It is 2006 in Ethiopia… not only do Ethiopians follow their own calendar, they also go by a time frame that is concurrent with sunrise – 12am Western time is 6am Ethiopian time. Despite there being stark differences between the UK and Ethiopia, I have acclimatised very quickly into the Gondar scene. It is an incredibly friendly place where the people are keen to get to know foreigners (‘farangies’), and want to invite you for coffee in their homes or on a tour of the local sites, which includes dipping in and out of the many surrounding Churches, or taking a look at the grand castle.
Volunteering for Meketa has been a memorable experience, and one which I intend on revisiting. At Meketa’s after-school club the kids learn English, play games, and socialise. I have drawn upon my experiences as a madrichah (youth leader) on Noam youth movement and have taught the kids games that I enjoyed on camp. Games like ‘Ninja’ and ‘Fruit Salad’ have gone down a treat!
I am working with a local volunteer, Getachew, on the project. ‘Gech’ is an incredibly warm, intelligent and dedicated volunteer whom all the kids respect greatly. Planning lessons together and working closely with him on the project has been a great pleasure and I have learned a great deal from him. I have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for education that the kids have shown.Having grown up in a Jewish youth movement myself, I feel that Meketa has given me the opportunity to pass on what I gained from being part of a youth movement to the Jewish youth in Ethiopia.
On the weekends I have had time to soak up some of Gondar’s nightlife. Last weekend I went bar hopping with some of the people that work in my building. Here they have ‘traditional culture clubs’ and ‘modern clubs’. In a traditional club there is normally a husband and wife double act who sing together and play a special Ethiopian guitar-like instrument. They freestyle their performance, drawing inspiration from the crowd. Since I was the only ‘farangie’ in the club I attracted a lot of attention from the performers who sang about me being from London, how I am a real Ethiopian, that I should never leave, and how my nose is different from everyone else’s, whilst making me get up in the middle of the club and dance in the traditional Ethiopian style! Despite feeling embarrassed, I thought it was hilarious and will be heading back soon…
The ‘modern’ clubs are a little harder to explain. Imagine a small square room made from corrugated metal. The music alternates between Ethiopian popular music and and dancehall mashups of the top 40. Totally different from the traditional clubs but equally enjoyable!
After a night out in England pooped party goers usually turn to fried food. In Ethiopia you need look no further than the women who sit on the sides of the street selling boiled eggs and a special mixed spice that you sprinkle on for yourself after having bashed the shell of your egg against a lighter…or the ground – delicious! Perhaps there is a gap in the market in the UK for a healthy alternative to the usual post-party nosh!?