Next month, I will be starting a new chapter in my life in Gondar, Ethiopia.
To some, Ethiopia is a cursed land because of the cyclical drought and famine that’s been hitting the land, while HIV and AIDS continue to ravage the Northeast African country, making it the third country with the largest number of people living with HIV and AIDS, next to India and South Africa.
To others, it is a gold mine of culture and history. It is in Ethiopia that the four-million-year-old hominid skull was discovered, and it is likewise believed that the sacred city of Axum houses the ark of covenant, which is being closely guarded by the “Keepers of the Lost Ark.”
To a development worker like me, it is a land full of promise and hope. Hunger, HIV and AIDS, and border disputes aside, Ethiopia is a beautiful land, home to 77 million beautiful and gentle people. It is brimming with talent and skill, only lacking in opportunities. So this is where VSO comes in—to build capacities, erase stigma, provide opportunities. Because after all, every one on this Earth deserves to have a better life.
- Ethiopia is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, and Kenya.
- It is one of the oldest countries in the world and has yielded some of the oldest traces of civilization.
- It is the only country in Africa that was not colonized.
- It is the origin of the coffee bean, and coffee ceremonies are very important in every household.
- It is home to the African Union.
- It was hit by a devastating famine in 1984, which drew international attention.
- It is a country of religious tolerance. Orthodox Christians and Muslims live harmoniously together.
- The Highlands have a very pleasant and cool climate, while the Danakil is the hottest place on Earth.
- Greetings are very important in Ethiopian culture. Shaking hands and kissing on the cheeks are the normal forms of greeting.
- The staple food is injera, a large circular pancake made from a small grain called teff, which is only found in the country. Pork is rarely found on menus.
- There is an ongoing border dispute with Eritrea and threat of war.