Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 10, 2010 – Falling In Love

So I realize that I just wrote you all, but this kind of news just can’t wait to be shared. I’ve fallen in love. Sorry, Jeff, it’s not you. No, my new love is called Asema and she is around 8 years old (I’m guessing). I met her just the other day in my friend Fatuma’s shop. I don’t think she stopped talking from the moment I walked in the door. Our initial conversation (in Amharic) went something like this:
Asema: Where did you come from? Is your country far?
Benny: I come from America and yes it is very far.
Asema: Am I not beautiful?
Benny: No, you are very beautiful!
Asema: I have a brother in America.
Benny: Oh that is nice. How old is your brother?
Asema: 109

We are soon playing beauty salon in the middle of the shop. She starts working with my hair and asks me: “Do you never wash your hair?” At this I am horribly offended and confused because I had actually washed my hair that very morning, after an unfortunate four day lapse due to lack of water. I soon learn that the reason for her accusation was that my hair is brown, not black, and therefore she thought it was just covered in dirt. Soon my hair is finished, complete with a side ponytail and some randomly placed braids. To dress me up she has the brilliant idea to just pull my shirt down to look like a mini dress. Of course my shin length skirt underneath kind of threw off the illusion. However, she still drags me over to the photo shop next door where they have a full length mirror so we can admire her work. Others are admiring as well.

Soon we are out to lunch, the three of us: Benny, Asema, and Fatuma. As we feast at this lovely restaurant over our “asa wat” or spicy stewed fish with enjera, Fatuma gets a phone call from her friend. Now Asema is the daughter of another of Fatuma’s friends, who needed a little break from her daughter for the day. I can’t understand why. But this friend who calls is also a friend of Asema’s mother so Fatuma gives Asema the phone. Now I do not hear one side of the conversation but from Asuma’s response, I assume the woman asked “Where are you?” To this, my darling Asema replies: “I’m in a beer house. Don’t tell my mother.”

I think you all may understand why I have become completely enraptured by this child. She has “Mohan” written all over her.

Ok that’s all for now. I want to take a moment to wish my Poppa Pat a happy birthday. I love and miss you very much and think about you always.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Sorry that the finance pages don't line up - can't seem to fix.

Peace Corps VAST Grant Program

Project Proposal
Dilla Town Waste Collection and Disposal IGA for
Orphans and Vulnerable Children

March 2010 – September 2010

Submitted by: Bonnie Mohan
United States Peace Corps Volunteer
Dilla, Ethiopia

Proposal Outline

I. List of Acronyms
II. Project Summary
A. Introduction
B. Background Information
III. Project Proposal
A. Description
1. Goals and Objectives
2. Building Skills and Capacity
3. Sustainability
4. Primary Assignment
B. Project Costs
C. Monitoring and Evaluation
1. M&E of IGA
2. M&E of Trash Collection and Disposal Service
D. Individuals Reached
IV. Pictures
V. Appendices
A. Training Outline/Pre- and Post- Training Tests
1. Health/HIV Training
2. Money Management Training
B. Phases
C. Timeline
D. People Involved
E. List of Beneficiaries
F. Forms
1. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the six stakeholders
2. Project Manager Job Description
3. Monthly/Quarterly Financial and Physical Reports
4. Liability Form

I. List of Acronyms

HAPCO – HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office
IGA – Income Generating Activity
M&E – Monitoring and Evaluation
NGO – Non-governmental Organization
OTI – Office of Trade and Industry
OVC – Orphans and Vulnerable Children
SP – Samaritan’s Purse

II. Project Summary

A. Introduction

This project will address two very serious problems present in Dilla: poor sanitation and the high number of OVC living in the town. Dilla is a large town that is growing beyond its means and the sanitation of the town is suffering for it. This project will address the sanitation problems in the town by providing a comprehensive solid waste collection and disposal service for hotels and homes throughout the town. This service will be provided for a nominal monthly fee and the profits will be used as an IGA for an association of OVC, by providing paid employment.

This waste collection and disposal project is based upon the system used in Hawassa, which has been operating as a private business, in cooperation with the Hawassa Municipality, for more than eight years. The service has been awarded by the Ministry of Urban Development three times for its contribution to the health and sanitation of the rapidly growing city of Hawassa. The participating stakeholders of this project believe that Dilla can have equal success, with the additional contribution of helping OVC in the town.

B. Background Information

Dilla is a large, cash-crop town located in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region of Ethiopia. Dilla is located on the main road to Kenya, 375km south of the national capital, Addis Ababa, and 90km south of regional capital, Hawassa. The current population of Dilla is roughly 88,000, with an estimated yearly growth rate of 2.9%. As the capital of Gedeo Zone, Dilla has a high daily influx of people from surrounding areas to utilize the market, hotels/bars, banks, and the zonal hospital. This constant stream of additional people into the town exacerbates the existing pressure on the town to accommodate such a large and quickly growing population.

One of the major repercussions of this rapid population growth has been the deteriorating state of sanitation in the town. The Dilla Town Sanitation Department has recently begun collecting and disposing of waste in the town, but does not have the resources or capacity to adequately cover the entire town. For the majority of residents whose waste is not being collected, burning waste in the streets or simply dumping waste into the drainage ditches along the sides of roads is their only recourse. This is considered by community members to be the proper method of waste disposal and health concerns are not regarded. However, these practices present serious health risks to the community. The burning of materials like plastic creates unpleasant and toxic fumes that pollute the air and contribute to respiratory complications. Additionally, the build-up of waste in drainage ditches blocks the flow of rainwater, resulting in stagnant water that attracts malaria-infected mosquitoes. When heavy rains do come, this waste is flushed into the river, where people in the rural areas of town bathe and collect their drinking water. Some of the most common disease treated at the town health center that can be directly associated with the poor sanitation of the town are malaria, upper respiratory tract infections, and typhoid.

Dilla is in need of an organized service in the town to collect dry waste from hotels and homes, as well as widespread community mobilization and education to highlight the importance of proper waste disposal. This project will provide that service, combining the efforts of several stakeholders in the town. These stakeholders include the Town Sanitation Department, Dilla Health Center, the Office of Industry and Trade, the Microfinance Office, Samaritan’s Purse, and Town HAPCO. They will provide technical support and oversee the general operation of the project in the form of a Steering Committee.

One goal we have for the future of this project is to begin separating waste at the disposal site and composting organic materials. This compost can be sold as fertilizer for additional profit. While we would like to provide this service immediately, we believe it is more important to have a strong and stable collection and disposal service in place first. In time, when the project is running self-sufficiently and increasing its profits, we will expand towards composting to make further contribution to environmental sustainability.

The second aspect of this project will be an IGA for children between 14 and 17 years of age, who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The growing number of children living on the streets, particularly orphans, is a serious problem for Dilla. There are currently over 5,000 street children, orphans, and vulnerable children living in the town. Hotels and families will pay a small monthly fee for the waste collection service and the profits will be used to provide income for a group of these children. This project will benefit these children by providing paid part-time employment for them. The beneficiaries will be educated about the importance of saving and will be given the opportunity to keep a portion of their income with the Microfinance Office, who has generously offered to provide a monthly interest of 4% for the OVC. The beneficiaries will also receive some basic business training, should they consider using their income to start a small business of their own. This income, and the training they will receive, will help them support themselves and live healthy lives.

III. Project Proposal

A. Description

1.) Goals and Objectives

Goal 1: To improve the poor state of sanitation in Dilla Town
• Educate and mobilize community members about the health risks associated with the poor sanitation in the town and provide HIV education, through a series of community sanitation campaigns
• Provide a regular solid waste collection service for the town’s hotels/bars and homes to eliminate the accumulation/burning of waste in public areas
• Dispose of the town’s waste at a disposal site located outside of the town
Priority: This Goal addresses the Municipality’s priority to maintain the sanitation of the town and the health of its residents.

Goal 2: To generate income for an association of OVC
• Identify and train 20 OVC on health/HIV and money management
• Involve these OVC in educating their respective communities about health, HIV, and sanitation through the community sanitation campaigns
• Provide income for these OVC as part-time workers for the waste collection service
Priority: This Goal addresses the priority of Dilla HAPCO and the NGO, Samaritan’s Purse, to provide care and support for OVC in Dilla.

2.) Building Skills and Capacity

The most important requirement for this project to be successful and sustainable is for the members of the community to understand the health risks associated with improper waste disposal. Therefore, extensive community mobilization and education will be a central part of this project. SP has an “OVC Support Team” in each of the 8 kebeles in Dilla, which consists of representatives from the kebele association, women’s association, Community-Based Volunteer Teams, youth clubs, religious leaders, and two older OVC. These OVC Support Teams will help to mobilize the people in their respective kebeles. The Municipality has also agreed to use its relationship with local leaders to promote the project and sanitation campaigns. The respect and influence of these leaders in their respective communities will be instrumental in gaining the trust and participation of town residents.

