Reflections

This is my last full week in Ethiopia; I have truly enjoyed my time here. Ethiopia was my first experience in Africa. Coincidently, I look Habesha so I blend very easily and knowing a small amount of the language has helped me get around fairly easy. The real shock comes when I speak English very well or I speak Amharic with my English accent.

I wanna start by saying I appreciate the leadership of my boss Yosef. I learned a lot from him and do hope to meet with him again someday. I told him he had 8 years to come to America or we can’t be friends anymore lol. I will be 30 in 8 years.

Ethiopia has a very interesting culture. In terms of progression, it’s very slow here. There are many infrastructure improvements that are happening here such as the new light rail in Addis, the new stadium in Addis, the Djibouti-Ethio railway among many others and much economic investment, primarily by the Chinese, that are trying to shape a new/competitive Ethiopia. On the ground level though, much of that investment and infrastructure development doesn’t really trickle down. There are limited social mobility programs here and people (even in Addis, similar to the rural areas) still sit around all day and do nothing. I can literally go to the center of my neighborhood, catch a bus to a different neighborhood, and come back hours later to see the same people sitting around. It’s almost too difficult to place blame in this situation. An uneducated population can’t be effective in contributing to society but whose fault is it that these people aren’t properly educated. The wages that people do receive aren’t great enough to truly carry out dreams, just enough to get by. This Ethiopia is not destined for greatness at all. Most of the people that are educated at some of the state-sponsored institutions don’t have an international mobility to go above and beyond to maximize their potential.

The range of volatile socio-economic factors that affect these people on a daily basis ultimately hold them back from going beyond Ethiopia. I’ve talked to so many people here with dreams and ambitions much bigger than Ethiopia but are limited because they just simply don’t have the resources to truly see what they could become.There are so many people here who have BIG DREAMS but LITTLE OPPORTUNITY ITS SICKENING. This might be my western identity taking the forefront but from an objective standpoint I think we can agree that these people should be given oppurtunity to strive for greatness.

The fortunate few that are educated at the American private schools here I’m sure are lucky but there is a much larger group of people with a future that is just much more bleak. Still many people here remain hopeful and in good spirits that better days will come to this country. It would be interesting to see what this country would look like in 5 maybe even 15 years from now with everything that is going on. One of the big questions I have is if the poor will have a deeper sense of social inclusion, rhetorically I answer no. 80% of the country lives in rural areas and education is not the primary focus in these regions, at least in terms of formal education. So a big question I feel the government has to tackle is how to increase education opportunity to be expanded into these areas and provide the opportunity for pragmatic futures for the people. Through my field visits, I saw first hand the challenges that the government will have to face in moving Ethiopia into a more modern-agrarian style society. They have their work cut out for them to say the least. People dont even understand basic sanitation, educational or practices of social responsibility here. But once again…who can you blame for this? Development is happening but its uneven and painful to watch.

Revisiting the issue of the Ethio-Djibouti railway, I see that the government is trying to correct for inefficiency in getting resources to those who need it the most. Currently there are lorries that wait by the Djibouti ports to deliver resources to people but they take forever to get them there! Specifically, I believe the average time of transport for most of the resources/supplies to get from the Djibouti port to wherever they need to go is on average 24-48 hours but due to lack of trucks, government corruption, and infrastructural problems; it takes 5-10 days for many things to reach their destinations. People in the drought affected (and now flood affected) zones are facing a human security crisis. What’s worse is when this aid does FINALLY reach where it needs to go, its set up on a tier system. Women in the communities that I visited told me that aid is not distributed equally; some people are favored by the government and receive aid more frequently/in higher amounts than less favorable members of the community. The determinants of that aid became an issue once I tried to dig deeper.

Nonetheless, the country has beautiful sites to see and the people here are very respectful and caring for the most part, I’d love to come back; I just wish I spoke Amharic fluently. In the next 5-10 years, Addis Ababa will show vast improvement. With a new stadium and many other projects this will truly start to look like the modern cosmopolitan hub of Ethiopia. But tackling that uneven development is what I’m more interested in seeing as well as increasing the socio-economic mobility of the people of this country. In my short time here I have forged some pretty fruitful friendships that I hope will prosper further. I’ve added all the people here that I will want to keep in contact with on social media.

Some final pictures from the country.

I waited to upload this blog until I left the country, was not trying to be detained lol.

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Me Thomas Dagim at the graduation party for Thomas from Addis Ababa UniversityIMG_3028

Gebre and I at the Ethiopian Coffee Futbol club headquartersIMG_3042

Weird combo at the going away party created by Thomas.IMG_3043

I embraced the chikina tibbs!!IMG_3044

in Addis Ababa stadium!!

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One of my favorite hotel workers wanted to grab a picture. We shared some moments together! Her name was Redat