Debbie goes to Ethiopia! A VSO volunteer in Assosa. Here is my blog.

Leaving Resolutions December 16, 2014

Filed under: culture — debzif @ 17:51

I had a few ideas for leaving blog posts.  In one I was going to list everything I would miss.  But in this stage of leaving nostalgia, it would have been absolutely everything.  In another idea, I was going to write down the emotions I was feeling at leaving.   But that would have been me naming pretty much every emotion I know the name of.  Not such great blog posts….

A more productive idea, I hope, is this one.  This is a list of things that I’ve learned, experienced and appreciated a lot while being here, and I hope to continue these in my current and future life.  By writing this down, maybe that’ll spur me into action!  I realise some might be culturally relevant, (i.e. speaking to strangers on the tube might get me locked up….) but we’ll see how it goes!

Helping each other out – the amount of times people have completely gone out of their way to help me is ridiculous.  In many cases it was a complete burden on them, but I have no idea what I would have done otherwise.  Being all independent and self-sufficient is fine and all, but sometimes people need help!

Sharing – The people here are so generous, with their time as well as their possessions, no matter how limited they are.  Sharing really is caring.  At first I felt guilty at receiving things I’d never asked for, but one sure-fire way of dispelling that guilt was by reciprocating.  It’s a great way of showing people you care for them.  As well as often making things much more enjoyable and fun!

Greeting and smiling at strangers – strangers are still people!  Perhaps they want to chat, perhaps not.  Perhaps they desperately need help, and need to find someone to ask.  People noticing my confused/helpless/upset expression and looking out for me has helped me in many a case, or at least cheered me up or given me confidence.  A smile and a hello really do go a long way.

Listening to people’s stories – People are so interesting.  And people showing an interest in me and my life is really something.  I think everyone has got something to say if asked and given the time, and there are many hidden stories and battles out there.  I’ve learned so much about people and life just by listening.  I hope to learn and listen some more J

Noticing things – I’ve constantly had my eyes and ears open while being here, and while travelling around.  I’ve found a whole range of things fascinating, and there’s always something new to notice.  Why don’t I do this wandering around my home town?!  I’m sure there’s lots I haven’t  noticed yet!

Doing nothing – haha, perhaps not one for my CV.  But actually, I’ve learned quite well, and now very much enjoy, just sitting, looking, watching and thinking about life, perhaps on my own, perhaps in people’s company.  It’s wonderful!

Being happy – Perhaps easier said than done, but I’ve at least come to realise that there is no correlation really between what you have, and how happy you can be.  I’ve been amazed by the happiness and contentment people can have when from our UK point of view they have very little.  I want to focus less on stuff and things, and more on smiles and laughter.

The belief it’ll all be ok – Ethiopia has this magic power of situations that look impossible, somehow working themselves out right at the last minute.  I’m hoping this magic exists elsewhere in the world too, I’m sure it does.  Just be patient, and don’t despair!


Toodlepip. February 3, 2013

Filed under: pre-departure — debzif @ 14:13

A year ago I applied for this…… That’s a fairly long time to know about it and think about it all.  Yet it’s this last step that is providing me with a whole range of new emotions that I perhaps foresaw, but didn’t register.

I have packed my two bags, and am pretty ready to go!  It’s exciting to see the old rucksack out again ready for use.  What things will I see, what people will I meet, what lessons will I learn, what work will I achieve?   Who knows.  Just gotta get on and do it now, and let the adventure roll out.

Off I go!


Leaving Curry February 1, 2013

Filed under: pre-departure — debzif @ 23:53
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Another wonderful evening filled with great friends and brilliant food – 28 of us filled the conservatory in Dine India in Watford, and ate masses amount of curry.  The restaurant had kindly offered to donate all the food profits from the evening to VSO, so the more we ate the more that went to charity!  Just over £300 was raised from the evening.

