Another week

November 18, 2007

This last week has been fairly normal, similar to last week. Teaching continues to go well, especially with grade 10. Grade 7 and 8 are beginning to settle down, now that they know that I’m prepared to punish them. Hopefully they continue to give my head peace.

Street ministry this week was much more normal, and though the police were there again, they were there to protect us this time. They sat and listened while we talked with the same guys who we were talking with the previous week. Some of the kids on the street are very young, and its shocking to see them, maybe 10 or 11 years old sleeping on the street. Most of them run away from their families and wind up on the streets of Addis. Marion, the Canadian Bingham teacher who runs the street ministry said that one of the boys that they visit on a regular basis had recently become a Christian, and expressed an interest in returning to his family up country. He had run away because he had stolen 2000birr from his family and was too afraid to go back and face them. So Marion and Dundee got in contact with the mother of this kid, who was delighted and said she would love to have her son back. Dundee apparently knows some people near to where they live so he can oversee the whole situation. Great news!

On Saturday, we took the street kids from the Horizon project out for a day trip. They were extremely excited, though a couple were denied the trip as they had been skipping school. This is fair enough because Bingham pays for these guys books and uniforms so it was a bit ungrateful of the two lads who were skipping. They’ll have learnt their lesson, as they were distraught not to be allowed to go, and stood in tears as the bus left without them. Tough love I guess, they certainly won’t skip school again and the others on the bus will learn not to either! We drove out of Addis for an our or so, initially to the Genisis Farms Project which seeks to teach local Ethiopians farming techniques as well as the gospel. The boys listened intently.

This dog looked cute, but I kept my distance, and was glad I did, as he nipped at Amanda’s hand when she was stroking him and drew blood.

Impressing us with their acrobatics

After the farm, we headed off to the Ethiopian Air Force Officers Club. There is a swimming pool there that is open to the public, and is extremely cheap. It cost 20 birr (£1) for an adult and 8 birr for the kids, for the whole day (in comparison, the much smaller pool at the Sheraton in Addis costs about 150 birr). The pool itself is Olympic sized, 50m, with 4 or 5 diving boards, some of them very high. Best of all, it was completely empty. Swimming obviously isn’t a traditional Ethiopian activity. Brian was slightly anxious, having heard a story about a club who took some ethiopians swimming, and asked if they could swim. One guy swore he could, jumped in and didn’t come out. Determined to avoid a similar situation, Brian decided to make them all go in the shallow pool to see if any of them should be allowed in the bigger pool. None of them could really swim at all, and fortunately none of them even wanted to venture into the bigger pool. We went for a swim in the bigger pool, glad not to have to be on the lookout for drowning street kids.

The view on the way home

Today, I went to an Ethiopian wedding, my house worker’s daughter and sister were getting married in a double whammy marriage. There were several people from Bingham going so we all piled into one of the cars and set off. No-one had any idea where the chuch was and had only got vague directions so we knew it would be an adventure. After driving up and down the given street for a while, we started asking some of the locals. This was difficult, as none of us spoke very good Amharic. Also, in Ethiopia it is impolite to say you don’t know when asked for directions. So everyone we spoke to gave us directions, which led us to all sorts of places. Eventually we found the place.

The ceremony was enjoyable, we could tell what was going on, even though we didn’t understand a word of it. The music was quite funny, there was one guy playing an electric keyboard, complete with electronic drum sounds and 80s synthesiser sounds. There was a lot of dancing, singing and clapping. The only downside was that they had about 10 photographers who swarmed about like paparazzi. They were determined to take plenty of footage of the audience which would have been fine, though they had an extremely bright floodlight for each camera which they shined directly at our faces for the duration of the service. It was very irratating and I left with a throbbing headache.

Thats all for this week,



Concerts and Street Ministry

November 10, 2007

I haven’t posted for a week or so, so its a pretty long post here. Enjoy!

Another busy week has just passed here, life here at Bingham goes at a very quick pace. I’m still trying to find my feet as a teacher, as I’ve been kind of thrown in at the deep end; I’m teaching grade 7 and 8 which are the notorious classes for behaviour in the school.

