It’s so easy to start comparing sites….who has it the hardest (no electricity), who has it best (a computer lab and wifi in your school???!?)….but to do that you have to quantify the unquantifiable. It’s as fun as banging your head against the wall.
For the record, my house has occasional electricity, occasional cell service, and a porch! Which is super helpful. Also, a friendly dog (Abu) who just had puppies. My school is shared with grades 1-8, and has no lab or library. The woreda (county? district?) is currently working to raise money to build a high school in my town.
[Side note: peace corps works exceptionally hard to distinguish itself from other aid organizations. Our mission is to empower and educate, primarily. Not provide money. That said, if there’s an opportunity for me to facilitate donations, I’ll let you all know.]
In the chaos of navigating a new culture, town, and bus system; (Septa – I’ve heard you’ve been having troubles lately, but know that you’re forever safe from my criticism), what I’ve been missing most is familiarity and feeling comfortable. Just knowing what’s going on and how things work or being able to walk outside without second guessing – are they talking about me? Is something I’m wearing culturally insensitive? Does that man want to help me because he’s being nice or does he want something else?
It’s been exhausting. Luckily, a month-ish in, I’m starting to feel comfortable. The fact that I love my landpeople and my house, has helped a LOT. Also, learning the incredibly unpredictable bus system has also helped. There are a few days I now know…ish.
While every volunteer has their laundry list of foods they miss; the Illu Babour G17s were talking about foods we miss, and we realized that the underlying theme is variety. (But specifically for me, it’s Penang curry. And sushi. And appropriately salted foods. Also, olive oil. You can find it here in the big cities, but it’s expensive.)
[Abu again! And her puppies. Dogs aren’t well thought of here. Luckily, my land people know her and are ok with her hanging around.]
Final two notes for this incredibly disjointed post: my regional peace corps office is in Jimma. There are fantastic people in Jimma loop.
Secondly, a friend has a blog that gives a really wonderful and thorough accounting of his experiences here. And it’s a hilarious read. Long, but totally worth it. Check out his most recent post here: Colby’s Blog.