1 Month In

Lorenzo here with an update. A month has passed since we landed in Ethiopia! This past week has been quite productive and more stable than the last, with house repairs winding down and work picking up. The random power outages and water shortages don’t even really seem that big of a nuisance anymore.

Playing cribbage with Tess during a power outage. You just gotta roll with it sometimes.

We continue to explore our neighborhood and meet new people who live around us. A few days ago, one of our local acquaintances, Nati, said he saw us running during the mornings. He told us one day he would like to join and that he would show us this route with a nice view of the whole town. We took him up on his offer, and so we deviated from our normal route one morning and were treated to an incredible sunrise overlooking Gondar. After that, he showed us this breakfast place which was literally a 2-minute walk from our guesthouse. I think it’s the little things like these that help one feel less like a stranger, despite getting called out by people across the street with ferenji! (foreigner) from time to time.

Our friend Nati showed us this cool route with incredible views. This was midway to the top and we could almost see the whole town already!
Eating ful (mashed fava beans cooked with oil and a variety of spices) for a post-run breakfast was very satisfying, especially because it was so close to our guesthouse. Why bother cooking?

While I usually filled my weekends in Seattle with day hikes in the Cascades, I usually dedicate my weekends here to chores and just relaxing in the house. This weekend, I had put off laundry, so I had a larger than usual batch of clothes, which meant I also had to restring the laundry line to fit all my stuff. 2 hours of hauling water, scrubbing, rinsing, wringing and hanging doesn’t seem too bad, as long as you have a good playlist of music and podcasts (thanks, NPR!).

My washing machine setup on our balcony.

Things at work continue to progress well, and the magnitude of the project, with all its moving pieces, begins to slowly dawn on me. There’s a quite a lot to do! This week I focused on developing Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs, which are documents with specific instructions to guide project personnel as they perform their assigned tasks. Drafting the SOPs gives me a glimpse of how large the scale of work SCOPE has done over the years: I adapt my SOP from an old SOP written by a previous UW fellow from the past project, then I send my draft to the UoG and UW study teams to receive feedback and improve the document, then somewhere down the line… a future UW fellow might take my SOP and build upon it.

The office is a bit livelier nowadays. Throughout this past week, the UoG team reviewed all the applications for our counterpart. There should be a UoG SCOPE fellow within the next few days, and I’m excited for all the teamwork that’s about to happen. Among other things, the UoG SCOPE fellow will provide expertise on topics such as infant nutrition and valuable input on the contextualization of project materials. So pumped!

After having independently reviewed all applicants for the UoG SCOPE Fellow position, key members of the UoG Study Team: (left to right) Dr. Getahun Asres, the co-Principal Investigator, Adino Tesfahun, the Study Manager, and Simegnew Handebo, the Field Coordinator, come together and discuss to create a shortlist of applicants to be interviewed.

This week was also a little special since we had visitors from UW. A short-term summer class focused on Maternal and Child Health Programs in Ethiopia composed of 11 undergraduate students led by Dr. Daniel Enquobahrie and graduate TA Leah Neff Warner came for a few days to tour the hospital and learn a little bit about SCOPE. It was intriguing to talk to the undergrads, who were mostly Public Health majors, about their reasons for taking this class, and the conversations allowed me to reflect on my own personal and professional journey with Public Health.

Adino giving the class a brief history of SCOPE and the LAUNCH project.
Tess and I (front row) joining the class for a dinner at the Four Sisters Café. The class was led by Leah and Dr. Enquobahrie (second row), and this was its pilot implementation!

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