To promote the project and create awareness, the Municipality and these community leaders will help organize sanitation campaigns in key parts of town where sanitation is particularly poor. These sanitation campaigns will mobilize community members to participate in the clean-up process and their direct participation in cleaning up their community will give them a personal stake in and concern for the health of their town. The campaigns will also provide an opportunity to educate community members about the importance of proper waste disposal as well as to provide HIV education. As a direct result of these campaigns, community members will understand more about their own health and how to keep themselves and their families healthy. Knowing the consequences of poor sanitation will lead to behavior change. The Municipality and SP have volunteered to provide any labor and materials needed for these community sanitation campaigns.

Another aspect of the community mobilization effort, specifically to get youth involved, will be decorating the donkey carts. VAST grant funds will purchase paints and brushes and the Anti-HIV/AIDS clubs of Dilla town schools will decorate the carts with pictures and messages about health and HIV. This will not only engage the members of the Anti-HIV/AIDS clubs (and other students at each school) but will also send a message to the entire town when the carts are traveling around collecting waste. The carts themselves will both promote the project and promote awareness about HIV and other health concerns for community members.

3. Sustainability

The sustainability of the project is of utmost importance to the community. The key to sustainability will be the Steering Committee, which will oversee the entire project and provide technical assistance as needed. The Steering Committee will be made up of important stakeholders in the town, all of whom are committed to the success and sustainability of the project. These stakeholders are: the Dilla Town Sanitation Department, The Office of Trade and Industry, the Microfinance Office, the Dilla Health Center, Samaritan’s Purse, and Dilla Town HAPCO. Each stakeholder will serve an essential role in the operation of the project. The Steering Committee, with a representative from each stakeholder, will meet monthly during the first six months to perform monitoring and evaluation, identify and discuss any challenges, and make sure that the project is operating according to plan. After the first six months, they will meet quarterly. This Steering Committee, because of its inclusion of several local stakeholders, will ensure that the project is sustainable.

Regarding the financial stability and sustainability of the project, again the Steering Committee will be of paramount importance. As part of the VAST grant fund request, we included the first three months of salary for the project’s workers while the project is getting started. We expect that after three months, the project will be earning enough money from home and hotel fees to take over paying its expenses. The Municipality is currently providing this service and has a small customer base (particularly with hotels), which will be instrumental at the start of the project while we are still building our customer base. However, it is difficult to know for certain how profitable the project will be from the start, so we will create a contingency plan. In the event that the project is not earning sufficient income to cover its expenses, after the VAST funds have expired, the members of the Steering Committee will provide support for the project in way of small loans. Members of the SC may lend the amount needed to pay for the month’s expenses, on the condition that the loan is repaid once the project is making greater income. This contingency will protect the project in its beginning so that it has the opportunity to grow. It will also protect the OVC beneficiaries so that they can have security and stability in their employment.

4. Primary Assignment

This project relates to my primary assignment in that it supports Goal 3, Objectives 3.2 and 3.4, of the Peace Corps Ethiopia HIV/Health Project Framework.

Objective 3.2: By 2013, 160 PCVs and their counterparts will design, improve, implement, and evaluate HIV-related prevention activities, with the result that 16,000 individuals will be linked to or receive prevention services related to other behavior change beyond abstinence and/or being faithful.
Through the community mobilization portion of the project, community members throughout the town will be educated about HIV and other health risks and will be linked to prevention services.

Objective 3.4: By 2013, 50 PCVs and their counterparts will design, improve, implement, and evaluate HIV-related OVC activities, with the result that 2500 OVC will be linked to or receive prevention, care and support services.
The profits from the waste collection service will provide care and support for an association of OVC in order to improve their quality of life. The OVC will also be trained about health and HIV and linked to prevention services.

B. Project Costs:

Category VAST Funds
(ETB) VAST Funds
(USD) Community Contribution TOTAL
Cash In-kind Total (USD)
Labor ETB 15,300.00 $1,148.65 ETB 4,800.00 $360.36 ETB 20,100.00 $1,509.01
Project Manager
(1000ETB/mo x 3 mo) ETB 3,000.00 $225.23 ETB 3,000.00 $225.23
Cash Collectors
(3 x 300ETB/mo x 3 mo) ETB 2,700.00 $202.70 ETB 2,700.00 $202.70
OVC Workers
(20 x 160ETB/mo x 3 mo) ETB 9,600.00 $720.72 ETB 9,600.00 $720.72
Truck Driver
(800ETB/mo X 6 mo) ETB 4,800.00 $360.36
Equipment ETB 40,000.00 $3,003.00 ETB 57,000.00 $4,279.28 ETB 58,000.00 $4,354.35
Donkey Carts
(10 x 2400ETB/cart) ETB 24,000.00 $1,801.80 ETB 24,000.00 $1,801.80
(10 x 1600ETB/donkey) ETB 16,000.00 $1,201.20 ETB 16,000.00 $1,201.20
Mercedes Truck
(6500ETB/mo x 6 mo) ETB 39,000.00 $2,927.93 ETB 39,000.00 $2,927.93
Truck Fuel
(300L/mo x 10ETB/L
x 6 mo) ETB 18,000.00 $1,351.35 ETB 18,000.00 $1,351.35
Materials/Supplies ETB 7,000.00 $525.53 $0.00 ETB 7,000.00 $525.53
Garbage bags
(1000 x 5ETB) ETB 5,000.00 $375.38 ETB 5,000.00 $375.38
Paint/brushes ETB 2,000.00 $150.15 ETB 2,000.00 $150.15
Venue Rental --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Travel/Per diem --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Transportation of materials --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Other ETB 6,280.00 $471.47 ETB 6,280.00 $471.47
OVC Trainings
(4 days: trainer, venue, materials, food/drink) ETB 6,280.00 $471.47 ETB 6,280.00 $471.47
Total ETB 62,300.00 $4,677.18 ETB 0.00 ETB 68,080.00 $5,111.11 ETB 130,380.00 $9,788.29

*The Rate of Exchange from ETB to USD is converted at 13.32%, based on the rate today, February 11, 2010.

@13.32% %
Vast Grant Funds 62,300.00 4,677.18 0.48
Community Contribution 68,080.00 5,111.11 0.52
Total Project Cost 130,380.00 9,788.29 1.00

There has been a great deal of support and enthusiasm surrounding this project, as is evident from the very considerable community contribution. The 52% community contribution far exceeds the 25% minimum requirement.

C. Monitoring and Evaluation

1. IGA for OVC
Samaritan’s Purse will be responsible for M&E for the trainings they provide for the IGA beneficiaries. The trainer will conduct a pre- and post- training text to gauge how well the beneficiaries have absorbed the material. Copies of these tests are included in Appendix V.A.
SP social workers will also conduct monthly visits to the OVC beneficiaries’ homes to assess how the project is impacting their lives and determine any further needs they may have. The findings will be shared with the stakeholders at Steering Committee meetings.

2. Waste Collection and Disposal Service
Monitoring and Evaluation will be essential for the long-term success and sustainability of this project. The Steering Committee will be responsible for M&E for the entire project, but the Sanitation Department and Samaritan’s Purse will be involved in additional M&E. Ato Tamerat from the Sanitation Department will conduct monthly assessments of the town to determine how the project is affecting the sanitation condition and, as stated previously, SP will provide M&E for the OVC beneficiaries.

During the first six months of the project, the Steering Committee will meet with the Project Manager once per month. The Project Manager will be responsible for completing a monthly report (both a financial and physical report), which will be reviewed by the Steering Committee at the monthly meetings. The Sanitation Department will also monitor the overall sanitation condition in the town to determine if the service is improving the situation and will present its findings at Steering Committee meetings. After the first six months, once the project has stabilized and is operating off its own income, the Steering Committee will meet only quarterly. A copy of the Monthly/Quarterly Report is located in Appendix V.F.2.

D. Individuals Reached

We understand that this project will take time to grow and catch on in the community, despite best efforts to mobilize community members. For this reason, we are beginning with a lower number of beneficiaries to ensure that the project will be able to provide them with sufficient employment, and thus income, to make a real impact in their lives. We expect that over time, the number of customers will increase, generating greater profits. As the project expands, we will be able to involve more OVC beneficiaries. SP has agreed to continue to provide training to any new beneficiaries as the project grows. For the meantime, any additional profits remaining after regular project expenses are paid, will be retained in the Microfinance Office should any unexpected costs (cart repairs, medical attention for donkeys, etc.) occur.

