit down with us, listening intently. We met some new kids also, one of whom must have been about 10 years old. He was very cute kid, who had beautiful big eyes but he had a bandaged head. When Dundee asked what happened, he said that he had tried to sleep beside an electricity box, probably for warmth, and had gotten very badly burned.  It is awful to see. This week, I also found out Dundee’s real name, and that his nickname does come from the crocodile version.

Thursday of this week was a day with a lot of excitement on campus, and a day to be thankful. If you are wondering about the title of this post, I’ll explain. Steph Moffett and Steph Paget, who were living together moved into an apartment with another two girls, Christina and Jen, on Sunday of last week. This was to make room for another family who are coming in January. Anyway, this Thursday morning they woke up to smoke coming through the floorboards of their 1st story apartment. Confused as to what was going on, or to how serious the situation was, they got up and woke up the couple who live underneath them. After they roused Murray, our director, they began to try and see what was going on. In an attempt to pry up the floor boards, and in absence of any crowbar, Jen tried to use a tin opener. This has been a subject of much laughter about the compound in what was an otherwise very serious situation. Once Murray got to the house, got the girls and their stuff out, and started prying up the floorboard with a crowbar, the situation became apparent. What seems to have happened is that the night before, the girls had lit a fire in the fireplace, as they had every night before that, and as had been done for most nights previously for most of the building’s 50 year history. This time, though, the fire had burned through its base, which consisted of one layer of bricks and sand, and started burning into the wooden floor. The insulation in between the floorboards was straw. Seemingly, the fire smoldered all night, and didn’t actually catch until the morning when it was discovered. It is a miracle that the damage to the apartment was not worse, and that no-one was hurt in the incident. We are so thankful to God that the only problem now is where to house everyone while the apartment is repaired.

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The damage to the floor, you can see down to the apartment below.

On Friday night Bingham had its Christmas play which the elementary pupils participated in. I was asked to help out with the technical side of things. Once word gets round that you are in the slightest bit competent with <strong>anything</strong> technical, you get asked to help anywhere and everywhere. I don’t mind, its nice to be useful. The play went well and all technical things went smoothly.

On Saturday afternoon we had a “Gibsha” for the Ethiopian staff of Bingham. This was essentially a large afternoon meal to say thanks for all the hard work that they all do. The event was held under large marquees and for lunch was, of course, injera. All the staff and their families were there and it was great to see all the families of the workers that you see about compound all the time. There were also some acknowledgements to the Ethiopian staff who’ve served at Bingham for over 20 years, some even serving over 40 years.

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My plate of injera complete with toppings.

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Coffee ceremony: Roasting the coffee beans.

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Freshly roasted coffee beans.

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Amanda wrist deep in injera and wot (the sauce with the injera)

After everyone had eaten, there was a vast amount of leftovers. Brian had the idea to drive around Addis and give it out to the beggars. We boxed all the injera and wot up into packages and loaded it into one of the cars. Brian was anxious that it go to those who needed it most, and knowing that at the first sign of stuff being handed out the car would be swamped, he devised a way to ensure only a couple of needy people got food at each stop. By waiting in traffic, and handing out food quickly just before driving off, we could ensure that a crowd would never gather. A Drive-by-Fooding as Brian called it.

We set off and found some people with problems to give the food to. Most of the people that we handed the packages were extremely grateful, some however seemed unnecessarily fussy, claiming stomach trouble, fasting or other excuses and not accepting the food. We did manage to find enough grateful people to hand it all to.

On Saturday evening, I was invited to the home of one of my students, Eric Blacksten, along with a couple of the other teachers. They had organised a Gingerbread house decorating competition. We were divided into 3 teams, and each team was given a blank gingerbread house made by Mrs. Blacksten (works of art in themselves). We were all given various colours of icing and various biscuits, sweets, marshmallows, cocktail sticks etc with which to decorate the houses. Our team went with a traditional approach, with Santa stuck down the chimney, reindeer on the roof (and some on the ground who’d fallen off) and other traditional things. Murray Overton’s group made an Ethiopian themed house, with a water tank on the roof, a satellite dish (essential stuff according to Murray), taxis and other Ethiopian things. Brian’s group decided to make a house regarding current events, and put fire on one side of their house. No group with Brian in it wouldn’t have a dig at Murray in some way, so he made a Murray figure out of marshmallows, trying to put out the fire while at the same time saluting the American flag. This was very funny as Murray is very proud of his New Zealand heritage.

