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Africa as an aid worker and traveller

Living in Addis

ETHIOPIA | Wednesday, 19 August 2015 | Views [253]

I have been in Addis now for almost five months and there have been so many challenges and rewards. If I just mention about the living here and not mention my work, these are two of my favourite things about being here. The injera, a type of Ethiopian pancake served with a variety of toppings (delicious) and the constant feeling of being alive. Let me explain a bit more about the latter. From the moment I step foot outside of my door, there is something happening here. From beggars to donkeys to crazy roadusers and mud - Addis explodes my senses and keeps me constantly guessing. I can't drift off in the moment. I have to be assessing my environment, watching the ground in case I fall in a hole, looking up in case something falls from a building site or taking special note of my tread in case I slip on the greasy ground. I feel alive every moment that I am on the streets of Addis. When I cross the street it is frequently frightening as pedestrian crossings are not honoured and it is usually best to cross at the same time as a local. It is often smelly, pushy and frequently absurd - but Addis is not boring.


Now to the things I find a real challenge. There are two areas that are particularly difficult for me to handle. Firstly the water and electricity shortages. We once had no water for eight days and it took us both to the brink of our patience and endurance. The electricity shortages are annoying, but usually I can cope with these a lot better. The second area that I struggle with is child beggars. Normal adult beggars are difficult enough. Usually I have coin to give to the people who line the streets with various medical conditions and sometimes just straighforward poverty. The child beggars are different and they fall into two categories. They are sometimes children who see me as a farengi (foreigner) and simple yell at me "money" or "give me money". These are easily dismissed. Secondly there are small children who are used by their mothers (usually) to stand in front of me with their hand out and say "money". It is clear that there is a need in this situation, but I don't want to encourage people using their children to beg. One of my friends works for an NGO that sees many children who were used by their mothers as child beggars and it creates so many problems into the future. I need to start taking more food out with me so that I can give bread or fruit to people and not just money. It is a very difficult situation.



Tags: addis ababa, aid working, expat

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