Number of individuals reached/trained by this project:
Youth Boys 14-17: 8
Youth Girls 14-17: 12

IV. Pictures

Appendix V.A

Training Outlines

Health/HIV Training
Trainer: Sister Martha Geribo, Samaritan’s Purse

Objective of the Training:
• After the training, the participant will decide to apply practically environmental sanitation by themselves and collaborating with the community
• Participants will identify the cases of communicable diseases
• The participants will know the basic prevention methods of the communicable diseases
Pre-Training Test
Environmental Sanitation:
What is the meaning of environmental sanitation?
What are the factors that can spoil our environment?
How can we keep our environment clean?
Is there illness that we can prevent by keeping our environment clean?
• Malaria: Group Work 1: What is our responsibility to prevent malaria outbreak?
Diseases that can occur due to intestinal helmentisis:
• Diarrhea
 Mode of transmission
 Methods of prevention
 Group Work 2: What are the measures that prevent diarrhea?
• Trachoma
 Mode of transmission
 Group Work 3: How can we prevent trachoma?
• Tuberculosis
 Mode of transmission
 Methods of prevention
 Group Work 4: What measure have we taken to prevent TB?
Personal Hygiene:
• What is the meaning of personal hygiene?
• The benefits of personal hygiene?
• The consequences of personal hygiene?
• Factors that make is difficult to keep our personal hygiene?
• Group Work 5: What are the solutions to solve these problems?
• Group Work 6: What will be your plan to keep your personal hygiene and to make your environment clean in the year 2010? Make your Action Plan.
What does HIV/AIDS stand for?
Modes of Transmission:
Methods of Prevention
Signs and Symptoms of the Illness
• Opportunistic Infections
• Prevention of Opportunistic Infections
TB and HIV
Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT)
Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART)
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and HIV
HIV, Environmental Sanitation, and Personal Hygiene: how they are related
Post-Training Test
Money Management/Basic Business Skills Training
Trainer: Ato Johannes Adamu, Samaritan’s Purse

Day 1: (8:30am – 5:30pm)
Registration and material distribution
Participant introductions and expectations of the training
Aim of the training
Introduction to the livelihood program
Tea Break
Entrepreneurship/Personal entrepreneurship skills:
(Endurance, risk management, effectiveness and efficiency, time management, respecting promises and serving clients, information management, group IGA and friendship)
Tea Break

Day 2: (8:30am – 5:30pm)
Reflection (core revision)
Setting goals/Self-confidence
Preparation of business plan (10 parts of a business plan)
Tea Break
Marketing plan, legal business entity formation methods, price determination and analyzing costs
Search good business ideas/Methods of idea explanation
Tea Break
Financial Planning: making a budget, prioritizing expenditures (needs from wants), settings goals and how to save.

Appendix V.B

After the grant is approved but before the grant money is received, we will begin some activities that are being contributed by the community and thus do not require VAST grant funds. These activities include the training of the OVC (provided by SP) and the community sanitation campaigns. Once the funds are received, we will begin purchasing the materials needed to begin the project.

PHASE I*: Preparation/Implementation of Trainings (1 week)
1. Samaritan’s Purse will plan the logistics of the trainings
a. Location
b. Date and time (not to interfere with school schedules)
c. Shay/bunna and possible per diem(?)
2. Health/HIV Training
a. Provided by SP
b. Two full-days training
c. Pre- and post- tests to determine the success of the training
3. Money Management Training
a. Provided by SP, with possible collaboration with OTI
b. Two full-days training

PHASE II*: Community Sanitation Campaigns (1 month)
1. Engage community leaders
a. SP will communicate with their “OVC Support Teams”
b. Municipality will engage kebele leaders and other local community leaders
2. Identify key locations in each kifle ketema to hold campaigns
a. Will be done by the Sanitation Department and the PCV
b. Get approval from any necessary government leaders
3. Hold the community sanitation campaigns (three total)
a. Schedule dates and times of the campaigns
b. Local leaders will help mobilize their respective community members to come out for the event
c. Municipality and SP will help provide materials
d. Representative from the Health Center will provide health, sanitation, and HIV education to community members
e. OVC beneficiaries will help to register customers interested in the service
4. Communicate with hotels to negotiate monthly service fee

PHASE III: Purchase of Project Materials (1-2 weeks)
1. Order and purchase donkeys (to be transported from Shashemane)
2. Purchase carts
3. Purchase bags to be given to customers for collecting their waste
4. Purchase paints/brushes and any other miscellaneous items

PHASE IV: Implementation of Waste Collection/Disposal Service (6 months)
1. Painting of donkey carts by school Anti-HIV/AIDS clubs
2. Distribute garbage bags to customers who registered at the sanitation campaigns
3. Begin collection at homes and hotels in the town
4. Continue promoting the service, especially encouraging word-of-mouth promotion by initial customers

PHASE V: Monitoring and Evaluation (6 months)
1. Completion of monthly reports by Project Manager
2. Monthly meetings of the Steering Committee during the first six months of operation
3. Quarterly meetings after first six months

*To be initiated before VAST grant funds are received

Appendix V.C

Project Timeline

Appendix V.D

People Involved

Ato Girma Ebren: Head of Dilla Town HAPCO and PCV’s Counterpart
Bachelor of Science in Biology
Dilla University
• Co-author of grant proposal
• Will represent Dilla Town HAPCO on the Steering Committee

Ato Tamerat Bayene: Head of Dilla Town Sanitation Department
Bachelor of Arts in Economics
Bahir Dar University
• Co-author of grant proposal
• Will represent the Dilla Town Municipality on the Steering Committee
• Will help organize Sanitation Campaigns
• Will provide M&E for the project’s impact on the sanitation of the town

Ato Pawlos W/Giorgis: Head of Dilla Health Center
Bachelor of Science in Public Health
Hawassa University
• Will provide health/HIV education to community members during sanitation campaigns
• Will represent the Dilla Health Center on the Steering Committee

Ato Berhanu Mengesha: Head of Office of Trade and Industry/Vice Mayor
Bachelor of Arts in Geography
Dilla University
• Will represent the OTI on the Steering Committee
• Will collaborate with SP for money management training

Ato Mesfin Alemayehu Sub-Branch Manager, Microfinance Office
• Will represent the Microfinance Office on the Steering Committee
• Will receive money from the Project Manager to pay project employees
• Will, at the request of the OVC, retain funds on behalf of the OVC at a monthly interest rate of 4%.

Ato Abebe Ayele: OVC Manager of Samaritan’s Purse
Master of Arts in Regional and Local Development Studies
Addis Ababa University
• Will select the OVC beneficiaries based on the agreed upon selection criteria
• Will represent Samaritan’s Purse on the Steering Committee
• Will help organize sanitation campaigns
• Will provide supervision of OVC beneficiaries

Sister Martha Geribo: Nurse/Trainer for Samaritan’s Purse
Bachelor of Science in Rural and Family Development Science
Hawassa University
• Will give Health/HIV training for OVC beneficiaries
• Will conduct M&E for the training

Ato Johannes Adamu: Trainer for Samaritan’s Purse
Bachelor of Arts in Economics
Hawassa University
• Will give Money Management training for OVC beneficiaries
• Will conduct M&E for the training

W/t Bonnie Mohan: United States Peace Corps Volunteer
Dilla, Ethiopia
• Co-author of grant proposal
• Will assist with the OVC trainings
• Will help organize sanitation campaigns
• Will participate in purchasing of project materials
• Will assist the Steering Committee in supervision and M&E for the first six months of the project

Appendix V.E

List of Beneficiaries

We are currently in the process of selecting OVC to be beneficiaries of this project, which should be completed within two weeks. The criteria for selecting the OVC beneficiaries were defined by SP and Dilla HAPCO. The criteria/priorities are as follows:
• Ages 14-17
• At least 50% female
• Orphaned by HIV/AIDS (double or single orphans with special priority for those orphans that have lost their mothers)
• Priority given to child-headed households (CHH), especially female-headed households
• Should be enrolled in school (either day or night school)
• Residents from the two kifle ketemas in which they will be working (Sesa or Haro Welago)

Age Kifle Ketema
(Sesa or Haro Welago) Orphan Status
Maternal Paternal CHH Double
1 Fikrte Teka F 16 Sesa X
2 Rahel Kebede F 16 Sesa X
3 Tadelech Hizeqal F 16 Sesa X
4 Mihert Zeleke F 15 Sesa X
5 Mandefiro Tsegaye M 16 Sesa X
6 Fishun Tesfaye M 15 Sesa X
7 Degenesh Temesgen F 16 Sesa X
8 Betelhem Getenet F 15 Sesa X
9 Miseraf Shome F 15 Sesa X
10 Mesikeram Uyara F 15 Sesa X
11 Tigist Kifilu F 15 Haro Welago X
12 Ginit Mulatu F 15 Haro Welago X
13 Girma Alemu M 16 Haro Welago X
14 Sinait Shashigu F 15 Haro Welago X
15 Gesese Tilahun M 14 Haro Welago X
16 Muluken Worku M 16 Haro Welago X
17 Yemisrach Aklilu F 14 Haro Welago X
18 TBD Haro Welago
19 TBD Haro Welago
20 TBD Haro Welago

Appendix V.F.1

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
Between Stakeholders of the Project Steering Committee
For the Dilla Town Waste Collection and Disposal IGA for OVC

This Memorandum of Understanding/agreement has been made and entered into on this date February 10, 2010 by and between the members of the Project Steering Committee, Dilla Town HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office, here in after called Dilla Town HAPCO; Dilla Town Municipality - Sanitation Department; Dilla Town Health Center; Dilla Town Office of Trade and Industry, here in after called OTI; Dilla Town Microfinance Office; and the international NGO, Samaritan’s Purse, here in after called SP, showing that an agreement has been reached between the parties regarding the implementation of the Dilla Town Waste Collection and Disposal IGA for OVC as per the articles stated below.

