With half an eye on coming home to the UK in a little over a month my attention last weekend was split between two events.
Here in Ethiopia all of the VSO Axum volunteers took a trip to Adigrat to visit Helen and Ashley, two of the VSO volunteers there. We got the opportunity to see the paediatric ward there, which is an old army barracks. There is a lot of space compared to Axum hospital and they’re also creating a neonatal unit. I am definitely jealous of the space that they have – all of our unit could fit into one of the rooms they have! The building work is completed for them (ours is still ongoing!) and they had done final cleaning that day. As in Axum there are still some outstanding issues that need to be sorted with the building before equipment can be moved in and the unit start to function. After looking around there was a coffee ceremony for Ashley as she is completing her placement and heading back to the UK. Lots of speeches were given, including a very complimentary one from the hospital CEO, and a beautiful cultural dress was given to her as a present. After the visit to the hospital we had a relaxed weekend with a farewell meal for Ashley combined with an early birthday meal for Helen on Saturday at the local cultural restaurant. We got the Sunday lunchtime minibus back to Axum with lots of twists and turns, unscheduled stops and passengers vomiting it was an enjoyable journey as always!
Back in the UK though I was missing out on all the fun of the Tour de France in Yorkshire. The Tour passed by the bottom of my parent’s street on the Sunday so there was a family party weekend at their house The ‘Hello Hello’ theme, yellow bikes and bunting created a party atmosphere. I got lots of updates and photos of all the action that included late night antics after a gig in Holmfirth I understand 🙂 I really missed being part of the fun there as well as seeing everyone after being here in Ethiopia for a year.
I’m looking forward to heading back to the UK to take part in all the celebrations and fun that happen with family and friends back home. At the same time I will miss all my friends in Ethiopia and the fun and celebrations we have had here.
I realise that it’s been a long time since my last blog. My only excuse is the prolonged festive season that I’ve had!
It started with a pre-Christmas celebration with friends and fellow volunteers Helen and Ashley who came to visit us all in Axum for the weekend before Christmas. To start with we had to go to the market to buy everything needed for Christmas dinner which included the chickens (turkeys not available).
While Helen, Ashley and I escaped the house my amazing housemates did what needed to be done with the end result then stored in the freezer until needed.
We cooked our pre-Christmas dinner that evening. The main problem was the electricity going off just as we started! Most of the meal was cooked by torch light on two kerosene stoves. My proudest achievement now is ‘roasting’ a chicken cooking it whole in a pan on top of a kerosene stove 🙂 The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing including a visit to the local swimming pool.
Christmas day itself, following work in the morning, we used the afternoon to prepare dinner for the 15 of us who were gathering at our house for dinner. Luckily friends who have an oven kindly took the remaining chickens to be properly roasted so my skills weren’t required again! After lots of cooking and only one small finger cut from a knife dinner was ready. Local gin and tonic was the drink of choice (except for the children of course who chose mango juice).
Pudding was mainly provided by my mother who had managed to post out to Ethiopia Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, and a speciality particular to our family but now spreading round the world – Children’s Christmas pudding (lots of chocolate and sweets are involved!)
Following these celebrations I went back to the UK for a week. It was great to catch up with family and friends. My second Christmas was on 30th December with my family. We had a full Christmas dinner with all of the trimmings with Dad carving ……
and mum trying to keep my brother and sister-in-law’s dog off the table!
Cracker gifts this year were wind-up penguins so as well as the traditional board games a penguin race after dinner was included. There was no clear winner as the race was abandoned when the dog tried to eat them 🙂
One of the main focuses of the week home was to attend a very good friend’s wedding. It was a beautiful service and wonderful to be able to see her get married. It was also a good chance to catch up with other friends too.
After returning to Ethiopia today has been my third Christmas. Ethiopian Christmas or Genna is celebrated on 7th January. After preparing yesterday people have spent the night in church. Today greenery has been spread over the floors of people’s houses and the fast broken with meat and dairy products being eaten. Our celebrations have been more low key today with a brief trip into work to wish the nurses Happy Christmas and then relaxing by the swimming pool again.