Monday I had a lesson observation, which I’d purposely scheduled to be with my grade 10 class. It went very well, as I knew it would. The kids are great, well motivated, and we get on very well. I guess i must be doing an OK job with them, as they are all now adding me as a “friend” on one of the social network websites. Grade 8, next period, though were abysmal. I was glad I hadn’t been observed for that period. Later in the day, my observer gave very positive feedback, saying that I had a teacher’s knack for getting the kids to think, asking plenty of questions and not just lecturing. I asked for some tips regarding what to do with Grade 8 and she said to come down hard with them, not to try and be their friend. Being friendly works well with Grade 10 but not with Grade 8. So Thursday of this week I had them again, and we set out some boundaries and consequences, which they inevitably broke that class and I had to ensure to stick to the consequences. Its not nice having to be mean to them, I’m not used to being mean, but if I’m not then the rest of the year will be torture. The other teachers say that once they get to know me, and show me some respect, we can work on the friendlier side of things.

On Tuesday and Thursday night I went to some concerts in Addis, on Tuesday there was a Japanese flute and drumming concert which was great, then on Thursday there was a Russian classical music concert with piano and violin. Both very enjoyable. Speaking of drumming, we’ve finally had success on the electric drum front; there is a working set in the school now. Great!!!

Wed night I joined some of the folks who go out on a weekly basis to bring bread and the gospel to the street people in Addis. We met for a meal and prayer beforehand and then left together in a minibus. There were a couple of Ethiopians who came to translate and we, the “forengii”, were split up between them. I was in a group with Summer (Grade 4 Teacher), Don Fisher (Elementary IT Teacher) and Kudsaii (one of my students in Grade 10). Our Ethiopian translator was Dundee. We set off with a bagload of bread and Dundee quickly spotted about 6 kids sitting on the side of the street. We joined them, and Dundee spoke a bit, and then translated as Don shared a bit of his testimony. It wasn’t long however before a crowd began to gather and Dundee said that we should move on, and maybe come back later when the crowd had dispersed. We continued on down the street, and found another 3 boys huddled round a small fire of cardboard that they were having to keep adding to to keep it going. Dundee spoke to them and asked if we could sit down. We sat down on the road, and they made sure we had some of their cardboard fuel to sit on. We began to talk to them a bit, but again a crowd began to gather. Dundee tried to talk to the boys a bit but became vexed by what some people in the crowd were talking about. He stood up and began talking in Amharic to them. The boys continued to put cardboard on the fire as Dundee talked, when the ran out I saw that they were tempted to put their plastic sacks that they use as sleeping bags on, to keep us warm. We quickly gave them back the cardboard seats they had given us to ensure that they didn’t do this. Meanwhile, Dundee was deep in conversation with some of the members of the crowd, which had continued to grow to the point where it became intimidating as we sat on the pavement around the fire. Suddenly, a truck came around the corner and literally rammed some of the crowd who were standing on the road. 4 policemen got out, 2 with AK47 rifles slung around their shoulders. They came up to Dundee and began talking to him in Amharic. I saw Dundee get ID out and give it to one of the policemen. The policemen took the bibles that we had brought with us, and flung them on the bonnet of his truck. After what seemed like hours of hurried conversation with the policeman, Dundee came to us and said, “OK we will go with them.” We all climbed into the back of this police truck, Dundee leaned round and said “Its OK. Its positive.” A woman who was standing watching began pleading with the policemen, clearly upset. She was begging the policeman for something, and he permitted her to sit in the front with him. 2 of the policemen with the rifles climbed into the back too, and we set off down the road.

About 1 minute down the road the truck stopped, turned around and headed back up the road. We got to almost opposite where we had come from and the policeman got out with the woman, who was now in floods of tears. Dundee, the woman and the policeman began into a conversation that probably lasted about 10 minutes but again seemed like years. Eventually Dundee said “OK we can go”. We got down off the truck and the conversation between Dundee, the woman and the policeman continued. After about another 5 minutes, the three of them swapped numbers and the police drove off. The woman then continued to talk to Dundee, and then turned to us. Dundee told us that she wanted to join us in our work, but as we were about done for the night he had given her his number. She shook our hands, hugged us and expressed her joy at our work. She then prayed for us, and we listened as she prayed in Amharic, I heard her say “God” and “Thank You” many times. It was very moving. We parted company and we returned to the other groups who were waiting for us. Dundee explained all that had gone on.