ARTICLE 1: Responsibilities of the Steering Committee

The Steering Committee composes representatives of stakeholders drawn from the Dilla Town HAPCO, Municipality, Health Center, Office of Trade and Industry, Microfinance Office, and international NGO, Samaritan’s Purse. The Steering Committee shall elect a Committee Chairperson and Secretary at its first meeting. The Steering Committee shall have the following roles and responsibilities:

1.1. Shall ensure that the whole implementation of the project is in accordance with the technical proposal and schedule.
1.2. Shall provide appropriate suggestions, advice, and direction on better implementation of the project.
1.3. Shall facilitate proper implementation of the project activities through members of the SC.
1.4. Shall meet once per month for the first six months of the project and thereafter shall meet quarterly.
1.5. Shall monitor and evaluate the project implementation based on agreed schedule.

ARTICLE 2: Implementation Details

Members of the Steering Committee shall have the following responsibilities.

2.1. Dilla Town HAPCO
2.1.1. Work closely with the other stakeholder members of the Steering Committee (Municipality, Health Center, OTI, Microfinance, and SP) and with concerned offices and individuals.
2.1.2. Shall send a representative to every Steering Committee meeting, who will serve as the Chair of the Committee.
2.1.3. Shall participate in the review of monthly/quarterly/annual physical and financial reports, to be prepared by the Project Manager.
2.1.4. Shall participate in monitoring and evaluation of the project in conjunction with the SC.

2.2. Dilla Town Municipality - Sanitation Department
2.2.1 Work closely with the other stakeholder members of the Steering Committee (Town HAPCO, Health Center, OTI, Microfinance, and SP) and with concerned offices and individuals.
2.2.2. Shall help to organize three community sanitation campaigns and provide needed materials (shovels, rakes, donkey carts, etc)
2.2.3. Shall donate the use of their Mercedes truck (including driver and cost of fuel) to transport waste from local transfer stations to the permanent disposal site.
2.2.4. Shall send a representative to every Steering Committee meeting, who will serve as the Secretary for the Committee.
2.2.5. Shall participate in the review of monthly/quarterly/annual physical and financial reports, to be prepared by the Project Manager.
2.2.6. Shall participate in monitoring and evaluation of the project in conjunction with the SC.
2.2.7. Shall especially monitor the condition/improvement of sanitation in the town.

2.3. Dilla Town Health Center
2.3.1. Work closely with the other stakeholder members of the Steering Committee (Town HAPCO, Municipality, OTI, Microfinance, and SP) and with concerned offices and individuals.
2.3.2. Shall provide health/sanitation and HIV education at the three community sanitation campaigns.
2.3.3. Shall make prevention, care, and support services available to community residents
2.3.4. Shall send a representative to every Steering Committee meeting.
2.3.5. Shall participate in the review of monthly/quarterly/annual physical and financial reports, to be prepared by the Project Manager.
2.3.6. Shall participate in monitoring and evaluation of the project in conjunction with the SC

2.4. Office of Trade and Industry
2.4.1. Work closely with the other stakeholder members of the Steering Committee (Town HAPCO, Municipality, Health Center, Microfinance, and SP) and with concerned offices and individuals.
2.4.2. Shall collaborate with SP for providing the Money Management training to the OVC.
2.4.3. Shall send a representative to every Steering Committee meeting.
2.4.4. Shall participate in the review of monthly/quarterly/annual physical and financial reports, to be prepared by the Project Manager.
2.4.5. Shall participate in monitoring and evaluation of the project in conjunction with the SC.

2.5. Microfinance Office
2.5.1. Work closely with the other stakeholder members of the Steering Committee (Town HAPCO, Municipality, Health Center, OTI, and SP) and with concerned offices and individuals.
2.5.2. Shall receive funds from the Project Manager to be paid to the project employees.
2.5.3. Shall, at the request of the OVC, retain funds on behalf of the OVC with a monthly interest rate of 8%.
2.5.4. Shall send a representative to every Steering Committee meeting.
2.5.5. Shall participate in the review of monthly/quarterly/annual physical and financial reports, to be prepared by the Project Manager.
2.5.6. Shall participate in monitoring and evaluation of the project in conjunction with the SC.

2.6. Samaritan’s Purse
2.6.1. Work closely with the other stakeholder members of the Steering Committee (Town HAPCO, Municipality, Health Center, OTI, and Microfinance) and with concerned offices and individuals.
2.6.2. Shall select twenty (20) OVC beneficiaries based upon the agree selection criteria/priorities.
2.6.3. Shall provide Health/HIV and Money Management training for the OVC and M&E of the trainings.
2.6.4. Shall assist in organizing the three community sanitation campaigns and provide needed materials.
2.6.5. Shall provide supervision of the OVC beneficiaries.
2.6.6. Shall send a representative to every Steering Committee meeting.
2.6.7. Shall participate in the review of monthly/quarterly/annual physical and financial reports, to be prepared by the Project Manager.
2.6.8. Shall participate in monitoring and evaluation of the project in conjunction with the SC.
2.6.9. Shall conduct monthly follow-up assessments with OVC beneficiaries to assess how their participation in the project has impacted their lives.

ARTICLE 3: Termination of Contract

3.1. If a stakeholder chooses to terminate this contract, that stakeholder must apply for permission from the Steering Committee before one month.
3.2. In the event that the designated representative for the Steering Committee is no longer able to fulfill this role, he/she is responsible for identifying a replacement to be the new Steering Committee member.

This Agreement shall be effective as of today, February 10, 2010.

Signed on behalf of Dilla Town HAPCO

Name: Position:

Signature: Date:

Signed on behalf of Dilla Municipality

Name: Position:

Signature: Date:

Signed on behalf of Dilla Health Center

Name: Position:

Signature: Date:

Signed on behalf of the Office of Trade and Industry

Name: Position:

Signature: Date:

Signed on behalf of the Microfinance Office

Name: Position:

Signature: Date:

Signed on behalf of Samaritan’s Purse

Name: Position:

Signature: Date:
Appendix V.F.2.

Project Manager Job Description

Educational Requirements:
• Minimum of Grade 10 plus 3 years of college completed
• Preferred Fields of Study: Management, Accounting, or Economics

Job Responsibilities:
• Promote the project through community mobilization and sanitation campaigns
• Maintain records of customers and attempt to continuously increase the number
• Have direct contact with customers and OVC workers
• Receive any complaints and address any problems customers may have
• Submit all worker salaries to the Microfinance Office for distribution to workers
• Maintain detailed financial records of project costs and income
• Complete the Monthly/Quarterly Report for Steering Committee meetings
• Communicate with stakeholders to organize the Steering Committee meetings
• Conduct M&E in conjunction with the Steering Committee
• Collaborate especially with the Sanitation Department and Samaritan’s Purse
• Link the OVC beneficiaries with other programs (e.g. food support, health care, additional training) through contact with NGOs and experienced organizations working in the town

Starting Salary:
1000 ETB per month

Appendix V.F.3

Dilla Town Waste Collection and Disposal Project
Financial Report

Number of Homes Registered:
Monthly Income from Homes:

Number of Hotels Registered:
Monthly Income from Hotels:

Monthly expenses:
Labor –
Donkey Maintenance –
Equipment Maintenance –
Other –

Monthly Profits (Income – Expenses):

Goals for Next Period
Number of Homes to Add:
Number of Hotels to Add:

Physical Report

Are there enough workers? If no, how many should be added?

Are the OVC workers giving the proper amount of time agreed upon?

Are there any problems with any of the workers?

How is the community responding to the project? Are they supportive?

What is the condition of sanitation in the town? Is it improving?

How can the project be improved?

What is working well?

Appendix V.F.4

Liability Form

I, _______________________, understand that I am liable for the purchase and transportation of:


from to Dilla Town. I will guarantee careful handling of the money in the amount of ___________birr allotted for these purchases. I will purchase all items required, get receipts for each transaction and return any extra money. I will do everything in my ability to make sure that the equipment and materials arrive in perfect condition.

I understand that I am responsible for any materials lost, stolen or damaged due to negligence while under my control. If this is the case, I agree to the replacement of identical materials. Once the materials have been delivered into the care of Ato Tamerat at the Municipality, I am no longer responsible for their condition.

¬¬__________________________ __________________________
Name (print) Ato Tamerat Bayene

__________________________ __________________________
Signature PCV Signature


March 7, 2010 – Success!

Hello again, my dears! I realize it’s been another long hiatus but with good reason this time – I really have been busy! I’ll get to that later. First, birthdays!

Jeff/Minister/The Master!! (February 9th)
Little (probably not so) Pat!! (March 5th)

I love you guys, hope you had wonderful birthdays! Also, Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone and a pre-emptive Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

Ok, so now that that’s done with, I can continue with my tales of being busy. Despite the many quality hours spent with jigsaw puzzles, books, and Sudoku, I have been quite busy lately. I wrote a grant proposal for my trash collection project and it has just been approved! I will also post my grant proposal for those that have any interest in the nitty gritty details but for those that don’t love me as much I will provide a brief summary. I have been approved for $4,677.18 (62,300.00 Ethiopian Birr) to provide a comprehensive solid waste collection and disposal service for the town of Dilla that will also generate income for a group of twenty orphans. These funds will be used to purchase 10 donkeys, 10 wooden carts, painting supplies to decorate the carts, and three months’ salaries for the project workers. The workers will be teenage orphans (most are 15 or 16) who will work part-time around their school schedules collecting trash from homes and hotels in the town. The homes and hotels will have to pay a small fee each month that will be used to pay our workers, take care of the donkeys, etc. We will also be holding three community sanitation campaigns in key areas of town to get people out cleaning up their own neighborhoods and to provide education about the importance of good sanitation and hygiene. We will also give some HIV education. We hope this will get people motivated and concerned with the sanitation of their communities so that they take part in the project.

