New Friends in Addis

(Early July)

Hey everybody!! How is everybody at home? I read on KSL’s website that all of Utah is on fire!! Wow, I hope everybody is ok. Sounds like people need to be a little more careful with their firework celebration:)

This week has been new adventures for me. First of all, wow, what a contrast! I have gone from the desert villages to the high altitude cattlefarms, and now I am now in the biggest, dirtiest city you could ever imagine! It is really awesome though. I am living with a group of 20 boys who are former “street children” that is, boys who’s families could not care for them because of different economical reasons. They were turned out onto the streets of Addis and thats were a guy named Jason Burton finds them. He takes them into his program, which is called Yahewot Ray….meaning in Amharic “vision of life”. He cares for the boys, which often come into his program very hardened by the roughness of life on the streets of addis. They are all very special boys. They all care for eachother, and me very much, and I am amazed at their humbleness and willingness to help me with everything. Its been really fun living here with the boys. We play lots of soccer, catch, card games, and recently built a blackboard for a nearby school!

Addis itself is the most interesting, crazy place you could ever imagine. It ranges from skyscraper hotels in the rich bole area, to the slums chuck full of people living on top of eachother in tin sheds. The marketplace is the craziest of all. Markado is located in the city of addis, and is famous as the largest open air market in the world. Getting through the crowded place is nuts. Pickpockets are experts and a couple days ago they got my friend Jote’s phone out of his pocket while both of us were looking!! We never caught them.

It is really something you would see in a movie. As you walk down the endless isles of tents and huts its like a maze. Spices (especially ethiopias specialty berberi) piled head high, with gold and silver bracelets and necklaces spread out on blankets. Huge piles of potatoes, cabage, beets, corn, and every fruit imaginable. As you walk, people try to shove their products on you. Its crazy! I wish i could look in every direction at once. Clothing stores, (as I found out) appear as one small shop in the entrance, but can actually go as far as 300 yards back, with each store taking a 5×5 yard square. It builds a huge tunnel! It sure pays to have the street boys as your guides. These boys know every nook and cranny of this huge city. They wind through backstreets and under bridges, and while i am hopelessly lost they never mess up. We had to find a hospital a couple days ago, and after over 3 hours of winding through backstreets and alleys, dodging the wild dog packs, we finally arrived, exactly where we were supposed to go. The boy that was helping me said “don’t worry, I know every place” ” I slept under that bridge for 2 weeks at one time” “that resterant owner is nice, he used to give me the leftovers”Typical Addis

Addis is a whole city full of computer hackers, some of which put the ones in the U.S. to shame. The music here is super cheap, and dvd’s run for 25 birr each (just over a dollar fifty). Its common to have somebody get up and walk through your “movie” halfway through though.

To get around here, you simply hail a “taxi” or a small bus. The “doorman” yells out of the door where the taxi is heading. He is also in charge taking your money as you are driving. The idea for the taxi drivers is to get as many people into one bus as possible, so it becomes jam-packed very quickly. Traffic rules are a laughing matter here. There are no lights at intersections, no lines. It doesnt seem to matter which side of the street you drive on:) drivers are EXTREMELY skilled. I have not seen an accident yet.

The language spoken by the people in Addis is Amharic. Amhara peoples trace their roots back to the christian orthodox church, and their language is considered Semitic, descended from the ancient monastery language ge’ez and closely related to Hebrew. It also uses many Arab words and cultural references. The most common greeting is “Salamno, endeno?” ( hi, how are you?) a common answer is “ezxevier yammasgan dahnanan.” (thanks to god, i am fine). It has been very hard for me to catch onto, because the sounds are very difficult for my tongue to say!! It is also written in symbols, with each symbol standing for a syllable. For example the first symbols of the alphabet are ha,hee,hoo,ha, he, heh, and h. There is symbols for each syllable possible. People are very proud of their tribes. There are little religious clashes, Muslims, Jews, Christians, all live very close together. The tensions come with the tribes. The Oromo people sometimes feel underrepresented in their government, and that is where the clashes come. But in the city especially, tribal boundaries and customs are often forgotten as everybody lives together.

The boys I am living with are extremely good friends already. They range from age 10 to 20, representing three different tribes. Amhara, Oromo, and Tigrina. They all look out for the “forenji” and I have a great time teaching English, basic carpentry, and other projects we have going on.

Well, hope that gives everybody some info of where I am and what im doing. Im having a great time and I really love Ethiopia. Keep emailing me, I love to hear from home.
Love you guys!!
Awmesaganawlo (amharic, thanks!!)

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