Dangers of Ethiopia

When we first announced our intent to serve in Ethiopia the response from most was the same. Friends and family members expressed serious concerns for our health and safety. We joked with one of our American friends also serving in Ethiopia about the responses you receive when you tell most Americans that you are going to Africa. He felt that you would get less opposition from folks if you told them you were going to Mars than you would if you told them you were going to Africa. We understand peoples’ concerns and we had our own concerns before going. We were prepared for some of the dangers of Ethiopia. We received all of our immunizations to go, most of which were totally optional, we opted. But, now that we are in Ethiopia we are understanding some of the dangers that are here.


Malaria. We don’t have too much to worry about while we are in Addis and Chencha but the possibility is slightly higher while we are in Debre Zeit. We have talked with people there and they assure us that the risk though present is very low. We plan on wearing long sleeves and taking necessary precautions during our three weeks there.


The Water. This danger was a total gimme. No one travels to Africa from America and drinks the water and thinks that everything will be okay. We buy our water and now at the compound we are at we have boiled water to make it safe to drink.


Watch Your Step. During our travels on foot around the city of Addis we have certainly been made aware of the dangers that lie in the “side walks” and walk ways. Open man hole covers, large open storm drains, broken pavement, cars, and of course livestock. Let us not forget what the livestock leave behind as they meander through town. There is certainly danger as you walk around Addis.


Pick Pockets. Let’s be real, you don’t walk around anywhere in American and not keep a check on the cash in your pocket. Crowded conditions lend themselves to the possibility of loosing some cash. We have not had any trouble and take the precautions we would at home.


Toilets. Many days it is a quest to find a toilet that you don’t fear using and there are times that you just suck it up and go anyway (please see “The Rumbles). The toilet we have at our home compound is communal, another thing we miss about the guest house, we had a private sheenta bait (bathroom), but it is always clean. The sheenta bait at the Drop-in Center compound most days is a little iffy since you have street kids going in and out. Oh, and lets not forget, BRING YOUR OWN TOILET PAPER!


Loss of Personal Determination. This danger became real to us this week as Jonathan indulged in a childhood favorite, Fun Dip. He attributes much of the silver in his mouth to his love of Fun Dip. There was some Fun Dip at the office left by a previous visit from some foringe and after a long internal struggle Jonathan gave in (please note the first picture attached to this entry). Jonathan has also, in the almost four weeks that we have been here, on more than one occasion had an orange Fanta!


Questionable Personal Hygiene.  It is Biblically based, but just washing your feet does not mean that you are clean. When the choice is a cold, cold shower or get by another day by washing your feet and “hitting the highlights,” you often go with the later. Jess’s max is about three days. Jonathan on the other hand washes his feet each night and calls it done. His max has been about a week.


The Rumbles. Yes, we expected it and with some of our food choices we praise our heavenly Father that it has not been worse. Jonathan was down for a day this last week with a case of “the rumbles.” It proved to be rather minor and Jess had the opportunity to assert herself and take a taxi alone, for the second time.


Thieves. This is separate from pick pockets because we are talking serious theft. This week we had two mattresses stolen from the Drop-in Center compound. We have heard a lot of talk about thieves and in one way we have felt the personal effects of thievery. It has become obvious that the children and the people of Ethiopia have stolen our hearts (see the second photo for an image of a theif).




  1. Jon and Jess,

    What great information…it is hard to imagine while sitting here in my Sanford home. You are right about our food supply. I met a man from Eastern Europe a few weeks ago and he said when his mother visited him here they went to a grocery store and all she could do was cry because of the abundance. We are truly blessed.

    Since I am a yankee, I don’t understand what the “fun dip” is. I am pretty sure it is not of the tobacco kind…enlighten me?

    Please know we pray for your ministry often and I think of you two every Thursday when I go the Pregnancy center. God sure is busy!

    Prayers and hugs,

    Sean and Adrienne O’Neill

  2. Jon eating FUN-DIP. I love it!! I’m so glad he was caught in the act.

    Much love,

    joe, karyn, jack & mr darcy

  3. Fun dip brings back some good memories! I am sure it is a comfort thing. But Orange Soda?? Will we even know you two when you get back home? God is mightily at work in you as well as Ethiopia.
    Always all our love and support, Mom and Dad

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