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Volunteering in Ethiopia: Arrival Procedure in Addis Ababa

Ethiopia, Projects Abroad in Ethiopia - Host Family

Most volunteers fly into Bole International airport in Addis Ababa in the middle of the night - make sure you've got a warm coat and wear an extra pair of socks! After a short walk off the plane through to the arrival lounge, you will be greeted by Samson 'Sami' Workneh, our Director for Ethiopia.

You'll jump in a car with Sami and head for our Projects Abroad flat and office, where you'll be left to rest for the remainder of the night or morning, and you'll have the opportunity to take a well-earned hot shower. You will then spend the following morning with Sami getting to know Ethiopian culture and how things work in Addis Ababa, before heading out for a traditional Ethiopian buffet for your first taste of the ubiquitous Injera!

Volunteering in Ethiopia: Orientation and Induction

After a filling meal, you'll head off with Sami for your induction tour of the city. All the normal stops are included - you'll be shown where to change your money, the post office, important landmarks and internet cafés - yes they do exist, even in Ethiopia! Sami is very keen for his volunteers to see as much as possible, so he may even find the time to take you to a museum to visit Lucy, the oldest complete Hominid skeleton, found in Ethiopia, or to learn about the different tribes and origins of Ethiopian society.

Ethiopia, Projects Abroad in Ethiopia - Ethiopian Street

Depending on the time and your programme, you may be introduced to your placement during that afternoon. If not, Sami will pick you up and take you the next day. Whenever it happens, you'll be taken from your host family on public transport to give you a chance to test out the route and see the landmarks.

Blue-and-white painted minibuses - public taxis - are the quickest and most popular form of public transport, and they go everywhere in Addis. They also stop anywhere - all you have to do is put your hand out to halt one, and remember to shout "waraj!" - "stop!" - nice and loudly when you see your destination! There are also plenty of blue-and-white painted Lada taxis all over the city.

After a day of introductions, you'll head with Sami to your host family. Our host families are mostly middle class Ethiopians living in their own single-storey family homes throughout the city. Initial introductions will probably take place over a traditional coffee ceremony, so you'll learn about this aspect of the culture, and get the chance to savour the taste and aroma of arguably the best coffee in the world.

You will then be left to have dinner with the family and settle in. Ethiopians eat lots of meat - mainly beef and chicken in a variety of different spicy stews called wot. There are always a huge variety of dishes available at each meal, including vegetables, lentil stews, wots, and salads - all of course heaped generously atop your injera.

If you need a change, Addis has a huge range of foreign foods, especially Italian due to the five year Italian occupation during World War 2, but you can also find German, Mexican, Indian, Chinese - there's even a Burger Queen! It is certainly possible to be a vegetarian in Ethiopia, but you will have to keep explaining, so be prepared for lots of quizzical looks!

Coming from an increasingly isolated western culture, you'll be amazed at the friendly and generous nature of all Ethiopians; Ethiopian hospitality really is mind-blowing, and you'll no doubt have offers of meeting up for a coffee coming out of your ears, since it's considered very cool to have a ferenje - or foreign - friend!


 
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(09) 2316 3204
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