This month, we’ve been finalizing Agazh’s website and its social media. We hope to launch the website in a few weeks. The talented Meagan Ducharme re-designed our letterhead logo to make it more suitable for the web. She also designed and coded every page on the website, and directed me to take certain videos and photos for each page. You can get a preview of our upcoming website on her wordpress portfolio.
In order to finalize our “donate” page, I have been trying to understand the incentives for donors. We’ve spoken to the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice Charities and Societies Agency and the CRDA, an umbrella agency for organizations operating in Ethiopia who provide social services, in an attempt to understand the rules and regulations for foreign and domestic donors.
This holiday season, we’ve also continued conducting our study, making visits to the homes of the elderly in Addis Ababa woreda 11. We collected clothing donations from friends and family and brought clothing and food donations as we’ve made our visits.
In our continued effort to collaborate with other organizations, I attended a training for local NGOs organized by the Catholic Church in Addis. I first spoke with w/o Desta Weldeh who is an administrator at the Cathedral school, a private catholic school in the Piazza area of Addis Ababa. The focus of this month’s trainings was reproductive health and family planning. Although she knew that was unrelated to Agazh’s efforts to empower and provide supports to the elderly, she invited me to attend a training to meet programmers from other local NGOs. The topic was rhythm method family planning and variations in women’s ovulation cycle, ironically, the speaker was a man, pictured here.
At this training, I met a woman named Senite from a local organization called Eneredada Elder People Association. We talked about our two organizations and she invited Asru and me to visit Eneredada’s office. We realized there are many opportunities for collaboration between Eneredada and Agazh, as Eneredada does much of the same work in woreda 4 & 5 that Agazh aims to do in woreda 11. Eneredada has an association for the elderly and teaches those who are able to work a skilled trade so that they can produce products, like carpets and baskets. Every few months they hold a bizarre to sell their products to help fund Eneredada’s services, like its food program and laundry services for the elderly. They are backed by their founder, who is an Ethiopian woman living in the UK, and by HelpAge International. They also fundraise by collecting bottles and recyclable materials to sell back to factories.
Daily Life and Sights
The city of Addis Ababa is still developing so construction is ever present. For examples, the African Union, headquartered here, Bole road, a main vein in the most developed part of the city, and Meskel Square, are all under construction. It also appears that much of the construction/development is in collaboration with Chinese companies. One Chinese company, China Railway Group Limited (CREC), is constructing a light rail in Addis Ababa. This is what the light rail construction looks like by Meskel Square. There is also light rail construction in the Bole and Piazza neighborhoods of Addis Ababa.
On December 8th I went to the Salem Music Festival in Ghion Hotel Park. There were vendors selling paintings, hand carved wooden sculptures, clothing, and jewelry, and there was also food and drink. It was really well organized and a lot of fun! My favorite artist was Stewart Sukuma from Mozambique, pictured here. His band’s drumming and dancing were unreal. I highly recommend listening to them. I also got to see the Janinites, who are Ethiopia’s first all-female band! Here’s a picture of me by the stage while they were performing. I must admit I am not the biggest fan of Ethiopian music; it’s much too slow and jazzy for my taste. Indeed, my favorite performers that day were the Mozambican band, and the Swedish-Senegalese duo, Sousou & Maher Cissoko. But I was seriously outnumbered in feeling this way; the crowd went absolutely insane for Mahmoud Ahmed, who is an Ethiopian legend. Everyone, and I mean absolutely everyone, knew all the lyrics to all his songs and everyone did the askista dance while he sang, while I counted down the songs until the next performer would take the stage. Here’s a picture of Mahmoud Ahmed (in traditional clothing) and his saxophonists taking the stage, so you can get an idea of how slow and jazzy his music is.
I’ve continued with my Amharic classes, and am at a second grade reading level! I was even able to write short letters to my parents, brother and sister in Amharic. Three mornings a week for an hour each, my tutor and I go through the exercise book, pictured here. On my days off I have homework, and every few classes I have a quiz on new vocabulary. The first book I read on my own was ሙሽራዋ አይጥ, the mouse bride, pictured here.
Recently, I visited Entoto Mariam, the Ethiopian Orthodox church on the grounds of the old palace of Emperor Menilik and Empress Titu. Here I am in front of the church. Menilik was the Emperor of Ethiopia right before the popular Emperor Haile Selassie (Ras Tefari). Emperor Menilik led the Ethiopian army at the Battle of Adwa, which defeated the Italians when they attempted to colonize Ethiopia the first time, making Ethiopia one of only two African countries considered not colonized, although that is debated. Here is a picture of me in front of Menilik and Titu’s old palace. It was constructed in 1875 (Ethiopian calendar) or 1883 (Western Calendar). Inside the palace there were rooms for hanging meat and honeycombs, you can see the hooks in the back room at the center of the picture of the empty dining room.