Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ethiopia Day 2 - Shashemene

Right now I'm laying under a tee-pee mosquito net, not feeling too much like a princess despite my canopy, basking in the warm dry air of Africa.  Our room smells like deet.  There's malaria in the town of Awassa and all precautions are taken. 

My bed at the hotel in Awassa - loving the shiny sheets and mosquito net.

Today was a full day to say the least.  I slept well last night, the bed at the Guest House was firm and wonderful.  We were up at 4:15am this morning getting ready for departure at 5:00am.  We had five vans full of us, our stuff for the overnight trip, the medicines for two boarding school visits (one to Shashamene and one to Akake), and lots of bottled water. 

Our ride began in the dark but it was lovely watching the sun rise over the city.  It was oddly quiet and empty, the hustle and bustle of Saturday gone.  There were a surprising number of people out jogging, although whether it was for exercise or transportation is unknown.  We saw a group of kids playing soccer in an empty street.  Shortly after we began, our caravan stopped for unknown reasons and I saw a man peeing on the side of the road.  Not an unusual occurrence here, but this man didn't even bother to turn his back to traffic.

On our way out of the capital city of Addis Ababa, we were warned that we would likely be stopped as we approached the city limits.  In order to leave the city, a permit had to be purchased and paperwork is given that must be able to be presented when requested.  Luckily the two times we were stopped we were waived through fairly quickly.  We road through the country for at least two and a half hours before stopping for breakfast.  The houses in the country are different than houses in the city.  Aside from small towns, most houses in the country are round, with mud or something looking like stucco walls, and roofs covered in straw or grass.

Typical country villa.
Small town on the side of the road.  These are more like what a typical house in Addis looks like.
Every section of road has potential as a livestock crossing.

We saw a lot of animal crossings, mostly cows.  I asked Maste, one of the translators, if cows were a sign of wealth and he said not really.  I saw a decomposing horse on the side of the road, not too far from two grazing wild horses - they most likely took no notice of their friend's unfortunate fate.  There were also some detours for road construction, and a ton of amazingly beautiful trees.  We saw a lot of people walking along the side of the road with large containers for water.  Some people carried them themselves on their backs or by their sides, some used a kind of cart pulled by either themselves or a donkey.

Breakfast was awesome.  On the way to Shashemene we stopped at a place called Hotel Beteliheem. 

The menus didn't give any descriptions on the dishes so we all guessed when we ordered.  Beth got a Continental breakfast, which ended up being four pieces of toast with butter and jam, and mango juice.  Samme and Stephanie, our two roommates, got french toast, which looked like deep fried bread.  Pancakes turned out more like crepes and apparently tasted too much like injera for Jake's liking.  I got an Ethiopian omelet.  It was pretty "normal" but the eggs were a little too done for my taste.  It had onion and green pepper inside, but probably other things too I didn't pick up on.

The leaders and drivers sat at their own table and ordered a communal dish of injera, some kind of meat, eggs, and a few other things.  Beth and I went over to try a bite and the guys fed it to us, which is apparently a high honor.  It was very good, albeit a little spicy. 

After breakfast, we drove another 45 minutes to Shashemene to see about 200 boarding school kids and give them medical assessments.  We took vitals like height and weight, blood pressure, age, etc at the triage station, and then the kids were funnelled to one of four doctor's stations.  The final stop was the pharmacy for any medicines they were prescribed.  The kids were really cute and most of them just had minor issues like coughs or stomach upsets.  We gave out lots of ibuprofen and tums, and each kid got a dose of Mabendazole for de-worming.

Some of our supplies
The pharmacy station
We set up in an amphitheatre for the clinic.  Shortly after we got all set up and decided we were ready to go, it was time for lunch.  Here are some of the kids (and Jake) waiting to be called to be seen.

Dr. John checking for lice with Yiesmachew interpreting

Evelyn taking down some basic information in triage
Janet getting some vitals
Most of the day I was responsible for maintaining the waiting line.  At first, I helped unpack items and put them in the appropriate area.  Once the doctors started seeing patients, I spent a little bit of time watching over Sandy and Pat's shoulders but soon felt like I was more in the way than I was helping out.  I know so little about the medical field I couldn't even take notes for the doctors.  I went around to all the stations and asked if anyone needed anything and then spoke with Cherrie about where I could be most useful.  She asked me if I couldn't maintain the area where the kids were waiting to see a doctor but had already been through triage.  It was an interesting place to be in, but hard sometimes to get conversation going with the kids.  Some of them spoke English but some didn't, and you can only get the kids to teach you to count to 10 so many times (I have that mastered, by the way!)

Learning numbers

This girl on the left I talked with for a long time.  She told me she wants to be an artist when she grows up and she asked me if I was happy (the second kid to pose that question to me that day).  I said yes and asked her the same, to which she replied yes.
I did get to work with Beth a bit in the pharmacy and that was fun but overwhelming at times.  We had no lunch break this day, just a little section of time to eat a granola bar or whatever we had on us.  We closed up shop around 5:00pm and headed to an Italian place for dinner.  It had excellent food - pizza, lasagna, gnocchi - and I had my first Ethiopia Coca (p.s. it tastes the same.  Often you'll find it served warm but in most restaurants they give it to you cold).

After dinner we returned to our rooms at the hotel in Awassa and crashed.  We got to sleep in a little compared to how today started and were headed to Akake tomorrow for our second boarding school visit.  Here's a few pictures of our hotel room.

This is the door to the bathroom (the door into the room is on the same wall).  Beth and I found it comical that the t.v. had a plastic bag over it.  We don't know why.  It wasn't plugged in either.

Our bathroom.  We had to put a towel in the window because you could totally peek in from the courtyard if you had wanted to.  Things were clean and we were pleased that we could get hot water too (although I didn't let the tank heat up long enough before I showered and ended up with a cold one)
The courtyard
Protective measures

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