How could I resist the call for a self-starter who is self sufficient, self motivated and looking for an exciting opportunity? A year ago I would not have envisioned myself packing my suitcase for Ethiopia once again but now, after 17 months away from the Horn of Africa, I am pretty much set to leave (Cuso paperwork, medical, vaccination and police checks all in order, sub-let arranged) on January 10th for 10 weeks of sunshine (a second summer, why not?) and new challenges (and why not yet again?). Yes I am indeed excited to be going back to the place I called home for 3 years!
Based in Addis Ababa but venturing to two southern regions of Oromia and Benishangul-Gumz, I will be one of two Cuso International program development advisors supporting the new Cuso International office that is being established in Ethiopia in their development of a 5-year Ethiopia RMNCH (reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health) program in conjunction with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health. I will be involved in SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities), gender auditing, establishing baseline indicators and identifying placement and partnership opportunities. Of course as always I have been alerted to the possibility that “These may be subject to change” once I am on the ground; that goes without saying in this type of development work. It is indeed exciting to be in on the start of what could be a significant contribution from Cuso International and future Canadian volunteers to improve the health status of Ethiopian women and children in these regions. My work will be done partly in conjunction with the Ethiopian Mid-Wives Association, a group I worked with briefly in spring 2013 and I am looking forward to re-connecting with these able professionals. Ethiopia has a very high maternal and infant mortality rate and this program will offer some much needed support to the Ethiopian health care workers who continue to work diligently to improve women and children’s health, despite very challenging conditions.
While I am unlikely to have time to blog about my experiences in ten short weeks, I hope to provide an update on my efforts and the program development once I get home. In the meantime I have a request for your help. Cuso International is Canadian NGO that relies on fund raising to support its volunteer programs and while funds come from several sources, including government and private donors, volunteers are also expected to do their part to raise funds when embarking on a project. In the past friends and family have been generous in helping me toward my fundraising goal and I am hoping that some of you will consider a donation at this time.
It would mean a great deal to me to know you are behind me! As a thank you, I plan to buy everyone who donates, whatever the amount, a beautiful Ethiopian scarf from an Ethiopian NGO that assists women fuelwood carriers to supplement their meagre income by weaving scarves.There are an estimated 20,000 women who scour the hillsides of Addis, gathering fuelwood to sell to support their families, carrying very heavy loads and risking harassment in the forests from men and dangerous animals such as hyenas.
Here are my two scarves. I often receive compliments on them. You can let me know if you want solid or striped and the colour (s) you prefer and I’ll pick one out and send it to you.
To me its a triple crown opportunity – you support Cuso International and a local Ethiopian NGO (through my purchase of their scarves) and you give me a boost of encouragement to do this work. Oh and you also get a scarf and yes, a Canadian income tax receipt for 2014 if you donate by December 31st or a 2015 receipt if you donate in the new year. Why that amounts to a win-win-win-win-win -WOW!
I hope you’ll be behind me as I head off to a new year and a new adventure in 2015. Thanks for reading!
Please note: Opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of the author and not Cuso International