Friday, 29 June 2007


Went to the nurse after school today to find out about which inoculations I need, and when. I will need Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Rabies and Yellow Fever. She also said that one of the antimalarial tablets I will have to take every day of the two years in Ethiopia can cost £20 per week. Also the common side effects of one lot called "mefloquine" are: headache, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, loss of balance, sleep disorders, abnormal dreams... and those are just the common side effects. Sounds good. She said a patient she knew about basically went a bit crazy on the pills. The list of uncommon side effects include: anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, convulsions, rare reports of suicidal tendencies... oh, and one that is not so worry for me... "hair loss". Sounds like fun. She recommended a different medication.

To my surprise I had two shots tonight... one in each arm!

Wednesday, 27 June 2007


A CD-ROM I ordered on basic Amharic (the official language of Ethiopia) arrived today.

I tried it out, but it's so different to anything I have tried to learn before. After having a go, I can recognise some of the numbers when I hear them, but can't remember them to say. I also got a little phrase book. There are about 100 different Arabic-looking characters in the writing.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Ethiopia Facts

I've just compared Ethiopia with the UK in a couple of areas. It's pretty grim reading:

Land Area:241,590km21,119,683km2 (4.6x)
Life expectancy at birth:7949
Infant mortality:5/100092/1000
Median age:4018
% population aged 0-14 years:17%43%
Paved road:388,000km7,000km

(Facts from CIA World Fact Book (see link on right) )

Thursday, 21 June 2007


What a nightmare this disease is. I have been reading a book I got at the training course + websites including this one:
I will be having to take anti-malarial tablets for the whole two years - and that doesn't even guarantee you won't get it! Great!!!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007


Just got back from the doctors. I was with the nurse for a pre-check. She's not worried about my slightly high body-mass index as I'll soon be losing that when I don't have access to chocolate!!! Then to the docs for almost half an hour checking ears, eyes, reaction tests, going through my medical history etc. Luckily I didn't hear the sound of a rubber glove snapping on, so didn't have that test. He passed me, just have to hope that the VSO medical unit agree!

Monday, 18 June 2007

"Preparing to Volunteer" Course

Just got back from a very busy weekend training course in Harborne, near Birmingham.

Friday night was until 21:15, Saturday and Sunday were 09:00 - 20:00, and I didn't leave until about 15:00 today.

Stayed at the training center "Harborne Hall" in a room with a basin. Smelt like fly spray! Good food though, and a resource library with net access.

Course was very interesting. We covered the history of developing countries and how they got like they did. About how the rich countries get richer at the expense of the poorer ones.

Interesting facts like: sending your second-hand clothes to developing countries can actually wipe out that country's own textile industries as people buy and sell their "donated" clothes and have no need for their home produced clothes.

Then we learnt about how to cope with culture shock by doing role plays etc. How what you think the reason for people behaving like they do might not be the reason at all. The reason half a class doesn't attend a session might be because they all have to gather the harvest etc.

We also looked at our own reasons for volunteering, how you should not expect to "change the world."

Also how HIV/AIDS affects everything, like the reason a teacher is away for 5 days is that they have to travel across the country on poor transport to attend the funeral of a relative who has dies of AIDS.

There were 17 of us, a couple going to Ethiopia at the same time as me. It was great being with people who all had the same goal - a great bunch!

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Accepted Ethiopia

After lots of research about the country, contacting people that have been there, and watching a documentary on teacher's tv ( which is really good, by the way - really helps you to see what it's all about) I have filled in my form and accepted the placement. Now I have to wait and see if the director in the country accepts me.