Apparently the crowd had started to gather and some of the people had begun to talk about us, telling other members of the crowd that we were deceiving the street kids, bribing them with bread. It was then that Dundee stood up and began to try and explain to them why we were doing this, explaining we were doing this out of love. This was when the police showed up. The police’s main concern was apparently for the safety of the “forengii”. The saw the crowd and decided to intervene, taking us on the back of their truck away from the crowd and the danger as they saw it. They were apparently arguing with Dundee that this was the wrong time to be doing this type of thing, claiming that it was against the law. Dundee hit back saying that he was a law student and he knew that this was not the case. Apparently he said “I know the Gospel but I also know the Law. So if you try and stop me you will waste your time”. The police apparently relented and said that this was OK, but that the next time that Dundee wanted to do street ministry of this type that he should call the police so that they could protect the “forengii”. They swapped numbers so that this could be accomplished. So in the end it was fairly harmless, but when you don’t speak Amharic and you’re in the middle of the whole situation you can do little else but trust God. A great experience nonetheless!

Some development on the situation is that later in the week, the policeman phoned Dundee and apologised! He said that he wants to go with Dundee and have coffee and talk about spiritual matters. Praise God!

Friday was “Crazy Hat Day” at Bingham. Everyone is encouraged to bring a crazy hat to wear and earn points for the your house. Some of the girls and I got together to make something to wear. I thought that I could just stick 2 of my drumsticks to a baseball cap I have with me, but once I got down to the art room, began creating my own. I went with rolled up corrugated cardboard instead of drumsticks so they’d be lighter. A few photos of the end results follow.

Steph (with a bird on her head) and Summer (with a bug.)

Christina with a multi-cultural hat, and my drum hat.

Summer and Amanda (with a last minute work of art.)

Crazy Hat Day certainly was crazy, most of the teachers participated and a good number of the students did as well, even a lot of the older ones. Some mad examples were; two skateboards duck-taped together, a kettle, etc. One of the other I.T. teachers dangled all sorts of floppy discs and CDs from his hat and then got his pupils to name all the storage devices he was wearing in class.

Saturday morning, I joined up with the Horizon project where some of the staff invite about 25 local street kids into the compound where they play football, sometimes they take them on outings. They have a small devotion at the end. Today they had a football match with some other street kids who are sponsored by a local church. Unfortunately they lost, but it didn’t dampen their mood. Brian is quite involved with them, and he had managed to get some clothing donations to give to them all. There were only 2 pairs of shoes unfortunately, as that was what they all wanted; their footwear is mostly worn through. They all picked numbers from a hat to decide who got to pick first, numbers 1 and 2 got the shoes. The ones who were stuck with later numbers, and only got to pick from pink girls clothes took it extremely well, which was great to see, but they were obviously disappointed. Its awful to think of how we throw clothes out in the western world. Its good to get involved with them, they are really likable, and you see them all the time outside the compound, if they know you, they’re really keen to help you without looking for money in return. It means you don’t get hassled so much by the others if you’re with one of them.

All the kids preparing for their match

In action

Browsing the clothes before hand

Lining up for a number

We went to the cinema tonight in town. Its a large theatre that plays random movies, mostly illegal copies with bad sound. The movie for today was “World Trade Centre”. Not a great movie, but I can’t complain for 25p.

That’s all for now.


Hallowe’en in Ethiopia

November 4, 2007

Another week over here. I’ve managed to shake my stomach problems, having decided that they were linked to my malaria medication. As soon as I stopped taking the medication, I’ve been fine. I’ll have to talk to the doctors here regarding what to do about that.

My regular website continues to give trouble, so I’ll upload some more here. I’ve uploaded some pictures as well.

Teaching continues to go well, the English as 2nd Language kids are especially likeable. I have my first lesson observation tomorrow to assess my teaching and give me some pointers for improvement. Hopefully they won’t sack me on the spot.

Yesterday I returned to Bambis for some groceries, but the couple I went with had some other messages to do, one in the Sheraton Hotel in Addis, there is a bank there. The hotel is mind blowing; its the kind of hotel that would be impressive in the centre of London, let alone in this city. You drive past the beggars with no legs scooting about on trolleys with their hands, and walk into the foyer of this place it takes your breath away at the contrast. Amazing. Its a large hotel, apparently the Hilton is similar, and there are plans to build more hotels similar. Its amazing there are enough rich business men and government officials to keep them all in going!