After all the houses were finished, the houses were judged by Mr and Mrs Blacksten, who announced that the competition was a draw. However, when it was time for us to leave, Mrs Blacksten asked if we would like to take the other two team’s houses home, and if she could hold on to ours, making it fairly obvious whose house she liked best. Alright! The evening was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done at Christmas time, really great craic.

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Brian’s team’s house, the “Keep out” was to do with Murray not wanting anyone visiting Bingham while all the commotion was going on.

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Here he is, trying to put out the fire apparently.

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Our team’s house, complete with Santa, reindeer, snowmen and Christmas tree and a “Santa Stop” sign.

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The Ethiopian house, complete with water tank, taxis and even a tramp sleeping outside.

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As always, I’ve uploaded some more pictures, check them out <a href=”http://deniall.x10hosting.com/coppermine/thumbnails.php?album=13″>here.</a&gt;

This evening is the Forengi staff Christmas event at Bingham, I’m singing in the choir. Next week will be fairly relaxed, I have 3 days of school, one of which I will be taking the grade 7 students swimming in the Ethiopian Airforce Officers club pool I was at before. On Thursday, I head to Kenya for 8 days where I’ll be staying on Mombasa beach. We’ve managed to organise a 2 day Safari which I’m really looking forward to.

In closing I’d just like to share about another missionary from down country who we have all been thinking and praying about here. She is a young woman, on a short term service, in Ethiopia, down south of Addis. She was driving and had an accident where she hit and killed a small child. Given the respect that people give to the roads here, it seems amazing that this is not an everyday occurrence, as kids wander out aimlessly in front of speeding cars all the time. Anyway, she unfortunately hit this young child. This was clearly not her fault, apparently, so much so that the parents of the child were willing to sign a statement freeing her of any blame. However, this is Ethiopia and the law states, as I’ve said before, that someone must go to jail for 15 years if they’re involved in a fatal accident. So the police are charging her with manslaughter. She has been granted bail and has been allowed to return to her home country to see her parents, but she must return to go to court here on Feb 14th of next year. Just something else to remember in prayer.

Niall

Follow the star

December 9, 2007

I’m now completely moved from my apartment, for the moment, I have moved to the smaller one they assigned me. It is very small, and I am quite glad to only be staying temporarily here. I thought that I would stay on compound until after christmas, as there is a lot here that I am involved in. Come January, I’ll make the move off compound and into Brian’s <strike>farm</strike> house. I’m quite looking forward to it, it will enable me to see so much more of the city and Addis life, rather than the American/Canadian/New Zealand/Australian community at Bingham. One of the I.T. technicians who works at Bingham is now living in Brian’s ikabait (literally translated as “house of stuff”, basically an outhouse) which means that I will be able to get a taxi in with him in the mornings and home again. Which will mean I’ll have someone to share the ride with, and will help with getting used to the taxi route.

Last night, the Bingham annual Christmas banquet was held. It is essentially a prom event for the older pupils of the school. It is organised primarily by the parents of the pupils, and a lot of work is put into it each year. I bought a suit to attend for 600 birr or £30. Not bad. The parents had put a nativity theme into the evening, 3 of the parents had dressed up as wise men. The sports hall had been decorated by the art teachers and looked beautiful. They had used large sheets hung up and cut out black cardboard into various christmas shapes that they stapled to the sheets. They shone spotlights behind the sheets to create a sillouette effect, which looked very convincing. After the dinner and games, during which Brian MC’d, we had some performances from the students, who sang some songs. Amanda, who was in charge of organising the performers, had been a little short of performers so I volunteered to sing and play the guitar. Judging by people’s reactions, it wasn’t too bad. After the acts, the three wise men told us all to “Follow the star! Bring your gifts for the King!”, where they had a star on a pole that we all followed into the assembly hall where they had made a nativity scene. We had been told to bring small wrapped gifts that we then exchanged in groups. Gift exchange was done in a slightly different way, whereby each person in a group of about 20 was given a number, and everyone put their gift into the center. In order of the numbers given at the start, people can choose to pick a gift from the middle, or take a gift that someone has already opened. If one is taken from somebody, they then get to either pick a new gift, or take another person’s. This continues until the last gift is taken and everyone has a gift. Somehow, World War 3 didn’t break out and everyone left peacefully.
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Brian in traditional Ethiopian outfit

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Following the star…

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Two of the three wise men.

