The fear that I could feel isolated or alone in Axum has been vanquished. I still miss family and friends at home but since I’ve arrived in Axum the local people have been friendly and welcoming. I’m getting to know people at the hospital and people from outside of work. Tuesday this week also saw the arrival of the VSO paediatric nurse volunteer from the Philippines. I’m no longer alone in my massive house!
There are also a number of expats living in Axum. These include two peace corp volunteers and a couple who work at the university (he is an archeology professor and she is a midwifery lecturer) who are living here with two of their children. I’ve met up with people a number of times and had quite a few meals out too. One of the best places to meet is Anste Yohannes restaurant that is run by a lovely couple (he is American and she is Ethiopian). You’re welcomed as part of the family every time you visit.
There have been a number of visitors to Axum as well. Just about to leave is a retired paediatrician from the UK who has been in Axum for three weeks teaching at the medical school. He has also been doing rounds at the hospital and provided an invaluable source of advice and support in my first few weeks here. When he first arrived I also met his friend who was here for a few days. He is an experienced adult consultant who has been involved in medicine in Ethiopia since the 1970’s. A group of American’s has also visited the hospital for a few days. They included an orthopaediac surgeon, a neonatal nurse and a construction worker whose wife is a paediatric nurse. They have an ongoing link with the hospital and brought out surgical equipment and some textbooks.
Other visitors are expected throughout the year. A group of medical students from Barts will be coming out in December. They have a link with the medical students at the university. There is also a health charity in based in Kent consisting of midwives, neonatal nurses and a neonatologist some of whom will be visiting Axum in April. They have ongoing links with Mekelle and Axum providing teaching and training at both hospitals.
There are also, of course, other volunteers who will be visiting during the year. Helen and Ashley, based in Adigrat, have already visited and will be visiting again this coming weekend. More visits between Adigrat and Axum are planned. Other VSO volunteers I arrived in country with in September are also hoping to visit I believe. My parents are also coming out for a visit in January and taking the opportunity to travel around Ethiopia. I’ve also become the health representative on the volunteer committee in Ethiopia so I will get some trips to Addis for meetings during the year and a chance to see other volunteers. All in all I don’t think that I’ll have time to be too lonely.