Anyway, last night Brian had a Hallowe’en house party. I used one of my brothers genius ideas and dressed up as a fried egg, sticking a yellow circle of card to a white outfit. Other outfits were very funny, some pictures follow:

Amanda dressed as a gypsie

“Baby” (he is known by no other name as far as I’ve heard) dressed as some kind of warrior…

Aaron had a genius idea for a costume; he’d gone out that day into the streets of Addis and swapped clothes with the first willing person.

Brian had used a wig that he’d brought from home, along with a tanktop and a pillow to create a very good impression of a white trash/trailer park type character. His beer belly was very authentic looking.

Baby had a friend from America over called Dave; he dressed up as a priest and apparently had some very strange looks in the taxi on the way to Brian’s house.

I got some pictures of Brians farm, they follow. He has a goat, 4 chickens, 2 ducks and a rabbit. He’s getting a pig soon apparently.

Beyonce the goat, and the 2 ducks.

The chickens

The rabbit

Brian decided that Beyonce should be brought in to join the party.

Beyonce on the dance floor

…complete with wig.

Tonight the British folks on compound decided that we should celebrate Guy Fawkes night together, so we had a bonfire together, and they had even managed to find some fireworks. Nothing massive but it was good fun all the same.

Thats all the news over here!


Temporarily moved!!!

October 31, 2007

Hey all! Ok so I’m sure you’ve all noticed this website has been experiencing some problems of late. Basically, these problems still haven’t been sorted out yet; thats the problem with free stuff, you get what you pay for. Anyway, I’ve posted some stuff here temporarily. Hopefully all gets sorted soon!

Now I’ve gotta remember what has happened since the last post!

First and foremost, I’ve started teaching classes for the first time in my life. So far, I’ve survived it. I’m taking grade 7, 8 and 10 for the moment. Grade 10 are by far the easiest class, mainly as they have picked to do I.T. as a subject for G.C.S.E. and the younger classes are still doing it as a compulsory subject. But I’m getting well into the swing of things and almost starting to enjoy myself. Life here on Bingham means you’ve got to be flexible. A French teacher who was meant to be coming out has now been told that she can’t come. This means that Bingham are short of a French teacher, so some reshuffling had to be done and I’ve been given Teaching English as a 2nd Language to a couple of younger pupils on top of my I.T. More practise I guess!

I’m getting settled in to my new apartment. All the problems have been ironed out, namely the water pressure in the shower has been fixed. I’m starting to get used to living alone, but at times wish I had a roommate. I’m hoping to get involved in plenty of the activities on compound so that I have no time to feel alone!

On Saturday morning, we went to a monthly “bazaar” at the I.E.C. church, where locals come to sell crafts and local products. There was a lot of attractive handmade items, and most of the girls came back with 6 bags each. I bought a small stool with a leather seat for 100 birr, I figured if I decided to get other stuff, I’d go back to the next one. Guess I’m not impulsive enough!!!

After the bazaar, we went out to lunch at a local restaurant, where we had a lunchtime buffet for 55 birr (£3). It was the biggest feed I’ve had since coming here, trays and trays of all sorts off fried meats in all sorts of spices. I didn’t eat for the rest of the day. A fantastic meal.

On saturday night, we headed to Brians house to watch a movie, and chill. We were given a tour of his farm which now consists of a goat, 4 chickens, 2 ducks and a rabbit. Quite comical, as they all sleep in the same small shed. However, they seem to get on well together!

This Saturday night, there are rumours of a Halloween party at Brians, so I’m sure that there will be some mad antics then. Some of the British folks on compound are hoping to celebrate bonfire night this weekend too.

This week I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather, my stomach has been playing up. Those on compound said it would happen, so I’m not surprised. I hope that I’m mostly over it, it hasn’t stopped me from teaching thankfully. I’ve not got too many more classes for the rest of the week, so I’ll be able to take it easy.

Must go, I can’t put up any pictures till I get things back up and running properly. I don’t really have any pictures to put up anyway!

Best wishes from Addis,