Not much you might (rightly) say. But I do have some good excuses for this neglect. So good in fact that I have dedicated this entire blog post to them. So sit down, strap in, and hold on, Bolger wants to told ja a few things that have happened over the past few months.
First up, the rainy season ended! Woo-freakin-hoo! As you might guess, this was big news for a first timer rainy season girl like me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for rain in a country that is so reliant on agriculture, but there was an awful lot of it! And little did I know at the beginning of the season most people would avoid being in Addis during this time. And just like that my friendship circle (which I had been developing over the past few months) diminished – quite significantly. But those of us who remained managed to see the rainy season through to the end with a little help of a few late nights/early mornings at this place:
Since the rainy season finished, this country has lived up to its tourism catch cry of ’13 months of sunshine’. There’s a couple of points in that statement that raise the eyebrow, firstly 13 months? Thirteen? And every one of them filled with sunshine? Bah!
But it seems the guys in the Ethiopian Ministry of Tourism marketing department aren’t full of BS or spend their time at long boozy lunches. No, these guys actually base this slogan on fact.
The Ethiopian calendar has thirteen months, twelve of which have 30 days each, and a 13th month with 5 or 6 days (depending if it’s a leap year). The first day of the Ethiopian year is usually September 11 (on the Gregorian calendar). Which means the years are longer and thus why it’s currently only 2007 here!
So that explains the 13 months thing, but surely it can’t be sunny all year round? Well, ever since the rainy season stopped, it’s been nothing but blue sky days for 3 months straight. Even during the rainy season there would be a point in the day where the sun blazed down, usually during my morning walk to work. But since the rain stopped, some days it’s quite a struggle to spot a cloud in the big blue sky. This is a pretty big deal after living in Beijing for almost 2 years and rarely seeing a blue sky in amongst the smoggy haze that hangs over the city.
So with this much sun around there’s been plenty of opportunity for some trips out of town, and hence less time spent on the laptop blogging. Here’s a snapshot of some of the adventures:
Oh and then there was my quick visit to Doha, Bali and Melbourne:
Recently I’ve also been on a few work trips out into the field visiting rural health centres. The purpose of these visits was to make a short video about the impact of one of EMwA’s (the NGO I’m working with) family planning projects. Yes, a video! This was a surprise to me also having never made anything of the type before! I seemed to have found myself in this position after casually mentioning one day that I had a decent camera and could take an ok photo. Next thing I know we find ourselves out in the rural areas of Ethiopia interviewing midwives, health extension workers and Ministry of Health officials about EMwA’s family planning programs they are rolling out throughout the country.
After a few minor hiccups we managed to get some great interviews and are currently part of the way through putting together the short video on the benefits of delivering family planning training to health professionals in rural areas.
In some parts of the country the fertility rate is 7.3! That’s an average of 7.3 children per woman. The contraceptive prevalence rate for married women in these parts is below 2% so there’s much to be done in this area.
However, we did meet some family planning champions in our travels. The woman above is on her 3rd Implanon contraceptive insertion. This is a perfect example whereby her (and most likely her husband/family) have been briefed on the benefits of women spacing their children out, having fewer children, and the benefits of visiting the health clinic for checkups and delivery – yes, it’s very common for women not have any antenatal or postnatal checkups, let alone visit the clinic for the delivery. In fact almost 90% of women in rural Ethiopia give birth at home without skilled birth attendants. This is a dangerous statistic and one of the main reasons behind the country’s high maternal mortality rate. Hence EMwAs work is focused on educating the community about the importance of accessing maternal health care from health professionals.
We have plenty more interviews and footage to take but I will most certainly keep this blog updated with the video’s progress. This project offers such a unique and brilliant opportunity to go and meet the women and men who are out in the communities committed to improving the health and welfare of women, girls and babies, and ultimately the whole community. It definitely beats sitting at a desk writing about these projects (which is what I’m usually doing).
Hopefully the the video will capture just how important this family planning program is so we can secure more funding to roll the project out to more parts of the country. Stay tuned for the trailer!
And in true Bolger fashion, this is where I segue into a somewhat related dad joke.
What do you call your mum’s sister who just had a baby?
~ Aunty Natal