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Exchanging gifts

<a href=”http://deniall.x10hosting.com/coppermine/thumbnails.php?album=11″>More pictures…</a>

I have added a tool to subscribe to this blog, if you would like to be emailed everytime I add a new post, enter your email address on the right hand side.

Niall

Grade 11 retreat

December 6, 2007

So its been well over a week since I’ve posted on the blog, apologies, the past week has been extremely busy. Coming up to Christmas, reports are due, its my first experience of writing reports to parents about how their kids are doing. There are some very good kids, and some not so good kids who it is easy to write about. However, a lot of them blend in and its hard to come up with an individual comment for them. A lot of the comments I gave were “INSERT NAME HERE is doing well in class and is a very polite pupil” etc. Hopefully they won’t read each other’s reports. Anyway, enough of the excuses. I’ll try and summarise all thats happened in the last week as best as I can.

Last week started out fairly normal, with classes as normal, which went well. I have devised a way to bribe the kids into good behavior, I’ve promised that on the last day of term we will have a massive LAN game of Unreal Tournament (Playing video games together on the computer for those who aren’t technically minded). It is a good incentive for them to be good with this prospect, and it will give me a chance to relieve some of those impulses I have to blow some of the more troublesome student’s heads off, even if it is only in a computer game. Ha ha, I jest.

Street ministry last week went well, we had tries to go and scout out more areas, but one of the translators went home early so we weren’t able to take Dundee with us to other areas. This will have to be left for another time.

On Thursday, I joined 4 other teachers accompany the Grade 11 students on their annual spiritual retreat. It was a great chance to get to know some of them better, as I don’t teach any of them, nor will I because none of them take IT. We were going to a place about 2.5 hrs drive outside of addis, quite a bit outside of the city. There are hundreds of tiny villages composed of mud huts. The hotel we stayed at was called Sodere, I will be returning there in a month for the SIM conference that is held there. It an interesting place, definatley an African hotel. They have recently had it re-painted and have gone with an interesting colour scheme, lets just say there must have been a good deal on pink paint. There are hot springs in the grounds of the hotel and they get all their water from them. Thus, the hot water tap is hot, and the cold water tap is hot. The water you flush the toilet with is hot. The shower is hot, and has no cold water to cool it down. The best option for showering was to shower first thing in the morning when the water had cooled in the pipes a bit overnight. The hotel has a fairly large swimming pool, also filled with water from the hot springs, so it was at bath temperature. Not great for doing any serious amount of swimming in, but quite nice for a dip.
The really interesting thing, though was that the grounds of the hotel were infested with monkeys. The same type of monkeys that we met in Negesh, but these ones had a different attitude towards humans. They were extremely bold and were not afraid of you in the slighthest. In fact, if you shooed them, most of them would either look at you, or lunge at you. Because monkeys are carriers of rabies, its best to leave them alone. They are excellent theives, which we were warned about before they came. We were warned on no occasion to leave our rooms open and unnattended as an unfortunate family had left their back door slightly ajar before going for a walk. The monkeys came in, stole medicine, any food they could find as well as some computer games. They apparently trashed the place in the process. I made sure our door was well locked before I went anywhere.
At the restuarant of the hotel, one member of staff has to stay on permanent monkey duty. They have a massive stick to deter the monkeys, and they need it. The first day we came, the person on duty had his back turned for a few seconds, and there were two monkeys sneaked in and made off with a salt cellar. It is quite comical to see.
The actual retreat went well, and all the kids seemed really positive about it. They were thinking about purpose in their studies, and they all listened well.
Some pictures follow:
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Tearing up a juice carton

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Waiting for an oppertunity at the entrance to the restaurant

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Monkeys 1, Restaurant 0.

