Thursday, 30 August 2007
In the afternoon I went to the local Wealden VSO group's fundraising lunch. I met lots of people there including some Returned Volunteers (RVs) who had done VSO work in the past. One lady had been on three different placements since retirement. There was a good buffet which I stocked up on and entertainment was provided by a live jazz group. My car was noticeably the oldest one there, but it was made up for by the fact that I was the youngest person there!!! (I'd better be careful what I say, as I was handing out cards with this blog address on it, so I don't know who'll be reading it and I'm hoping that some of the people may donate more to VSO, perhaps using the link on the right to my fundraising web page!!!) Thanks again to the hosts for the food and company, and I'll keep the group updated with my progress during the two years. Watch this space.
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
Sunday, 26 August 2007
Next, I went South to Blackpool. I stayed about 5km from the town where it was less "glitsy" and noisy! I had a good day just walking along from my hotel, out on all three piers and along to a giant mirror ball passed the pleasure beach with its giant roller coaster. In all, I estimate I walked about 15 miles, finishing with a walk along a massive sandy beach on the north end near my hotel as the sea came in (it comes in very quickly as the sand is fairly flat.)
I'm really going to miss the sea when I go to Ethiopia. I love visiting all coastal places whether natural, rocky, sandy, ports, dodgy seaside resorts etc.
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
Then on to SKWID (Skills for Working in Development) proper. I was in a group of around 18 people, 4 going to Ethiopia and a few teachers among us. At first the course seemed full of jargon and acronyms and I thought (as did a couple of the teachers): "Oh no! We thought we were getting away from all the jargon and paperwork that seems to dominate teaching in the UK at the moment." We had a mega-overdose of "Participatory approaches", "Facilitation" and "tools" to use when negotiating. We did learn a lot though, especially about how just bundling in to a situation without thinking of the consequences of your actions and how it will effect everyone (including the silent majority) is BAD! We also learnt how to do a stakeholder analysis - which was nice.
Anyway, after five days of getting up and collecting breakfast, course, biscuit and coffee break, course, lunch, course, biscuit and coffee break, course, dinner, course etc people were getting a bit stir crazy and it was like (in northern voice): "Day 5 in the big brother house - three volunteers tried to climb over the wall when the coffee ran out."
The last day, in small groups, we had to prepare a scenario and facilitate a participatory discussion (e.g. five of us had to be pregnant women in Cambodia and one of our group had to facilitate a discussion about a new health center using a "tool" to aid this discussion - e.g. guided drawing or role playing.)
So overall, once all the jargon has been filtered out by my brain, it gave me a good idea of some things to think about when I go to Ethiopia.
Wednesday, 15 August 2007
- You pronounce Gilgel Beles: Gil (as in a fish gill); gel (as in jel like jelly); Beles (=bellez).
- Gilgel Beles College of Teachers Education is a new college (opened February 2005.)
- Where I might be staying: residence in the college campus has greater facilities than the accommodation in the town (including spacious houses, cold showers and “flush” toilets).
- The college (at August 2006) did not have any internet facilities.
- There was a small internet cafe in the town with extremely unreliable dial-up connection.
- you can buy toilet paper in any town or village in Ethiopia.
The journey to and from the capital city also sounds fun:
"The journey to Gilgel Beles from Addis Ababa is split over two days (first day: 12 hour journey, Addis Ababa to Chagni; second day: 1-2 hours journey, Chagni to Gilgel Beles).
There is no direct bus from Gilgel Beles to Addis Ababa; and the return journey may involve three or more bus journeys (depending on availability of buses!) Most likely first day: Gilgel Beles to Chagni / Kosober; then to Debre Markos (total 6-8 hours); second day: Debre Markos to Addis Ababa (total 6-8 hours). "
"I did not have any malarial problems; although most staff and students in Gilgel Beles do. I used a mosquito net (over windows, door and bed); I also took larium malaria tablets. "
"The native language of Gilgel Beles is not Amharic. However, the majority of the residents speak Amharic (as they are not originally from the area). The ‘locals’ speak Gumuz, and various other languages from the Benishangul-Gumuz region. English is not widely spoken. The only people who speak English are the Gilgel Beles College academic staff and some other teachers and government workers in the town. "
Tuesday, 7 August 2007
Also, I now have my flight date - 26th September, where I will be leaving with 20 other volunteers going to to Ethiopia (7 from straight from London, and the rest from connecting flights from Manchester, Amsterdam etc). We will arrive in Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia) at 02:25 in the morning - nice (although Ethiopia is 3 hours ahead so it will only feel like 23:25.)
Only two more to go...