We will also be involving all the Anti-AIDS clubs at the local schools to paint the donkey carts with messages and pictures about HIV and general health. I am really excited for this part because, as you all know, I love arts and crafts but I also think it will also be a great way to promote the project and provide a constant positive message throughout the town. As for the orphans, many have lost both parents and are supporting younger brothers and sisters, so this will be a great opportunity for them to earn some consistent income. We have also formed a Steering Committee of local government officials from various offices that will oversee the project and provide any technical support needed. I am hoping that with this Committee, my role in the project will phase out after the first few months. I really want this to continue long after I have left.

So that pretty much sums it up. I am so excited and proud that it is really happening. This is something that I have thought about doing since I first got here and now it’s becoming a reality. Of course, nothing has actually started yet but I have high (but hopefully realistic) hopes. If you can all send me positive thoughts and vibes, that would be great! 

My last bit of great news is that I will be going to Brussels in just three weeks!! This was a last minute trip to visit my best friend, Chelsea, because it’s oddly the only place we can both afford to travel to. I am so excited to see and even more to have a little break from Ethiopia. I think I need it so I can return rested and ready to dive into my project.

I’ll keep this one short to reward you all for trucking through the novel that was my last entry. I just wanted to share my good news. Thank you so much for all your support and encouragement – it means the world to me. Lots of love from Ethiopia and I wish you a very happy and SAFE St. Patrick’s Day. To my uncles, I hope you can find a replacement getaway driver this year ;) Can’t wait to be celebrating the holiday with you NEXT YEAR!!! I love you!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The 3-Month Drought Has Ended - I'm Back

January 10, 2010 – Ethiopia gets an extra dose of Mohan/Fewel!

Yikes! I realize that I have completely dropped the ball on this blog and for the painstaking three months that I left you with no word (except through my mom, how embarrassing) of my well-being and goings on, I sincerely apologize. The more time that went by, the harder it was to sit down and write. Unfortunately, I can’t play the “I was so busy” card since I think you will all see through that, so I’ll just say I’m sorry. So I must first begin, with further embarrassment, by updating my birthday/holiday wishes.

Laura!! (September 28) I am sooooo sorry I did not include you last time, Kak. But thanks for following my blog so religiously. I adore you.
Nanny!! (November 8)
Melissa/Protégé!! (November 10)
Mama!! (November 27) – you were here so you got it in person, but still
Joey!! (November 29)
Chelsea/Wife!! (December 3) – for whom I finally managed to have buffalo wings sent out (I attempted last year, the day that I left for Ethiopia, but no luck)

Other notable events:
HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! No celebrations here. I watched a movie and washed my underwear.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! Mine was an enormous success as I had my mama and sister here with me
BONNIE’S ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY IN ETHIOPIA!!!!! (December 4) Both a point of accomplishment and a wake-up call to get my butt in gear before the next year flies by too!
MERRY CHRISTMAS!! Also a delightful event here, ironically hosted by my Jewish friend, Marina :)
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I wish you all a very happy and fulfilling 2010 (and success with your resolutions)
HAPPY ETHIOPIAN CHRISTMAS!! (January 7) It’s still going on and I can’t eat any more doro wat (spicy chicken dish)!
And a BIG congratulations to my darling cousins, Melissa, Maura, and Catherine, for completing their first semester of college! I am so proud of you guys. Spring Break 2010: Ethiopia? :)

Phew! I think doing all of that was incentive enough for me to keep up-to-date on my blog from now on. Also, my mom totally showing me up by posting on Facebook like 5 albums of photos from their trip. But seriously, thanks for that mama! That’s really the most eventful thing that’s happened anyway, so let me stop dragging my feet (fingertips?) and fill you in. I am going to leave out a lot of the details (places we visited and such) and give more of a reflection on the visit. I’ve asked mom and Maureen to write a little something for my blog and hopefully then can give more of that information.

So Mom and Maureen arrived in mid-November and the weeks leading up to their arrival were filled with me frantically trying to prepare for them. I had just moved into my new house (dubbed “The Villa” by my supervisor and head of the Dilla Health Office) and was seriously lacking furniture to fill the place. In addition to all the empty space making me feel even lonelier than normal life does on its own, I really wanted to make a home in which my family would feel comfortable. You all have met my sister, Maureen, right? But seriously, Mo was a trooper and you all would have been shocked and proud (no offense, sister). More on that later….

So my ladies arrived at around 7:30pm on a Thursday evening and upon seeing their shining albeit jet-lagged faces, I began jumping up and down whilst running to meet them at the end of the rope line. Let’s just say my rugby skills came in handy. The cheesy movie moment culminated in a tearful, dramatic, attention-getting, three-way hug filled with kisses. I think even Mom and Mo were kissing each other as if they hadn’t just spent two days on an airplane together. I could hear G in the back of my head saying, “Ya buncha Lesbos”. We finally broke away when Mom said, “Let me look at you!” and after a few seconds they both agreed, “You look the same.” How anti-climactic.

Soon we were out in the parking lot and Mama and Mo had their first “Wow, Bonnie is a badass” moment as I negotiated (in Amharic) our taxi driver down to 70 Birr from his 100 Birr initial offer. Sorry for the language, kiddies. All three scrunched in the back seat (Maureen with her head practically out the window with curiosity and excitement), and we were on our way to the Ras Hotel, where Peace Corps always puts us volunteers up when we have to come to Addis for meetings or medical stuff. It was interesting seeing their reaction to the hotel we all consider “luxurious” since it has a TV with BBC and a bathroom in the room with a toilet and (sometimes) hot shower. We barely even notice the musty carpets, moldy ceilings, and flooding bathroom – a result of no shower curtains. They did, however, and I found it thoroughly entertaining. I remember those days, although they feel an eternity ago. After a (for me at least) delicious meal with some local beers, we retired for the night.

The following day we went to the Peace Corps office to show them around then visited the National Museum. Here we got to see a replica of the famous “Lucy” since the real one is in the States, and some other cultural stuff. We were guilted into using a remarkably unintelligible guide (interesting to hire a man with a lisp for a job entirely dependent on clear communication), who gave Maureen her first marriage proposal. I might have been offended at his preferences if I had not had nearly a year of such advances. But not to worry, our taxi driver back to the hotel made it clear that he would accept any of the three of us as his new wife so that he could go to America. What a doll.

The first few days were a challenge for all of us. Mom was having a really difficult time kicking her jet lag and both she and Maureen were having the natural reactions expected on a first visit to sub-Saharan Africa, or any developing country for that matter. I struggled as I was forced to relive all of those initial reactions and emotions and to confront the degree to which I had become desensitized to it all. When a skinny woman in rags carrying a painfully malnourished child came to the window of our taxi, Maureen had to resist her every impulse to give the woman money while my first reaction was to say “God bless you but leave us alone” because I am so tired of being looked at as a source of money. Oh no! Have I already become one of those jaded aid workers who has hardened themselves to everything around them? Reflecting on it now, I am confident that I have not.

There is a certain element of separation that is required in order to survive here. If I was walking around weeping all the time because of all the poverty and disease, I wouldn’t be very effective and most likely would have been on a flight home, months ago. And while there are certain things and behaviors that I have come to accept and consider as normal, there are also things that no degree of adaptation will allow me to excuse or accept. A man should not push a woman to the ground in order to get onto a crowded bus, no matter if he is poor, stressed, and frustrated that he cannot provide for his family. And just because a child has nothing does not mean that a feeding program that is supposed to provide children with an oasis can do the bare minimum and say “Oh, well. That’s life” when there is not enough food to feed all of the children for a week straight.

So anyway, this was a constant battle for me throughout the trip: wanting my family to be happy and comfortable yet dealing with these daily frustrations of being a white foreigner in a very poor African country. When they were upset, I was upset. It just made fresh all of the frustrations and complaints I have about this country that I try my best to suppress in favor of the good and positive things. And what made reliving all of these things with them more difficult, was knowing that they got to leave at the end and I still had a year more of this. After they did leave, I had a very difficult time. It was so nice to have company with me every day for three weeks: to wake up together, eat every meal together, and travel together. When they left, it was an intense loneliness that I hadn’t experienced before then. However, after a few weeks, I got back into my normal routine and that was a relief. As happy as I was to have them here and to see my life, the time they were here wasn’t “real life.”