It was so nice to see everyone, another reminder of what I’ll be missing for the next while.  But I had a great evening and am getting more and more excited as leaving time approaches – two more sleeps!


Ethiopian Evening January 21, 2013

Filed under: pre-departure — debzif @ 21:14
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Amazingly 58 lovely people came to help celebrate and fundraise at my Ethiopian Evening.  The evening consisted of 6 rounds of a quiz, with a couple of ethiopian questions thrown in.  The table round was a map of Africa and a list of countries which teams had to match during the course of the evening.  I think the quiz gave people something to focus on, but I found it hard to pitch at the right level.  Had a fair amount of feedback that it was pretty hard – I for one would have done pretty poorly on naming the countries!

P1000070 The food of the evening was provided by Merkato – the service was impeccable and the people really friendly.  And as for the food, well, it was delicious!  Injeera, rice and 6 different types of dish to put on top.  Unfortunately one of the catering staff said she had been up all night preparing it, however all I can say is that it was absolutely delicious and more than appreciated by everyone I spoke to!  Interestingly also one of the first things she mentioned was that it was all “very mild” – If that was all mild then I think i’m in for some very spicy food out there for sure! 

The evening ended with a raffle, with prizes kindly given from York Beer and Wine Shop, Leeds City Varieties, Meltons, and Taylors of Harrogate.  Very well done to the quiz winners, (although I called out the wrong team initially, massive whoops!) – interesting the VSO team proved the cleverest!

I had such a great evening, and I’m really touched that so many people came, and some from so far away.  What wonderful friends I have!





New Shoes December 13, 2012

Filed under: pre-departure — debzif @ 09:51

I have some great shoes. More than great. They’re pretty much awesome in every way. They’re not even old or have holes or anything like that. In fact, I’m perfectly happy with them. Privileged even. The only problem is that I knew I didn’t want these shoes forever. And I was itching to find some new ones.

So I decided to go and get some new shoes. The shopping part was exciting, and full of promise and adventure. Who knew what I would get! I finally settled on some, and now, they’ll be ready for me to wear in a few weeks.

The problem is, I forgot, amongst the excitement, that I would have to also get rid of the old shoes. I barely recognised that part of the deal, but now it’s finally registering. Hard! I’m not sure I really want that anymore. I don’t want to get rid of them! They’re so comfy and reliable and familiar. I love them, they’re part of me! It’s really rather painful to have to get rid of them. What if I’m wrong and the new ones are rubbish, or broken, or hurt me?

I can now only try and remember the old shoes fondly, which I will easily be able to do. And also remember the excitement I felt when shopping, and try and predict the promise of the new ones. Maybe the transition will cause discomfort at first, new shoes never quite compare initially, but hopefully, in time, the new shoes will become just as comfy as the old ones.

Old shoes, you have been fabulous 🙂


Changes and exchanges… November 24, 2012

Filed under: culture,pre-departure — debzif @ 15:09

I think it’s important to be aware that moving to another country may be both exciting and scary.  Here are my initial thoughts about what I am looking forward to and what I think I will miss.  I wonder how many will come true!

What I’m looking forward to:

meeting new people, experiencing a different way of life, understanding different priorities and views on life, listening to different opinions about my own culture and country, eating different food, fresh food and fruit, a different pace of life, time to read more, working within a different setting….

What I think I will miss:

obviously family and friends, my work and colleagues, a busy social life, easily understanding the way things work and how to do most things, access to a variety of facilities, multiculturalism, the range of products easily available, being able to communicate easily…

Actually though, part of what I’m looking forward to is being able to see how I will cope with the things I think I will miss.  Some things like missing family and friends will be harder to deal with.  But I think by missing out on some things, I will definitely gain something else, elsewhere.


Preparations October 17, 2012

Filed under: pre-departure — debzif @ 22:04
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Do something every day that scares you…… I often think of this as good advice.

What is life for, if not for living?  Get up, go out, and experience new things.

The only way to be who you want to be, is by being it.