I sit writing this entry from the comfort of my new home in Deneba, Ethiopia. I was fortunate enough to inherit many household items from a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer who sadly decided to terminate her service for unknown reasons. Life of a Peace Corps Volunteer is difficult for so many reasons, I hate to see her go but greatly appreciate her contributions to my new living quarters. She was also gracious enough to leave me many contacts for those who may become my new friends and told me that my new host family/landlords are amazing. All of these things will help me in my transition to this new home more than she can know!
I already have a bed frame, mattress, desk, table, bookshelf, and many kitchen appliances! Not only has this saved me so much money when I receive my settling-in allowance but it saves me time and effort navigating in a new town to locate certain necessities.
My lovely little town of Deneba has most all of the basics for a population of about 6,000. I was able to stay in a small hotel my first night here for 60 birr (approximately $3USD). That 60 birr provided me with a small room with a bed, western toilet, and sink. However, both the electricity and water were out for the night I stayed. We have a post office, bank, bus station, medical clinic(a very nice hospital is under construction and expected to open next year), 2 primary schools, and 3 high schools. The town is surrounded by farm land on most every side as well as a public forest area that is absolutely gorgeous.
We met our Community Liaisons in Addis. Their role in our transition is to escort us to our town, introduce us to the school and community, and help us navigate during our site visit. My Liaison and I arrived in Deneba on Tuesday (August 19th) after 2 bus rides totaling 4 hrs on the road. I boarded a bus in Addis Ababa(the capital city) at 9 am along with two other PCT’s and their Liaisons. Since buses seat about 15 people, they wait until a bus is full before heading out. We waited on our bus for about 45 minutes before departing. We headed to Debre Berhan on main paved roads for a 2 hour ride then stopped for lunch and a quick tour of my hub town. My hub town is simply the closest large town that has a variety of goods to purchase. I then boarded my second bus (waiting about an hour for departure) and rode for two hours on rough, bumpy, dirt roads to Deneba. The whole trip took about 6 1/2 hrs. The drive was amazing and incredibly scenic. Driving through both flat and hilly terrain. Passing by clusters of beautiful mud hut villages and shepherds guiding their flocks of goats or cows.
After a day and half working to fill out Peace Corps paperwork that included everything from the Head of the Police’s phone number, to the closest location to land a small airplane, to a community map to show the location of my new home. My liaison and I have finished our tasks and I still have another full day here before beginning my trek back to the capital. So far, I believe myself lucky to not only have this site but to have been placed at my particular school. The staff are younger and therefore much more accepting of me being here. Many older teachers with more experience tend to be afraid of what change a Peace Corps Volunteer might bring. My future school staff consider themselves lucky to have me. I didn’t understand that at first but my liaison explained that out of 40 plus local high schools, his is the one who received a Peace Corps Volunteer.
My liaison has been most helpful introducing me to Deneba and the people of my future community. We have spent hours simply walking through town and the outskirts to meet people and get to know the land. I believe my liaison shares my joy of nature and walking, so he has introduced me to a variety of places surrounding town.
Friday, August 21- My short visit has come to an end and I look forward to returning in a month’s time. I will miss Deneba. It is so different from Addis and Butajira as they are both large in population and size. Both have been great places to visit but I feel much more at home in Deneba.
Until next time…Peace.