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Mooching from outside the window

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Sitting waiting wishing.

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Making light work of more rubbish.
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Mother and baby.

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The hotel and it’s interesting colour scheme.

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African mudhuts in the distance.

<a href=”http://deniall.x10hosting.com/coppermine/thumbnails.php?album=10″>More pictures here.</a>

I returned from the retreat to some bad news. After a re-shuffle of apartments, and to fit some more people in who are coming in January, the powers that be have demanded that I move from my apartment. This came as a total shock to me, as far as I was aware, I would have been in this apartment for the rest of the year. Unfortunately that was not the case, as it has two bedrooms. The apartment that they wanted me to move into is depressingly small. Inside it feels like a caravan, the toilet is like a closet. I know one of the girls lived there for the first 3 months, but she spent a lot of time in the other girls apartments. As a guy, its not so easy for me to do that, I spend a lot of time in my own apartment. After raising my concerns with Murray, it was clear he wouldn’t budge on the issue. So I think I will move off campus. Thankfully Brian says that they can fit me into their house, though I will have to share a room for a few months until one of the other guys moves out. So although it will be an adventure living off compound, I will be sad to move off, there is a lot here that I will miss. However, the prospect of spending my remaining months in that apartment is too much to allow me to stay.

Back up and running

November 25, 2007

If you’re here, its probably because you’ve clicked on a history item from you’re browser’s address bar. I’ve got all my original stuff back up, go to deniall.co.uk for the main site again.

Ok so I’ve got all my original stuff back up on a website again, hopefully this time it’ll stay up.

Another week is over, and it brings us one week closer to Christmas. As I write this there are only 30 days until Christmas which seems very short. Some of us here are hoping to get away for Christmas, to Kenya. We’re hoping to spend Christmas in Mombasa, in South Eastern Kenya, on the beach. We had a day off on monday so we went down to the local travel agent to try and arrange something. He had some package holidays but they were all very expensive. We came home and looked for some accomodation outselves, and didn’t have too much luck. Beginning to think we may have left it too late to organise, we have managed to source a couple of cottages on the beach which we can rent for a reasonable price, roughly $20 per person a night. Hopefully we’ll be able to go on a safari also, one of the largest game parks in Kenya is quite close to Mombasa beach. Should get some great pictures there!

On street ministry this week we met a kid who had been offered money in exchange for his kidney. I think he was offered about 4000 birr or £200, which to some of these kids is a fortune. He was offered a trip to Thailand where he would have the operation. These people had paid for his trip and visa. He had gone to Thailand and the doctor in the hospital had asked him to confirm that he was the nephew of the people who were paying him, which is what they had filled out on his visa and other forms. He started to have second thoughts at this stage and decided not to go through with it, returning to life on the streets in Addis. This is quite a problem for the street kids in Addis, as there are a number of people who scout them out in order to obtain organs for next to nothing. Had this guy gone through with it, he may well have died and been left. Obviously there is noone waiting for him to return.

Dundee was also very dissapointed to see one the guys who he helped leave Addis back on the streets. He had helped three kids, and the other two had gone, though this kid had obviously got off the bus at the next stop and returned with the money that Dundee had given him to help him out. Dundee told him in no uncertain terms not to expect any more help from him.

This week was thanksgiving week so some of the younger Americans were feeling a bit homesick. On Saturday evening, we had a community thanksgiving dinner organised by some of the Americans here. Thanksgiving is something that should be instagated in the Ireland too, two Christmas dinners a year can’t be a bad idea. We played games afterwards, the Pictionary/charades game I brought from home caused some laughs.

After the evening’s activities, some of us went to the squash court to play a game of “Wallyball”. This is essentially volleyball played in a squash court, and the ball is allowed to bounce off the side walls and back wall. So you can serve off the wall etc. It is an interesting game, and very entertaining. Trying to judge where to stand as the ball bounces off the wall is extremely hard.

This weekend, I’m heading off on a retreat with the Grade 11 kids, down country. Hot springs etc. Should be good, I’ll get a couple days off teaching! Excellent.

Thats all my news this week,

Niall.