One of the things I pride myself in is being able to think about and analyze my experiences, especially when it comes to those that might lead me to make quick judgements that may or may not be accurate. It's easy to jump to conclusions, but it takes a skill and patience to consider that there are other possibilities, other ways to think about any given situation. Here is an example;
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The other day I was watching a documentary called “Jesus Camp.” The title, I feel, pretty much tells you what it’s about. Basically if follows a few kids and a church leader throughout an Evangelical, summer camp for families, geared towards creating child “soldiers for God” or “Christian wariers.” I think the films goal was to inform the audience so that they can decide whether or not this hard core indoctrination of children in the Evangelical church is a good thing, a bad thing, or neither. I won’t go into detail regarding my thoughts on all of it because it would take too long and would be better suited to it’s own blog, but I will say that after watching I was pretty much bewildered and concerned. That being said, I do recommend it, but I also suggest you watch it with someone you can discuss it with, specifically someone you trust to discuss religion with.
Okay, now on to the point ...
So I’d just watched the film and had all this God stuff roaming through my head. I mean, I was really thinking about it. I had to meet a friend for dinner so I put my shoes on and headed out, still thinking on the matter. I turn the corner to the main street, walk a few meters, and I see this fella, obviously homeless, making a bee line right for me. I think “oh, crap!,” but I am accustom to beggars so I keep walking, thinking about Jesus Camp, and planning on ignoring the guy like I usually do. But when he reaches me he says “ I am a wise man. I am knowing of God.”
I couldn’t help but giggle a little bit because, how fitting, that as I am thinking about all things religious I get a crazy guy telling me he is wise and knows God. I think it’s coincidental and funny, and I am happy that his first words to me were not “Give me money.” I say nothing and continue to walk, smiling to myself, waiting for him to get bored and leave, but he doesn’t. He continues to keep pace with me. “ I am a wise man… blah blah blah… I am a very wise man… blah blah… I am full of wisdom…. Blah blah blah… I am very knowing of god…blah blah” and then, suddenly, he says “I can make you pregnant.”
“Okay, that’s enough of that!” I think to myself and I tell him, in Amharic so there is no misunderstanding, that I’d had enough and to go away right now! I expected him to ignore me and continue to follow me, which is usually what happens, but he didn’t . He said “Okay. Thank you. Bless you. I love you” and he walked off in the opposite direction. “Whew!” I say to myself. “What a relief.”
I continue on my way, and then get to thinking about everything again. I mean, really, he could have meant “I can make you pregnant” in two very different ways. He could have meant, and this was the thought running through my head as he was following me, that he could literally, make me pregnant. Having lived in this country for almost two years, I was no stranger to random dudes wanting to plant their seed in my garden, so to speak, of course this was a natural solution to come to. But then, what if he didn’t mean it literally?
What if he meant, that he could make me spiritually pregnant? Maybe he wanted to fill me with the love of God and share all the secrets of the world with me. I mean, after all, he was a very very wise man and he was very very knowing of god. For all I know he was trying to enlighten the religion-less, heathen, ferenji girl and bring into the every loving light of the good lord and savior. For all I know he was exactly what he said he was and he wanted to make me pregnant with knowledge. I mean, it’s possible, right?
Possible, yes, but not probable. Most likely he did want to have sex with me and impregnate me with his God blessed sperm. He was obviously off his rocker. I couldn’t help but think that maybe if he’d been born in America to a wealthy family he might have been able to start a cult in which dozens of vulnerable, misguided, young women are led to believe that his seed might produce the next messiah. He wasn’t though. He was born poor in Ethiopia, and without the benefit of drugs that might set him right.
