Saturday, December 19, 2009

En route to... Ethiopia!

You might have already gotten the scoop if you read our 11th issue of our yearly newsletter, Le Cupertino. That is if your read French... Or if you received one of our previous calls for donation related to Alex' project. Tomorrow is the day: I will be leaving from Paris where I stayed for 10 days, and the rest of the group and family will leave 8 hours later, from San Francisco and arrive in Addis Ababa 24 hours after me...
We all packed as light as possible in order to bring as much extra luggage full of school and sport supplies, or tools and computers. The village we are going to, Gara Dima, is not the one that Google Maps knows. It is not on any map actually. The closest you will find of a map is this link to the other village we will be sleeping in, Metehara. It is close to the Awash National Park from which you can have an overview with this short clip. You can also have a feel of where we are going thanks to the pictures posted by Emebet on her association's website, The World Family. Emebet and Joseph will be there to welcome us (they spend their Holidays over there, without their respective families, to visit the hospitals they provide equipment with).

Will I be running in Ethiopia? You bet! But this is definitely not the main goal of the trip. Our goal is to help the village, especially the nearby school which, we have been told, gather 500 students between 6 to 12 year old. They do not have school supplies, no paper, no pen. The group is bringing chalk and enough paint to build 200 blackboards for the students (with wood we'll buy upon arrival in Addis Ababa). After three days in Addis Ababa this week, Friday will be out first day helping out at the school. Friday December 25th, on Christmas day?! Yes and no. Christmas for us but not in Ethiopia which lives on a different calendar. Not our Gregorian, but Julian. See what Wikipedia says on the Ethiopian calendar. And here is a calendar converter to keep up with us over the next three weeks... This Sunday will be April 11, 2002, a nice way to get 7 years younger! Guess what? Now we can even predict the next financial bubble/crisis!!!

For now, here is the list of supplies I've packed tonight (since I had to do the list for the customs, I thought I'd share it with you ;-):
  1. 6 screw drivers
  2. 8 chisels
  3. 6 wood and metal files
  4. 2 pairs of pliers
  5. 2 hammers and 2 mallets
  6. 3 electrical extension cords, 1 power strip, 2 adapters
  7. An assortment of 950 screws and 500 nails
  8. 4 saws
  9. 2 tape measures
  10. 1 plane tool and sharpening stone
  11. 2 pairs of gloves
  12. 1 tool bag
That's for some wood shopping. On the sport side, no, I don't come with a truck load of Brooks running shoes but items on the soccer side to complement the 15 footballs that the rest of the group has collected in the Bay Area:
  1. 2 goal nets
  2. 2 10-football net
  3. 12 team tops
  4. 4 whistles
  5. 2 air pumps and 6 needles
A total of 35 pounds, and I hope Turkish Airways takes good care of my bag (I'm connecting in Istanbul).

Needless to say, with no electricity, no water, no cell coverage, you will not get any news during our 2 weeks in Gara Dima and Metehara. So it's time to wish you Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, lot of fun in celebrating the end of 2009 and all the best for 2010. Talk to you all in the new year, with many news to share. Definitely going farther with this incursion in Eastern Africa! And far from the snow we got this week in Paris...
(From my parents' apartment, views of Paris' roofs and the top of the Eiffel and Montparnasse Towers in the background on the right.)


Julia Harpston said...


Been reading your blog for a good few months now, you’ve really an inspiration to people who wanna get into running like me! I’ve created my own blog about Compression tights and stuff about running and sportswear. Id be really appreciate if I could get a message back and also if you could link to my blog - the name of the blog is Compression tights
your effort inspires me :-D

Jean Pommier said...

Thanks for leaving a note and sharing your story, Julia! I will check your blog when I have more bandwidth upon my return to the (Internet) civilization. Not sure why but some websites are just fine while some others are incredibly slow and that includes the very own Google's unfortunately. Must be the level of JavaScript they are using.