Surviving here is by creating routine and making things feel as comfortable as possible. I know how to be in my town, as a volunteer, with people who know me. I didn’t know how to be a tourist. My daily life is trying to convince people that I am not a tourist, and suddenly I was. My daily dialogue in my town has been “My name is not ‘you you you’ or ‘farenji’, it’s Benny. I eat your food, I speak your language, I get from place to place by my feet, just like you. Please treat me like a person.” And the people of Dilla understand that now. But now I was in new places, getting around in a private, albeit very old, SUV and getting tourist (really, white) prices. I was really bothered by the general feeling of being taken advantage of. I know that this is the nature of tourism throughout the world but a big part of my identity here is breaking those stereotypes that all white people are rich and here to give handouts; which was why it was such a relief to get back to my town and have my mom and sister see my “real” life.

Our first night in Dilla, I invited our driver and new friend, Johannes, to stay at my home for the night. We decided to make him some “farenji” food and settled on Chinese: spring rolls, beef lo mein, and egg fried rice. To purchase the needed ingredients, I threw my loved ones right into the belly of the beast with a trip to the market. Ask any Peace Corps Volunteer and I am sure you will find that trips to the market are the most dreaded of necessary activities for life. But we survived, I got good prices, and we celebrated our success by paying a little boy to go buy us a kilo of flour. A job well done. The food was delicious and abundant, although I did acquire some semi-serious grease burns on my legs from hastily dropping a spring roll into a pan of hot oil cooking on the ground. I’ve asked if there is a work for “klutz” in Amharic and have been assured there is not.

The rest of the week was spent relaxing, enjoying each other’s company, making introductions to local friends and work people, and preparing for Thanksgiving. The guests began arriving on Wednesday and we put them straight to work, peeling, chopping, baking, menamen, menamen (that’s the Ethiopian equivalent for et cetera – “Good morning! How are you? Are you fine? Menamen, menamen”). Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day, I had to teach English and Mama and Karen were kind enough to accompany me. The class was so excited to have them there and doted on them like loyal servants. “You have no chair! Here, take mine. I will stand.” Who are these children and what have they done with my students?? Mama and Karen introduced themselves, at the beckoning of the class, and then we went over our vocabulary words. Not very exciting but Mama got to see me in action, which was fun.

When we returned home, all of the chores I had assigned to my guests had been completed! We put out the hor duerves (cheese, crackers, salami, carrots, ranch dressing, and some turkey jerky bites Chris brought) and began cooking the big feast. The men were in charge of manning the charcoal stove on which we cooked the pot roast while the women-folk prepared mashed sweet and regular potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, vegetarian gravy, cranberry sauce and mac’n’cheese. The cornbread, pumpkin pie, and strawberry shortcake were baked the night before (in my dutch oven – a big pot and tuna fish cans). There was so much food and everything turned out incredibly delicious, especially for being cooked on 2 cheap kerosene stoves. As we ate, everyone went around and said what they were thankful for. It was really lovely until Jordan dropped the bomb that he was leaving Peace Corps to go back home and marry his fiancé. We were all so happy for him but really saddened by the news. He is just such a warm, funny, and kind person and brought so much to our group.

Even still, the holiday was really wonderful and I was so happy to share it with my mom and sister. I wasn’t the only one: all my friends said how nice it was to have a mom there for Thanksgiving. In fact, many of them were calling her “Mama” – her honorary title for the entire trip. I even had one of my best friends, Misrach, stop by and try some Thanksgiving food! She really liked it but her neighbor who she brought said it was too sweet. Heartbreaking – go back to your enjera. So Thanksgiving night, we had a big sleepover with 9 bodies squeezed together on my three twin-size mattresses (pieces of foam). The next morning, we made potato pancakes from leftovers and then everyone headed back to their towns.

The following day, we left Dilla to spend some time in Awassa for John’s birthday. I won’t get into the details of finding a hotel and then our attempt to have pizza afterwards – I think Mama will tell that part nicely. {Mama, here: The oft-touted sentiment about Awassa was its reputation as Ethiopia's most modern city with a "western" feel and gorgeous landscape of mountains and its beautiful Lake Awassa. Modern, until women try to book and share a hotel room for a couple of evenings without a man. Although called Pat Benatar from time to time by my brother John, it is the first time I have ever been accused of having a lesbian relationship with my daughter Maureen. Three hotels later, we were finally able to get a hotel to rent us two rooms for this group of 4 women - at a hefty price, I might add. Bonnie's room came complete with a toilet bowl missing a large chunk of the bowl making it useless. Upset, but somewhat triumphant we headed to the best pizza place in Ethiopia (the Volunteers sometimes need a break from the injera and wat, and when available, satisfy their cravings of home). As is common in Ethiopia, rather than tell us that the pizza guy wasn't currently working, they kept promising the pizza would be ready any minute now.....2.5 hours later.... after Bonnie went searching for this "elusive" pizza cook...there was no pizza cook. When a burst of smoke emerged from an outdoor oven, we realized he was finally here and we had been sitting (and drinking beer) for hours waiting. Bonnie, in beautiful and strong Amharic, blasted anyone who would listen and managed to get our pizzas made and at no charge. Although upset, she was proud that she actually managed to get the pizzas for free - unheard of in Ethiopia, although common in this country. It was a tough day, particularly for Bonnie since she had raved about beautiful Awassa. Things could only improve...and they did.... ]

But we did have a nice walk by Lake Awassa to Monkey Park where we relaxed lakeside with sodas and books. The only minor hiccup was when a monkey tried to take off with Maureen’s purse – he literally had it in hand and was rummaging through, completely undeterred by our shouts and frantic arm-thrashing, books in hand. He finally scurried off when I jumped out of my chair and charged. That night we had dinner at this lovely roof-top bar and restaurant where we toasted Poppa with a nip of Jameson on the 4-year anniversary of his death and were rewarded with a rainbow which stretched across the sky after a brief rain. Then to pick things up a bit, we toasted Joey with our jumbo draft beers on his 24th birthday.

For our last day in Addis, we went to see a movie (Old Dogs, starring Robin Williams and John Travolta) at the Edna Mall movie theater. The movie was cute and considering the ticking clock to their departure and my subsequent depression, a better choice than the alternatives 2012 or some Renee Zellweger horror flick. For dinner, we returned to the Thai restaurant that we had dined at previously in the trip because of its delicious food (no “for Ethiopia” disclaimer included!) and delightful atmosphere (see your Christmas cards from us). We had a wonderful taxi driver from our hotel to the restaurant, who agreed to come back for us after two hours to bring us to the airport and then after I got Mama and Maureen through security, to drive me back to the hotel. We left our luggage in the trunk for convenience purposes and so were really concerned when 20 minutes after the designated pick-up time, our taxi had still not arrived. When we went outside to stand by the road in case he had forgotten the place, we spotted a taxi parked in the back of the restaurant with a sleeping driver hunched over the wheel. Apparently our wonderful taxi driver came an hour early, when we weren’t watching the driveway, and had actually been waiting for us. Oops.

Our goodbye was sooner than expected as I couldn’t even get in the doors of the airport. We hugged and kissed and began to cry and I mournfully head back to the taxi. Upon entering the taxi and driving away, I began to bawl and the aforementioned wonderful taxi driver pulled me into a one-armed bear hug, kissing my head and running is hand down my face to wipe away the tears. My bawling soon had a hint of laughter to it. To make matters more interesting, the girls went a little overboard with our “last supper” and spent more than we budgeted so Bonnie did not have enough money to pay the wonderful taxi driver. But being wonderful, he allowed me to run up to my room to get more cash, without any argument or collateral. Excuse me sir, can you adopt me?

So I will end my blog with that because I fear that if I attempt to cover any more material, this blog will never go public. Additionally, I think I may have already exceeded the American attention-span for reading and probably only 25% of you have even reached this paragraph. Congratulations and thank you. I promise to write shorter, more frequent entries to avoid such dismal drop-out rates.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Day In the Life of a Farenjua

October 6, 2009

As I am writing you this, my latest blog entry, I am dining on a sandwich of canned “potted meat” that my friend Chris received in a package and was scared of (I have no such qualms about foods with ingredients such as “mechanically separated chicken”), topped with several month-old cheese whiz. I know I have bragged about my cooking prowess but I guess it’s just one of those nights. You order delivery, I have potted meat sandwiches. I am also listening to Christmas music because that makes me happy. If it’s any indication, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is the most-played song in my iTunes.

Moving along… I am sure that many of you have heard (through Mama Mohan) that I had an unfortunate incident a few weeks ago, when a crazy bum on the street punched me in the chest during the middle of the day completely unprovoked. If you hadn’t, then please be assured that I am fine. But this incident was a breaking point of sorts for me. After months of daily harassment, this incident really upset me and made me realize that I could not keep living like this in my town. This was also just one week after I had some small items (hair conditioner, body wash, and rolls of TP) stolen from my bathroom, which is just outside of my house. So I met with Peace Corps senior staff and we decided to do an intervention of sorts in my town. Two staff came down to Dilla and we had a meeting with the head city administrator, my counterpart from the HIV Office, and the head of the health center. We discussed the problems I have been having in the town and ways that we can address these issues. For the first time, I really felt that I was taking control of the situation and was being heard. The city administrator agreed that there was a serious problem in Dilla and the head officials in the town had been meeting about how to address these issues. In fact, on the day of the punching incident I learned from my co-worker that an HIV-positive commercial sex worker was attacked in the town because of her status. Not a great place.

