Perhaps because some people were trying to wind me up regarding the hostility of the Afar region’s people and climate, my arrival here has been a rather pleasant surprise. The College of Teacher Education out here has simple facilities, but the atmosphere is one of growth and expansion. Things are happening: gardens are being planted, electricity is becoming more reliable, and buildings are being erected.
The people are friendly. Students at the College are on holiday, but there are still a few hanging around the campus and they are keen to talk and say hello. Walking through the town is also a warm experience. People approach and say hello. Quite a few people have been coming up to me and speaking in French. This is because Djibouti is so close and French is the common tongue there. The Afar people around here seem really pleased when I answer them in French and explain that I am Canadian.
The maple leaf is on full display here. The Canadian Ambassador to Ethiopia really came through with a large quantity of maple leaf pins, pens and flags. The staff at the College have appreciated the pins and I am trying my best to promote Canada’s image here.
The town of Asaita’s main road is lined with adobe buildings that house little shops. There is a hotel that has a fantastic view of the Awash River valley. It is literally a desert oasis. It’s green and lush. It has a sugar plantation. There is a ton of wildlife.
My work at the College is slowly getting underway. Today was my first day. I had an introductory meeting with the College Dean. There were some officials from the Ministry of Education in town that I met in Addis Ababa a few days ago and their presence got me into the Dean’s office, and my presence on the campus was legitimised. Funding and resources for my position are coming via the British Council and all seemed content with the route ahead. My plan is to conduct a need assessment next week.
So there are my first impressions of life in the Afar. So ‘afar’ so good.
- Ethiopian troops clashes with Afar rebel (afroaddis.wordpress.com)
- Ethiopia In-Country Training (morenewsfromafar.wordpress.com)