|Sudhakar Nuti (far left) with the 2012 Ethiopian delegation.|
During the ride from the airport to my guesthouse, my hostess spoke about how the Ethiopian people are “nice.” I had heard about the unique physical beauty of Ethiopians, but having been here for only a week, I can confirm that this beauty extends to and permeates throughout the character of the people. They are not just nice, but are helpful, friendly and considerate, even to a ferengi (foreigner) like me. While it may help that I am on crutches, their warm smiles and genuine concern have made me feel quite welcome.
On my first day, as I walked the dusty streets of Debre Zeit Road, an elderly man with a cane stopped me and said, “Hello! Are you okay?” I gave a smile and a nod, but I was surprised by the concern of this stranger. Both Lexy – my fellow intern from Yale – and I experienced this kindness on our ride to Entoto Hill today. First, a minibus driver drove an extra five minutes to take us to our next stop for free, and then an elderly woman volunteered to serve as our escort and found us a ride to the top of the hill. While we were afraid at first of a scam, it turned out that she was a great guide and a nice woman – although she did seem to trick the driver out of his payment at the end. Even the children have been welcoming, often gathering around us and offering a hand to shake, a big smile, and a friendly Selam greeting.
Our coworkers at the Medical Services Directorate in the Ministry of Health have been taking great care of us as well — continuously giving us food, transportation, and aid in correcting our faulty Amharic pronunciation. Whenever pursuing a large-scale effort, as we are with trying to improve hospital quality here in Ethiopia, it is always helpful to put a face to the issue, and all of the people I have met have provided me extra inspiration in pursuing our work. I just hope that we can make a difference in the short time we are here.