Rebecca Higgins - Amharic in Ethiopia
First Impressions of Addis Ababa
From the moment I stepped off the plane, I knew I had made the right choice going to Ethiopia. Leaving the airport I was instantly hit with the rich Ethiopian culture – even in the dead of night! Driving through the streets at 2am the city was still full of life and music that I would soon learn was the ever so famous Teddy Afro blaring full blast out of the radio, I felt excited over what the next month would have in store for me.
Getting Settled in Ethiopia
On my first day I was welcomed by Biksegn from Projects Abroad who took me for a breakfast consisting of ‘fratera’ - which would soon become my favorite food! He gave me the grand tour of Addis and all the local hotspots. The city is so beautiful and colorful with an atmosphere that makes you feel instantly at home. I immediately felt welcomed and settled by Projects Abroad. I was then taken to meet my host family who welcomed me with big hugs, warm smiles and the most enormous meal I have ever had the pleasure of devouring! The food is completely unique, very tasty and delicious and I could not get enough of it, which boded very well for me since offering more food is a sign of respect in Ethiopia.
My Care Placement
I started my work placement the following day and I fell in love with it immediately. I was working at the Kidane Mihret orphanage in Kebana, where the children range from tiny babies (even those born prematurely) right up to 16 year olds. My job was to give English classes to the 3-4 year old children and to spend time looking after the babies. At times it was difficult both from an emotional and a work point of view however it was a complete pleasure working there every day.
The orphanage is run by two nuns – Sister Camilla and Sister Lutgarda who literally never stop. Seeing the hard work that all the staff put in to the orphanage is truly inspiring. The kids are enthusiastic little balls of energy who crave love and attention from all the volunteers who work there. It is hard work but I can guarantee that anyone who works there will love every minute!
I also attended Amharic classes during my time in Ethiopia, which I loved! It was exciting for me to learn a new language which really came in handy day-to-day and was especially useful with helping to teach the kids. I enjoyed my classes so much that I am continuing with them back in England so when I return to Ethiopia, I can dazzle everyone with my Amharic!
The social events organized by Projects Abroad were such a giggle and a good way to visit places you would not have necessarily known about. My favorite was an evening in a Traditional Ethiopian restaurant – 2000 Habesha. The food was amazing and the entertainment was fantastic! There was traditional dancing and singing and I even got pulled up on stage to try my hand at some of it myself! I made an utter show of myself but had a lot of fun in the process. You’ll be amazed when you see the traditional dancing; they have some impressive shoulder movements going on! This night was also an opportunity to sample the local honey wine, Tej.
My favorite day by far was my trip up to the mountains in Entoto. You can see beautifully breath taking views of rural Addis Ababa as well as visit Emperor Menelik’s Palace and museum which is dedicated to the man who earned great fame for defeating the Italians during his reign. Up in Entoto you are often invited into houses to sample some very interesting tasting home brew. Whilst it wasn’t really to my taste (similar drinking liquid charcoal!), it is a wonderful experience and I had an incredible and memorable day there.
Addis Ababa is an amazing city. I spent just one month there and became absolutely enamored with it. It is so rich in culture and full of friendly, warm faces who want to know all about who you are and where you are from. I loved every last minute I spent in Ethiopia, with my host family, with the kids at the orphanage and seeing all the sights. My only regret is that I did not spend longer there.