Two Weeks in Ethiopia

 

November 26th 2011 was the start of my 3rd visit to Ethiopia as a part of the link that the University Hospitals of Leicester have with the University and Hospital of Gondar. During my first visit, the war with Eritrea re-started and last year I was stranded in Addis due to snow in London – what was in store this time??

The city of Gondar is around 500 miles North of Addis Abba close to the Simien mountains and Lake Tana and was historically once the capital of the country but probably now more a national tourist “hot spot” for the numerous castles started to be built during the reign of Emperor Fasilidas in the 1600’s .

The two weeks were not spent in rest and relaxation as I had a full timetable, which overall God was using as a lesson of his provision and goodness.

The main purpose was to teach students (from all over Ethiopia who had travelled to Gondar) as part of the MSc in Advanced Clinical and Laboratory Practice.

In the first week, I renewed friendship with 7 students (Kedir, Mulualem, Amaha, Abate, Martha, Amanuel and Gashaw) from last year, to teach Mycology (fungal infections) and Quality Assurance in Microbiology. It is Gashaw who I will be communicating with regularly to support the laboratory in Gondar. These students greeted and welcomed me in the traditional Ethiopian way.

In the second week, 43 new students (again from all over Ethiopia) – Nurses, midwives, anaesthetists, physiotherapists and laboratory staff were taught Leadership and Management as part of their core modules.

Teaching in Ethiopia is mainly through direct lecturing – so group work, tutorials and role play was new to them and they responded with the encouragement of fruit gums, fruit pastilles and mints (imagine a children’s talk on a Sunday morning).

The middle weekend, I had hoped for some Christian fellowship by going to church with one of the Christian doctors from Gondar but she was away at a conference.

How our Lord provides – one of the other lecturers who had flown out with me was a believer from Above Bar Church in Southampton. In addition, 2 doctors from the UK  we met one evening whilst having something to eat were also Christians – no shortage of Christian fellowship or sharing including prayer support of one another during the trip, including an impromptu prayer meeting in a garden.

The middle weekend wasn’t a rest as the call for prayer by both Moslems and the Ethiopian Church started at 4-00am, plus I had my plans changed:-

Joy’s school link in Bahar Dar is through a charity called Link Ethiopia and for the first time it was a privilege to meet the little girl we sponsor called Fikersalem – I relied upon the charity workers to translate, but her smile really said it all as she showed me her school and her home (made of corrugated iron, stones and mud).

Invitation to a coffee ceremony, a tour of the castles for two people who had travelled from Leicester for the second week and a visit around an Ethiopian Orthodox church including seeing the trainee priests practising singing!!

The Ethiopians revere the priests and particularly the high priests who come and go – during my time in Gondar, I was reading in Hebrews and reminded particularly of those verses in chapter 7 verses 23 – 25.

On the last day, Waqotla Cheneke came to say good bye and have a photograph taken with me – he is the man I taught last year who is an elder at an evangelical church in Jimma (southern Ethiopia) – we do have a tie that binds us a believers.

A busy 2 weeks, illness did strike, but I thank God that it was at times when it wasn’t important. The only real breaks were to eat and sleep so it was good to rest on the plane home after a 14 hour wait at Addis airport.

One day, Joy and I may venture to Ethiopia at the same time! 

Steve Hardy