A Little of This, A Little of That = Life in Addis

Some of you have asked me to post more details of what it’s like living in Addis. I tried doing a ‘Day in the Life’ post, but after reading, it seemed like it would be really boring to anyone besides maybe my mother. So, here’s my best attempt at what life can be like in Addis day-to-day.

Yesterday, Jonathan and I were preparing to teach English at Kechene Pre-School when we noticed one of our star students, Ammon, was missing. Shortly thereafter he showed up with his grandmother. We figured something must be up.

Sure enough, it turned out that Ammon had a serious problem/ infection in his private area. I would have been crying my eyes out, but he seemed exceptionally calm. I quickly called the only American doctor I know, Dr. John (a fellow North Carolinian, might I add) at Mission to the Wolrd (Andy Warren’s project aimed at serving and providing for HIV+ patients). Dr. John took things in stride and, without even questioning how I know this kid or anything else (virtually half the population in this city is probably in need of substantial medical care), told me to bring him over directly. He gave Ammon some antibiotics and told us that if he is not better in two days to bring him back. He wouldn’t allow me to pay him anything, not even for the medication. What a guy, and what a program; doctors have such a direct, immediate impact on peoples’ lives. If anyone is interested in contributing funds to the Mission to the World project, I’ve included relevant contact information at the bottom of this post.   

We made it back to Kechene Pre-School by lunch and played with kids outside (thankfully, it wasn’t raining) until about 2:30. A fellow teacher, Azzaret, then asked if we were interested in hiking up into the mountains to see if we could find any baboons (school ends at 3). As you can imagine, we jumped at the opportunity. The hike was steep but gorgeous once we finally broke into the forest. There was a wonderful view of the city from the top, and for once, we had clean air to breathe. Unfortunately, I still cannot claim to have seen baboons in the wild.

On the way back we caught up with (and I tried to scare) fellow volunteers Ashley and Hanna. I immediately felt like a jerk when I discovered Hanna had eaten something bad for lunch and had been losing it (her lunch) all the way home. I felt so sorry for her, but there’s really little you can do other than wait it out. After resting and having a Sprite, she felt better and was out of the house by 7 AM this morning. Unfortunately, Jonathan also ate something bad and was up late last night, losing his dinner. He too, was off to teach again today at Kechene. I love the fact that our volunteers, unless absolutely disabled, are up and out of the house between 7 and 8 AM every morning.

I hope this helps give you all a better feel for what life is like in Addis.

If anyone is interested in donating funds to Mission to the World (they could certainly use it with escalating food prices hammering their budget) you can donate tax deductible funds via Cherokee Gives Back, a non-profit organization. Contact Lyston Peebles at lpeebles@cherokeefund.com or 919-931-4680 and tell him you are interested in donating to Andy Warren’s Mission to the World Project in Addis. 



Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Salem, Quite the Entrepreneur

Salem is a delightful businesswoman in Addis who runs what would be considered a ‘boutique’ shop back in the States. It is full of handmade, one of a kind Ethiopian jewelry, scarves, blankets, cotton floor mats and other such items. She started with very little in 2000, working by herself from her home. In 2006 she officially decided to make her hobby a business and since then has been growing the business as opportunities present themselves. She now employs 12 workers directly, producing many of the items displayed onsite (including beaded jewelry, woven items: floor mats, table clothes, scarves). She also indirectly employs a substantial number of other crafts men and women by providing them a venue in which to sell and market their handmade goods (on commission, of course). She is in the process of determining what it will take to produce beads onsite and hopes to have this operation up and running by the end of the year.

Her shop is really quite incredible, as is the quality of the items displayed. It seems that if Salem was connected with the right person back in the states (ie, another boutique store owner who is in touch with this market) there would be demand for many of her products. Her store is not centrally located at all (in fact, it’s behind a gate very much off of the main road) and even still she says that 95% of her customers are Westerners who are simply knowledgeable of what they are buying and have sought out her store. Evidently, beads (which are what her jewelry is crafted from) have a rich history in Africa. Some of the beads were original known as ‘trade beads,’ intended for currency, and others are simply known for being from a specific area such as Uganda or Ethiopia. She also has beads originating from India, China, Italy and other countries, that have somehow found their way to Africa.

Jonathan Page and I will be working to establish a partner for her back in the States that would benefit from having such quality work in their shop. As I receive more details from Jonathan’s friend and others working on creating a market for these goods Stateside, I will post their information so anyone interested may place orders.

Selam: Doin’ It and Doin’ It Right


Well, I can’t put it any better than the folks at Selam did themselves, in their annual ‘Yearbook:’

          Mr. David and Mrs. Marie-Luise Roschli were living with their four children in the outskirts of Addis Ababa running a chicken farm. Tsehay and her sisters and brothers who were neighbors were adopted by the Roschli family after the death of their parents.

          With the advent of the communist regime in Ethiopia the Roschli’s were forced to go back home to Switzerland.

          Tsehay, the oldest of the adopted children, was able to come back to Ethiopia and established Selam Children’s Village in 1986.

          It started its operation by accepting 28 orphaned children as a relief intervention and through time, it expanded its activities to include development through strategic focus on education and skill training.