But even still, I have decided to give Dilla another chance. Additionally, I am moving houses! It became clear after the second theft (you may remember my clothes being stolen off the clothes line when I first got to site), that this is not a safe place for me to be. I also have a very contentious relationship with my landlady, which was exacerbating my feelings of negativity and frustration with the town. So I have found a new house that is right across from the health center and just a two minute walk from my office. The house is beautiful and HUGE, not just compared to the tiny place I am in now. It is a little bit farther from ”downtown” than my current place, but I like to look at it as similar to my choice to live in a spacious studio in the Bronx rather than a closet in Manhattan. The neighborhood is much more residential than my current neighborhood and I think living and working in the same neighborhood will really give me the sense of community that I have been craving but lacking up until now. This week I will be meeting with the kebele (local division of the town) leaders for my new neighborhood, my counterpart and the head of the health center, to organize a kind of community meeting to formerly introduce me to the community and explain why I am here. I feel that if I have at least one place in the town where people know me and understand why I am here, that I can tolerate all the other unpleasant attention. And I will just avoid the crazies as best I can.

So that’s what’s happening with me. Now I just have to find the money to buy all the new furniture I will need for my new mansion that I never had room for here. :) But at least I will have the space to host THANKSGIVING!!! My mama and sister will be here in Ethiopia for the holiday (and mom’s birthday, shhhhh) so I am preparing to have the works. I’m already trying to track down a turkey. I’ve also heard rumors of a pig farm in Dilla where I might be able to get a ham. I myself have not seen a pig since coming to Ethiopia (no one here eats pork) but I think the Catholic Church in town runs it or something…good ol’ Catholics, right Nanny? I’m crossing my fingers.

So anyway, now that I have spent months carping about the harassment I get here, I thought you might enjoy a little taste of what I mean by that. So here, for you all, is “A Day in the Life” of Bonnie Fewel Mohan, Peace Corps Volunteer in the character-building town of Dilla, Ethiopia. For those of you who will not be able to experience the charm of Ethiopia for yourselves (at this point, everyone except my mom and sister), I hope this will give you an idea.

“Greetings” (in relative order of their frequency)
1. The general “you”, which comes in several different forms:
• The steady, high-pitched string of “yous”, most common among young children, and generally delivered uninterrupted until I am out of site.
• The “you” couplet delivered in a kind of coo coo clock rhythm with increasing volume, under the misconception that I simply cannot hear them.
• The single, painfully loud shout of “YOU!”, most common among the adults in town and usually given at distances of less than three feet
• The comparatively delightful Amharic version for women, “anchey” (a has the ‘ah’ sound). For men, it is “anteh”
2. The “foreigner”, specifically “white person” accusation/identification, which also has different varieties: farenji, farenj, farenjua (female), farenjita (the Sidaminya version…that’s the language of Sidama Zone, just above of my zone, Gedeo), and finally farenjitay (Gedinya, the language of Gedeo).
3. “Ky-yo”, meaning “the red one” – I could understand this one if I were sun burned but I rarely am
4. “China” – the only other foreigners that are here for long periods of time are the Chinese guys working on either roads or telecommunications. I think they just think it’s another word for foreigner but I get a kick out of it and sometimes reply with “Bulgaria” or some other random country. They don’t get it.
5. “Sister” – this one I don’t mind
6. “Miss” or “Mrs.”
7. “Ennatay”, which means “my mother” in Amharic. Oddly, this usually comes mostly from beggar women that are my grandmother’s age (or at least look it, they might be 30 years old the way people age here).

1. “Where are you go?” – somehow, everyone in this country thinks this is a normal question to ask someone and the grammatically correct way to do so.
2. “Are you fine?” – to be “fine” is very good here so people will just ask you if you are it, rather than “how are you?”; there is only one real answer: “I am fine”
3. “What is your name?” – they often don’t even know what this means

Rude stuff
1. “Give me money”
2. “Money”
3. “Fuck you”
4. “Sex”

So that pretty much sums up the main things I have yelled at me here. Not to mention all the people that just stop in front of me to stare, follow me, or touch me. Please keep in mind that this begins from the minute I leave my compound until the minute I am inside somewhere where people know me. Take a minute to think about what that would be like, every day of your life. I know it is mostly innocent and comes from a lack of understanding, but it is also extremely exhausting. But, I guess that’s what I signed on for. So I try different tactics for how I respond to the attention to see which are most effective. The jury is still out. One experience that I have a lot, and which my Irish family will appreciate, is Ethiopians’ preoccupation with freckles. They seriously do not understand what they are and I constantly have people rubbing my arms, trying to figure it out. It’s also a difficult concept to explain because they tend to just think they are sun spots or “blemishes”. Being a proud Irish American, I refuse to have my beloved freckles reduced to being called blemishes. So for the kids at least, I just say that they are little spots of habesha, which is the name Ethiopians call themselves. This goes over pretty well and then the kids start pointing to all the different freckles, naming them “habesha” and then to the white areas saying “farenji”. It’s pretty adorable.

One last tidbit that I have to share is my first real “Peace Corps” experience. Get ready, it’s kind of gross. I had a worm lay eggs in my toe! I always wear my chaco sandals around town and have never had a problem until the rainy season came and some worm worked its way in. I guess the way they operate is they dig themselves in, lay a bunch of eggs, and then as time passes they will burst out and infect all the other toes. Fortunately, I caught it before this happened and just had to dig all the eggs out with my tweezers and nail clippers, throw on some Neosporin and call it a day. It looked a lot like puss but when you look at it up close you can see it’s hundreds of tiny little white eggs. Pretty gross, huh?

Ok, that’s all for now. I hope you have a better idea of what my days are like, at least concerning the attention I get. It will be so nice to get back to NY when no one looks twice at you, no matter how hideous, beautiful, or outrageously dressed you are. But in the meantime, I’ll work it :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Six Month Blues

August 25, 2009

I’ve now been living at my site, Dilla, for a little over six months and have been in Ethiopia for almost nine months. It’s ok, you can allow yourselves to be shocked that you’ve made it so long without me; I know I am. I mean, I’m shocked I’ve made it so long without YOU, of course! :) So apparently, according to the Peace Corps Emotional Rollercoaster (it’s not just internal, they actually have a graph), I should be in a little downward dip at this 6-month point of my service. Damn Peace Corps, I pride myself on being such an individual and they got me down to a T with their stupid rollercoaster.

Things have been tough lately. On a bright note, the harassment, although still very much present, has been getting better. “Benny” is quickly catching on and I am feeling a little more integrated in my very large community. While I am on that, I was disappointed to learn from my mom that many of you did not get my “Jets” reference. It’s Elton John, folks; “Benny and the Jets”. Maybe you’ve heard it before. Not one of my fave Elton hits but it fits the bill.

Anyway, what’s been difficult lately is mostly feeling a little unaccomplished with work. The American in me (I know, I didn’t think there was much in me either) is kicking in and naturally expecting to see results after 6 months of “work”. Not only are there no results, I have no concrete projects in the works. I feel like I am still just trying to meet people and so far behind the other volunteers. I am sure everyone is feeling this way, but I am still having a difficult time breaking my self-criticism and frustration.

I’ve also been pretty homesick lately. The funny thing about being homesick is that sometimes I find myself missing the strangest things/places. Of course I miss the people I love most and the places I love most (NY and my favorite spots within it). But sometimes places pop into my head and, while missing it terribly, I think, “I’ve only been there like 2 times” or “I don’t even like that place.” For instance, I find the hot dog stand outside the City Hall subway station popping into my head far too frequently. Granted, those that know me know I LOVE a good street hotdog but I can count the number of times I have been to City Hall on two hands (mostly to deliver grants to government buildings or for ROC events) and can count the number of times I have bought hotdogs at that stand on one hand. Yet I think about and miss it frequently.

The other place that caught be by surprise and let me know I was really having a tough time here, was when I found myself yearning to be in Los Angeles. No offense, Sister, I know you love it, but LA is really not my kind of place. When all of a sudden I had an image of LA in my head and wanted to be there, I was like, “Whoa, Bonnie. You need to get a grip.” Hehe.

I guess the stranger thing is that, even though I miss home so much, this place really does feel like a home of sorts. My life here feels like life; not a vacation, not this crazy temporary experience, but just life. In the beginning I had to tell myself that this was home for the next two years; that this was my life now. Now, I just think it naturally. Thinking about my life being anything different is what’s abnormal. The way I think about life in America is similar to the way I think nostalgically on my time studying abroad in Barcelona: an amazing time, but one that is over. It’s also kind of like the way people in America think about what it would be like to live in Italy or something. You imagine it being filled with drinking good wine and eating amazing aged cheese and salami all the time. It’s all romanticized and glorified.

That’s kind of how I think about life in America now. I think about summers playing in Central Park with my friends, eating any type of food I want, seeing more than two different races of people, getting someplace in less than 2 hours and without someone practically sitting on my lap, etc. Can you believe I even romanticize riding the subway?! I tend to leave out details like having to work, being broke and the like. But ultimately, I think it’s a good thing for me. Eventually, I will have to face “American” reality but in the meantime, living in America doesn’t feel like reality to me. Ethiopia is real; America is a dream. And if I keep thinking that way, I think I will last here longer than I sometimes want to.

