Projects Abroad in Ethiopia: Arrival Procedure in Addis Ababa
Most volunteers fly into Bole International airport in Addis Ababa either late at night or early in the morning - make sure you've got a warm jacket, Addis is over 2400m above sea level and night time temperatures are surprisingly cool! After a short walk off the plane through to the arrival lounge, you will be greeted by a Projects Abroad member of staff.
Should you arrive late at night, you will travel by taxi to your host family where you'll be left to rest for the remainder of the night and you'll have the opportunity to take a well-earned hot shower. You will then spend the following morning with one of the staff getting to know Ethiopian culture and how things work in Addis Ababa, before heading out for a traditional Ethiopian meal for your first taste of the ubiquitous Injera!
If you arrive early in the morning, you will be taken to a hotel where you will be left to rest for a few hours until a Projects Abroad member of staff will take you to our local office. You will be able to meet the rest of the local staff before your induction, where you will be shown around Addis Ababa.
Volunteering in Ethiopia: Orientation and Induction
After a filling meal, you'll be taken on your induction tour of the city. All the normal stops are included - you'll be shown where to change your money, the post office, important landmarks and internet cafés - yes they do exist, even in Ethiopia! The staff are keen for volunteers to see as much as possible, so they may even find the time to take you to visit a museum or to learn about the different tribes and origins of Ethiopian society.
At the end of the day, you'll be taken to your host family. Our host families are mostly middle class Ethiopians living in their own single-storey family homes throughout the city. Initial introductions will probably take place over a traditional coffee ceremony, so you'll learn about this aspect of the culture, and get the chance to savour the taste and aroma of arguably the best coffee in the world.
You will then be left to have dinner with the family and settle in. Ethiopians eat lots of meat - mainly beef and chicken in a variety of different spicy stews called wot. There are always a huge variety of dishes available at each meal, including vegetables, lentil stews, wots, and salads - all of course heaped generously atop your injera.
The following day you will be taken to your placement. Most volunteers live near enough to the placement to walk to work, however some volunteers will have to take public transport. Either way a member of staff will show you the way, pointing out local landmarks.
Blue-and-white painted minibuses - public taxis - are the quickest and most popular form of public transport, and they go everywhere in Addis. They also stop anywhere - all you have to do is put your hand out to halt one, and remember to shout "waraj!" - "stop!" - nice and loudly when you see your destination! There are also plenty of blue-and-white painted Lada taxis all over the city.
Coming from an increasingly isolated western culture, you'll be amazed at the friendly and generous nature of all Ethiopians; Ethiopian hospitality really is mind-blowing, and you'll no doubt have offers of meeting up for a coffee coming out of your ears, since it's considered very cool to have a ferenje - or foreign - friend!