A Day in the Life of a SCOPE Fellow

Elizabeth here- Sheldon and I have now been in Gondar for about a month, and we are settling into a steady work routine. This is a typical day:

In the morning, Sheldon and I wake up to energetic birdsong right outside our windows. The guesthouse where we live is peaceful in the mornings- with shade from the tall trees and quiet beauty before we head out the front gate and into the bustling neighborhood.

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We can make a simple breakfast in our little kitchen, or go out, down the street and around the corner, for our beloved foul, the spiced fava bean mash on bread that always hits the spot.

After breakfast, we head to Dr. Getahun’s office at the University of Gondar, where we settle in for the days’ work. Right now, I am working closely with the FLAME project manager, Adino (FLAME is the research study run by SCOPE). Over the coming weeks and months, Adino and I will be personally visiting and assessing dozens of rural Health Centers, many of which will be included in the latest SCOPE/FLAME project. Some of the Health Centers are very remote, and we want to make sure our survey tools are well prepared and precise so the visits can be effective.

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Adino and I preparing for the upcoming rural health center visits

When we break for lunch, Sheldon and I usually head to a small café a few minutes from campus. The café is usually packed with Ethiopian medical students, chatting and eating injera with delicious stews and sauces. Fortunately for us, the café has an espresso machine and a pool table too!

After work finishes in the afternoon, we walk back to the guest house, often stopping to pick up fresh mangoes or eggs from the market. If we are in the mood for a longer walk, there is an alternate route that offers spectacular views of the city.

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Gondar is hilly- and particularly green this time of year

When we have electricity, we can cook on our little two-burner stove. Our latest efforts have included pasta with vegetables, rice with shiro sauce, and eggs (every way you can imagine!). I carve out time at least once a week to wash my clothes by hand, which I find very meditative. I got used to washing my clothes by hand several years ago when I was in the Peace Corps- but there I had to haul my water from a well, whereas here we have running water. The spigot in the outdoor washing station feels downright posh!

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Washing clothes by hand

It gets dark at about seven, and Sheldon and I may spend our evenings catching up on work projects, watching a DVD, of just enjoying a good book. I try to do a bit of knitting or crocheting every day, much to the delight of just about any Ethiopian friend or co-worker who catches a glimpse. Several people have told me that my crocheting skills would make me quite sought after here as an Ethiopian housewife!

I go to sleep looking forward to what the next day may bring. Every day brings some sort of new adventure, whether it be greeting a wide-eyed child in Amharic, or searching the market to find a needed spice or kitchen tool. I love the pace of life in Africa and am happy that I can be here using my skills for SCOPE.

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