The point is, there is more than one way to look at things in the world. Sometimes the alternative to immediate judgements are less anger-inducing and more thought provoking, if not flat out comical. Beats getting pissed off about not-so-fun experiences.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
I would like to thank all of the generous people that have donated to my Peace Corps Partnership grant. When my counterpart and I originally applied for the grant I thought, for sure, that it would take much longer to fund, thusly making my stay here in Ethiopia a bit longer than I’d planned. However, the donations have added up quickly, and I’m very pleased to announce that, as of March 22nd,
$2,722.50 out of the $3,202.50 needed has already been raised! That means there is only a mere $480.00 left to raise!
Thank you all so very much.
With the end of fund raising in sight, I’ve begun to plan the training I will be giving to the local Kindergarten teachers and teacher’s aids. I’m happy to inform everyone interested that I’ll also be able to include school supervisors in the training, giving them the information they need to be able to make sure their KG teachers are utilizing the skills they’ve learned. Without the grant, this whole project would have been much harder, if not impossible, to accomplish.
I’ve been asked several times if it is possible for people to make donations of materials rather than money. The answer, of course, is yes. I’ve created a basic list of items that would be most useful and beneficial. If you are considering sending material donations, there are a few things to consider before you do so.
v It can be quite pricey to send packages here so avoid too many heavy items, consider a smaller package, or get together with a friend to share the cost.
v No electronic items! Electronic items are subject to very ugly taxes. It can be up to the amount the item is worth, so if I can’t afford the tax, the post office will not release the package or any of it’s contents to me.
v If an item you are sending is not on the list below give some thought to whether or not it is a sustainable item. For example, if it breaks, how easy will it be to fix? Can it be used over and over and over again? If it’s a toy, can it be washed easily by hand? Does it require other components or parts that may not be available here?
I will gladly accept any and all donations, but if you have any questions about whether something you’d like to send is appropriate, please don’t hesitate to ask me. You can contact me via this blog, or if you are a Ravelry user, you can send me messages through there. My name on Ravelry is OneSquareBird. If you are a member of the Doubleknit podcast group, there is a thread dedicated to my project in which you can ask me questions as well.
Okay, the time has come. Here is a list of items that we’d love to recieve. They are in no particular order.
1. Books -
a. Hard, cardboard books.
b. Simple picture books with few words.
c. ABC books
d. Any pre-school and/or KG appropriate books
2. Colored pencils
3. Big Crayons (no regular sized crayons please. They break too easily and don’t last very long.)
4. Pencil sharpeners
5. Blocks, tinker toys, linkin’ logs, etc.
6. Easy puzzles
7. Memory games
8. Hi Ho Cherry-o board game
9. Small smocks or aprons (for KG aged kidlets)
10. Wooden toys
11. Outdoor toys (such as digging toys or dump trucks)
12. Posters that can be used for educational purposes (such as the feelings poster that you often see in pediatric offices)
13. Imaginative toys such as animal figures or people figures (please make sure they can be cleaned easily with soap and water. Stuffed animals are a bad idea as they are likely to get very dirty and there are no washing machines here.)
As I said, we will gladly take ANYTHING you’d like to send whether it’s on this list or not, but please don’t hesitate to ask whether something is suitable before you spend the money to send it.
Much love, and much thanks! Until next time!
Monday, March 11, 2013
For those of you who have donated to my Peace Corps kindergarten project, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I was hoping to post an update before now, but my other projects must be seen to as well. Now that I have a few minutes, I thought I’d update everyone on how the grant is going, and I must say it’s going quite well.
The grant requested $3,200 and we have already raised more than half of that thanks to all of you generous donors.
I recently gave my counterpart, the man with whom I am founding the kindergarten, a little computer training so he can check the Peace Corps donations website and track how the grant is progressing. We’ve made him a happy man.
Thanks again everyone! I’ll continue to post updates.
Monday, February 25, 2013
After a long, detailed process, my grant to fund a Kindergarten and Kindergarten teacher training for local teachers has been approved by Peace Corps!
The money raised will fund a quality kindergarten for low income families who cannot afford to send their children to other schools. It will also fund a training workshop for Kindergarten teachers at each of the public schools in my town.
Kindergarten is a relatively new idea here in Ethiopia. It’s only been in the last few years that schools have begun KG programs. Most schools only have one KG classroom, educating approximately 20 students each, leaving most families with only two options, 1) Pay high tuition fees to send their children to private schools, or 2) Don’t send their children to school at all. Unfortunately, most families can’t afford to send their children to private school, leaving many school aged children without the benefit of early education. It’s very common, at least in my town, to see these 5-6 year olds on the streets, alone, or even taking care of younger siblings, while their parents work.
We all know the benefits of early education. We all know how crucial it is, and how success in Kindergarten can mean success throughout a child’s education. That’s why I’m asking for your support with this project. Not just monetary support, as I know times are tough for everyone, but support by spreading the word to others.
The Kindergarten will serve 30 students this year, and will expand to serve 60 students next school term. The grant will provide the funding to make repairs and improvements on the school compound, provide teaching materials for the teachers, toys and games for the students, a computer for record keeping and teaching aid creation.
One of the goals of every Peace Corps program is sustainability. The grant will fund the acquisition of a small Suk (shop) whose proceeds will continue to fund the school year after year. It will also fund a training workshop for every KG teacher in each of the public schools in my town, thusly improving the quality of education for thousands of students.
“Why is the training workshop so important?” you might ask. Well, I’ll tell you. At the moment, KG teachers are only required to have one year of training before being certified to teach Kindergarten. The quality of education is very poor because these teachers do not know how to teach and begin teaching without experience. If the teacher cannot succeed in teaching, the students will not succeed in learning and they will carry that with them throughout their professional and educational careers.
Donating money to any cause can be iffy, as one is never quite sure how money is being spent, or even if the money is getting to those who need it. If ever you wanted to donate but never did for fear of corruption, now is the time to donate without anxiety.
The grant was approved by the United States Peace Corps after a very lengthy, very detailed, planning and writing process. Every dime is itemized and is expected to be accounted for. I’ll be blogging this itemized list on an upcoming blog, so you can see for yourself how the money will be spent. I’ll be posting updates every week, internet permitting.
Here is how you can learn more and donate;
1. Visit www.peacecorps.gov/donate
2. Enter my last name ‘Wymer’ or my project number ’13-663-004’ in the search box.
3. From there you can click on the project name to read more, or you can email the Peace Corps directly with any questions about donating, how grants are selected, or about Peace Corps in general.
4. If you find my project worthy, DONATE!!
5. Share the information! Spread the word! Help educate my kids and teachers!
Every dollar goes a really long way! Please don’t be afraid to ask me any questions. No question will go unanswered. I want to make sure you feel good about where your money is going and how it’s being used, so here are the ways in which you can get a hold of me.
You can contact me by;
· Leaving a comment on this blog
· On Facebook. I’m ‘Berdette Wymer’
· On Ravelry. My Ravelry name is OneSquareBird. If you are a member of the Doubleknit Podcast group on Ravelry, there is a thread dedicated to my project. (Thanks Erin!)
· By email at email@example.com
· Or, if you’re friends with my mom or sister, you can get in touch with me through them.
I’ll be posting updates and more information on my blog, so keep checking in. Until next time, here is a photo of the KG students I’m currently working with. If the grant is fulfilled these are the very students who will make up my Kindergarten’s KG II students next school year. Until next time…..!
Friday, February 1, 2013
With my COS (completion of service) looming in the near future, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I want to do most when I come home from Ethiopia. A few of these things may not mean much to readers who haven’t lived in places where these things aren't possible or available, but they are things that I have missed doing for these last two years. They are things that creep into my dreams, usually very frustrating dreams in which I still cannot do these things. But, now, with the end of my service in sight, I’ve begun to think more seriously about how to go about resettling into my life in The States. This is a list of the top ten things I have planned to do when I get to go home.
1. Eat Super Nachos from Mi Pueblito – Super Nachos with everything with Al Pastor and tomatillo salsa. Either Root Beer or Dr. Pepper to drink, with lots of ice. On the next trip I will have shredded chicken enchiladas, and after that, two ceviche tostadas with a side of guacamole. In my humble opinion, Mi Pueblito (in the Park Falls plaza, near Walmart, in Ukiah, Ca.) is the only place to eat fresh delicious Mexican food outside a Mexican Household.
2. Drink a non-fat, no-whip, iced, hazelnut mocha, at Starbucks and knit for no less than three hours. Realistically I will probably have two or three drinks during this Starbucks knitting extravaganza. There is coffee here in Ethiopia, of course, and it is really really good, but there is nothing like a Starbucks Iced Mocha, and I desperately miss sitting there, knitting, without people staring or pointing or inviting themselves to my table. Oh yes, to be drinking a delicious drink and knitting with a delicious yarn, in public space, without feeling like a dancing monkey. This then leads me to #3.
|Sylvi by Mari Muinonen|
|Burberry Inspired Cowl by Julianne Smith|
Friday, December 28, 2012
Imagine walking down a dirt road lined with various fences. Some made of corrugated tin, others made of small tree trunks and still others made of a hodge-podge of both. Behind the fences you can hear a deep rhythmic thud, thud, thud, and from some wafts the scent of roasting coffee and incense. Finally you reach your co-workers gate, where you’ve been invited for coffee.
While small-talk ensues your coworker is gently rinsing a handful of raw, pale green, coffee beans. She puts the rinsed coffee beans onto a gently curved circular roasting pan and holds it over the glowing charcoal in her stove. She pushes the coffee beans around the roasting pan until they are dark brown, with small bits of pale green still visible. “The problem with American coffee,” she says to you “is that it is burned during roasting. To make it sweet, it must look like this.”
|A Traditional Coffee Ceremony Set Up|
While it’s a lot of fun to do an authentic coffee ceremony with the jebena and everything, I know for most people back home it probably isn’t very likely to happen with the equipment available. So, for the sake of modern convenience I’ll tell you how to brew Ethiopian style coffee at home.
|Clockwise from top - Buna jebena, smoking insence on coal, two cini, sugar pot.|
A small frying pan
A coffee grinder or deep mortar and pestle
A tea pot
As many small tea cups as you need to serve yourself and/or your guests
1 Cup of raw coffee beans
7 Cups of water
1 tsp cloves (optional)
¼ tsp cinnamon (optional)
Give the coffee beans a good rinse and dry them off. Heat up the frying pan and throw them thar coffee beans on. Roast them until they are golden brown. NOT BURNT! NOT BLACK! Just golden brown. It’s okay if you see tiny specks of green still. I’m told that’s part of what makes Ethiopian coffee so good. Let the roasted beans cool. Either pound or grind the beans until they are as fine as you can get them. If you want to add the cloves and cinnamon add them to grinder or mortar with the beans to grind them together. Boil the water in the tea pot, add the coffee and steep it at a low simmer until the grounds sink to the bottom (about 5 minutes). You can check to see if the grounds are settled by pouring a bit of the coffee into a tea cup. If there are a lot of grounds in it, let it simmer until there is less. It’s okay to have a few grounds. There is always a small layer of coffee sediment in the bottom of cini. Pour the coffee and serve with sugar or black if you prefer.
If you didn’t catch my last blog, it’s all about the origin of coffee, so check it out if you’re interested.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Once upon a time in Ethiopia there was a goatherd named Kaldi. He began to notice that when his goats ate the little red berries from a certain bush they’d go all spastic and crazy. Like any person would have done, he tried them himself and he felt GREAT! He took some of the berries home to his wife who popped some in her mouth as well. She liked the affects so much that she made up her mind that the berries were a gift from god. She promptly took the heaven-sent goodies to the monks at the monastery.
|A Caffeinated Kaldi dancing with his goats.|
In the very beginning, coffee was traditionally served with salt, and sometimes even butter. In some places in Ethiopia it is still prepared this way, but sugar is much more common these days.