Ethiopia seems so long ago. Being white in Addis Ababa was hard. People were very very friendly and about 50% of them probably were just very friendly. But the other 50% wanted something—wanted something from you. And when you are white in Ethiopia you stand out like a sore thumb (or a target) Usually when I am traveling alone, I’m outgoing and talk to friendly locals but this became tiresome as, more often than not, I was being conned into or out of something. By the last day, I had just stopped making eye contact. And I know that many people were still just trying to be friendly.
The next obstacle in Addis Ababa was getting US dollars. I went from bank to bank and ATM to ATM hoping to withdraw US dollars from my American account. I soon learned that it is actually against the law to distribute US dollars. So the next lesson learned: US dollars reign supreme, bring plenty.
Gringa walking the streets of Addis is NOT invisible. When (and I do mean “when” not “if” a local approaches you with this, “Hello, remember me from the hotel? Yes, yes you know me, at the hotel. Today is my day off, please let me show you the city.” Your reply should be, “Oh? What hotel would that be?”
I only heard this 3x in the same afternoon!
I had a five-hour red-eye flight from Seattle to Washington DC and then a five-hour layover in Dulles airport. I arrived at 5:00 AM and spent two hours walking the entire airport: all four concourses, up and down, eager to find the very first coffee shop to open.
Somehow I talked my way into upgrading to business class for the flight to Ethiopia. Amen. Having not slept a wink, I could not imagine sitting upright wedged between two strangers for 14 hours. I’d have rather run another marathon. (And the first one was not pretty.)
Ethiopian Airlines business class is called “Cloud Nine,” and for good reason: A continuous flow of champagne and a smorgasbord of traditional Ethiopian tasties interrupted only by blissful supine sleep.
6 Months, 2 Continents, 9 Countries
Deciding what to carry on my back for 6 months, 2 continents, 9 countries and many cultures has been an adventure in itself.
Thankfully I have Diane and Courtney who have done medical missions in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Indonesia, Uganda, and Bangladesh. Talk about inspiring women!
I certainly sweated the camera question. Especially when three days before getting on the airplane it seized up and wouldn't do anything. That was the day I melted the ice maker, chipped the crown on my back molar and found a dead mouse in my car.
Then there is the teenage daughter who is going to be my travel mate for most of the trip. The shredded skin tight blue jeans and strappy crop top...
In the past decade, more people around the world have died from waterborne illnesses than from all wars combined. The toll is greatest among children and families. Lack of access to clean water reduces community productivity, renders education efforts ineffective, and strains already inadequate health care resources. Facing constant sickness and threat, families cannot plan to improve their lives. They are disempowered.
Friendly Water for the World works with communities around the world who have little in the way of access to resources, except for their own intelligence, resilience, pent-up initiative, labor, generosity, and caring. By sharing their knowledge and providing training in ensuring clean water, they help to end a culture of dependency, enabling people and communities to take charge of their lives. And in doing so, we take charge of our own.
We look for technologies and approaches that are proven, affordable, utilize local materials and resources, are easily teachable, and can be replicated, so that what we do in one community together can be readily spread to others.
We teach people to fabricate, distribute, install, and maintain BioSand Water Filters. BioSand Filters are a low-cost, locally implemented technology that are proven to remove bacteria, viruses, protozoa, amoebae, worms, and heavy metals from the water supply.
By teaching people to build and install BioSand Water Filters, combined with community sanitation and hygiene education, we can reduce and ultimately remove the threat of cholera, typhoid, bacterial dysentery, Rotavirus, hepatitis A, cryptosporidiosis, and other waterborne illnesses.
Friendly Water is an Olympia, Washington-based nonprofit founded in 2010. They currently work in 12 countries, in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, as well as in North America. Outside of North America, most of their work is in poor, rural communities, often ignored by large charities, missions, aid organizations, or by their own governments.
They work with everyone – of all races and religions – Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, animist, or none at all.
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