Speaking of that, I have sad news. This week, we are losing two more volunteers from my group. Christina (who is from CT and whose mom works with my Aunty Mary) and CR (one of my good friends who lives relatively close to me…8 hours-ish) have both decided to Early Terminate (ET) and will both be back in the States within a week. Christina leaves on Thursday and CR will probably be gone by Monday. I am going into Addis Ababa this weekend to say goodbye to her. Both of them recently traveled outside of Ethiopia (CR to the States and Christina to Germany, where her mom is from and boy friend lives) and upon returning, realized that they were much happier in those respective places. Neither of them have been very happy since we have been at site and it seems this is the best thing for them. I completely support them but I’ll also miss them a lot. I am sure you all remember from my blog posts in the past how difficult it is to lose fellow volunteers. We really are a family here.

However, while I am on that note, I have a happy update on my friend Travis (the one who was forced to go home because of asthma). He applied to re-enroll into another PC program, one which could deal with his medical condition, and just last week left for the Philippines! Although it’s daunting to have to start all over again, he is really happy with his placement (and with good reason, that sounds way better than Ethiopia!). So I am really happy for him about that.

Anyway, there is just a quick little emotional update for you all. I am hanging in there and am optimistic about my future here. I still don’t really know what is going to happen work-wise but I have faith something will come together. Hopefully I’ll be climbing that next big hill on the rollercoaster soon. As always, thank you for your love and support. If anyone has any interest in supporting me more, um, tangibly, here are some things that I enjoy receiving:

Will accept unlimited supplies of:
-canned chicken and tuna (in water)
-cheese of any kind (it travels fine, I swear)
-beef/turkey jerky and summer sausage/hard salami (also travels fine)
-chips or crackers (triscuits and stonewheat are favorites)
-pasta and rice seasoning packets, like Knorr or Zataran’s black beans and rice or jambalaya
-nuts and dried fruit
-entertainment (books, DVDs, news magazines, puzzles, paint-by-numbers, crafts of any kind)
-recipes! (preferably ones that don’t have very exotic ingredients; simple is better)

Things I need only one of so communicate with each other:
-the book, The Magus by John Fowles
-a Schick Quattro women’s razor
-a dark-colored fitted sheet (anything you have extra in your closet, doesn’t need to be new, just dark because it’s dirty here. And they only sell top sheets which really don’t stay tucked in.)

And seriously, please feel no obligation to send me anything. I’m not starving or anything. Just if you WANT to send me something, these are some helpful hints. But I will accept ANYTHING gratefully so don’t feel tied to this list. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tales of Turning 24

August 11, 2009

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY NORA (July 22nd), MAUREEN AND DAD (July 30th) and Kelly (July 31st)!!
I hope you all had spectacular birthdays this year.

As for my birthday, it started out a little shaky but was wonderful in the end. The night before my birthday was sleepless, interrupted by intermittent trips to my friend John’s disgusting latrine with persistent diarrhea and phone calls from home from loved ones who are used to the crappy network in my town and wanted to make sure they would be able to reach me. I have no complaints about the phone calls (thank you!) but the runs I could have done without.

Next, Kyle and I went to the bus station to catch a bus to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, where I was meeting up with some friends for my birthday. The best part was, Gail, one of my best friends who lives on the other side of the country (we joke that she lives in Sudan and I live in Kenya) was going to be in Addis as well, for medical. The bus ride took 8 hours when it should take about 5, due to traffic outside of Addis. We were just sitting in absolute bumper-to-bumper for 3 hours. Might I remind you that I have the runs on top of it. So I was sitting there anxiously, trying not to crap myself. You’re welcome for the details; you just have to read it, I have to live it. When we FINALLY get into Addis, our bus breaks down and we are all forced to get out in the middle of a busy street and find line taxis, called “Blue Donkeys”. They have specific routes so we had to find the right one to get to our hotel.

Luckily, when we arrived at the hotel, our friends had already reserved rooms and I am able to take my first hot shower in what seems like ages! It was just what I needed. Getting to the restaurant to meet everyone was a chore, as it was raining, but when we got there at about 8pm, they surprised me with a cake, roses, a bottle of champagne and two huge beer towers!! We were treating ourselves to dinner at the Beer Garden. I was so surprised and felt so loved. I really have made some amazing friends here. At least through the other volunteers; I am still working on making some real Ethiopian friends. There has been some progress on that front, details coming in the next blog.

So after an amazing dinner (I ate chicken! Yeah, CHICKEN! I wish you could comprehend how exciting that was), a few of us went out dancing with these VSO volunteers (a service organization kind of similar to Peace Corps based out of the UK. They can serve 6 month, 1 year, or 2 years stints). One of them is dating an Ethiopian woman who just happened to share the same birthday as me! Although for her calendar, the birthday is the 25th of Hamlay, which is the 11th month of their 13 month calendar.

Brief aside: I believe I have mentioned that the Ethiopian day begins as 6 o’clock so their time is 6 hours after the rest of the world’s time…convenient, I know. Additionally, they have their own calendar. The Ethiopian New Year is on, coincidentally enough, September 11th (Maura and Catherine, maybe Ethiopia is the place for you two. Your birthday is actually a celebration over here!). They have 13 months, the first twelve of which are all 30 days long and then the final month is only 5 days long (and no one gets paid for that month). Additionally, the year here is 2001, 8 years behind the rest of the world. Therefore, there is no easy mathematical way to translate the Egrarian calendar date from the Ethiopian calendar and vice versa. Sometimes people and offices will have calendars that have both dates, which are very helpful, but in day-to-day life it’s extremely complicated, which is why I basically ignore their calendar. Have I mentioned that Ethiopia is unique? Yeah, it’s a little annoyingly unique.

Moving along… So my birthday was a success and lots of fun. The following day I had plans to visit my host family in Ambo, but they were in Addis for a wedding. I was somewhat relieved because it was really cold and rainy and the last thing I wanted was to get on a bus. So instead, Kyle and I went to the movies where much to his dismay, the only showing of the new Harry Potter had already passed so we saw The Hangover instead. It was funny and a nice break from Ethiopia. There weren’t even any power outages at the movie theater like last time! Monday morning we went into the Peace Corps office to use internet and such. They have satellite internet so all the sites that the Ethiopian government blocks (such as my blog site) are accessible there! So I got to actually look at my blog for the first time since I’ve been here. You can all thank my mom for posting my entries and pictures on my censored behalf.

In the afternoon we went to Fitche, a small town about 2-3 hours north of Addis where Karen lives. The ride was beautiful, despite riding in a bus with a bunch of Ethiopians who honestly believe that they will catch diseases by having the windows open and many of whom were vomiting into plastic bags on account of their illogical misconception. When we arrived in Fitche, it was close to dark, there was no cell phone network, and we had no idea where Karen lives. After much asking around, we find a bajaj driver who thinks he knows where she lives. We get in the general area and continue asking and through a neighborhood effort, we are personally escorted to Karen’s door. This is an early indication of how wonderful the people in Fitche are…and the benefits of being the only white person living in a town. Karen is surprised and delighted to see us and welcomes us in saying, “I didn’t know if you brought slippers so I bought you some.” Ethiopians all have house shoes, these ugly plastic shoes imported from China and widely available in any town, necessary in order not to track mud and dirt into the home. Karen, the doll that she is, actually went out and bought Kyle and I a pair. Unfortunately for Kyle, the largest size she can find was like a Women’s 10. Ethiopians are tiny.

None of us was particularly hungry so we just sat in her cozy living room, catching up by candlelight (no power). Karen is such a wonderful person to be around. She has the warmest presence and makes you feel more comfortable and at peace just by being near her. It doesn’t hurt that she’s a therapist back in the States and is professional listener. That’s actually why we went to FItche, in addition to wanting to see her, because she is doing an art therapy program for orphan children in her town. Kyle and I are both interested in doing a similar program in our respective towns, so we wanted to check it out. Kyle wants to do the program with children, many orphans, from the rural area of his town. I am hoping to adapt the program to adults in the Dilla Prison. Her program was great. Doing art for kids here is extremely difficult, though, because it is just so foreign to them. Artistic expression, any kind of creativity is not encouraged here so one is ever challenged to think abstractly or even to just think for themselves. It’s one of the things that frustrates me the most about living here. So the kids didn’t always understand the instructions, they were often just drawing what the person next to them was drawing, but they were so happy to have real colors to use. Karen had crayons and colored pencils sent from the States and I am confident it was the first time any of those children had used them before. It is going to take time for them to feel comfortable expressing themselves through art, but I think it was already a success. And I think these are the programs that are going to change Ethiopians’ mentalities so that progress and innovation may be possible from within the country, rather than always initiated by international organizations. I can only hope.

So thank you family and friends for the calls, the cards, the presents, etc. Even though I am far away, I felt extremely loved for my birthday. More updates (hopefully) coming soon! Love and miss you all!

Oh, and I got bit by a dog…but I’m ok!