Needless to say, I was blown away during my visit to Selam. Selam does it right by not only providing room, board, education and healthcare to orphans, but also equipping them with marketable skills, ensuring they will never again face a hopeless future. 

Today, there are over 450 orphans being provided full accommodation: food, clothing, education and health services; there over 4,000 students enrolled in primary and secondary school and nearly 400 students enrolled in Selam Technical and Vocational College.

Depending on the year, somewhere between 20 and 40% of operating costs are covered by various for-profit activities, such as: the production of threshers, beehives, solar ovens, cement mixers, trailers, air compressors, sinks, trashcans, manually operated water pumps, water storage containers, wheels, bushels, bearings, etc. etc. These items are produced primarily by students enrolled in the Technical and Vocational College and Girls Vocational Center. Job placement rates for these students are very high due to their quality training, craftsmanship and work-ethic.

The Girls Vocational Center trains women in international and national food preparation, pastry and baking, cloth making, house keeping, baby sitting and gardening. I can personally vouch for the quality of food and service provided by the onsite restaurant where the women train. The restaurant is open to the public and, needless to say, a seat was hard to find.

In addition to all this, a greenhouse, garden and dairy farm are also operated onsite to allow Selam to operate with minimal dependence on outside inputs. The greenhouse is used to grow hundreds of varieties of native flowers and other plants; some are sold to the public and others are planted throughout the campus. The garden and dairy farm provide superb agricultural training for all of the children (a life skill they will always be able to depend on…as my father never tired of telling me) while simultaneously providing nutritious fruits, vegetables, milk and cheese; any surplus harvest is sold to the public.

Thoroughly impressed and uplifted.

A few pictures of the greenhouse and other facilities can be found on the ‘JTV’s photos’ link at the right.  

Contact information:

          Selam Children’s Village

          PO Box 8075

          Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

          Tel: +251 1 46 29 56

          Fax: +251 1 46 29 45

          Email: selamchildren.v@ethionet.et

          Website: www.selam-eth.org.et



          Selam Technical & Vocational Center

          PO Box 8075

          Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

          Tel: +251 1 46 29 42

          Fax: +251 1 46 34 79

          Email: selamtvc@ethionet.et

          Website: www.selam-eth.org.et





Believe it or not, foosball is huge here. While the people have very little, you still see numerous ancient, but very much in use, foosball tables. As I was getting off at the bus stop the other evening I managed to finally get in a game with the locals under a bridge. The boys of 401 Pritch Ave (where I lived in Chapel Hill for those of you wondering) have been known to play a little foosball, so I was excited to see how I measured up.

To their surprise, I crammed the first goal in from my ‘five guys’ and thought I had overestimated the competition (they really appeared to have quick hands, and the table was by far the fastest I’ve played…the rods were spring loaded so you could bounce your guys back and forth faster). As it turned out however, I had by no means overestimated the competition. The guy I was playing proceeded to score six unanswered and it became apparent I had lost my place at the table.

I think the locals got a kick out of a ‘ferenge’ (white person) getting into a little foosball. I will keep you posted on my progress.


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Toms Shoes, Balazs, Two Guys from South Afica…


The guys from Toms Shoes (www.tomsshoes.com) visited Cherokee House last week. While they appeared to be quite the eccentric group, their organization seems to be doing some good in Ethiopia. For every pair of shoes they sell, they give away another pair in the developing world (giving away shoes in the developing world is likely the most indirectly profitable thing they can do, which is, in all respects, a good thing). In the southern part of Ethiopia a lot of people evidently suffer from a disease that causes their feet to swell and eventually cripples them. The only thing needed to prevent this disease is a pair of shoes, which prevents the bacteria from entering through the pores of their feet. Toms Shoes was here to give away a couple hundred pairs (if not more, I’m not sure of the exact number; I spoke with them only briefly). Another simple solution to a life threatening disease.

Balazs is, or at least proclaims to be, a world renowned artist (www.balazsart.com). From all that I can tell, he probably is. At any rate, he appreciates people and culture and is in love with Ethiopia. While he’s not staying at Cherokee House, he visits every other day to report his comings, goings and recently made friends (all native, of course). His plan is to make numerous sketches while in country, return to the States (Raleigh, NC to be specific) and begin painting his favorites. He will then sell the originals as well as prints, with a significant portion of proceeds going to Cherokee Gives Back. He’s also hoping to receive funding from one of the richest developers here in Addis to build a studio for North Carolina artists back in Raleigh in conjunction with a  sister studio in Addis Ababa for artists in Ethiopia.

Two guys from South Africa. Well there were actually six of them, but I only met two. They are traveling from South Africa to Egypt, in two totally packed Toyota 4x4s, in an attempt to document locally based NGOs effectively servicing the social and environmental sectors. Profiles of the organizations they visit can be found at www.love2africa.org.za or www.heartofhealing.org.za; an account of their expedition is at www.doingitforafrica.com . Due to a slow and unreliable internet connection, I’ve been unable to verify the authenticity of these sites and the project itself, but the guys seemed genuine. Heather and I spent Friday afternoon touring them around some of Cherokee’s local NGO partners.


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia