July 16, 2012

The People of Ethiopia

Sudhakar Nuti (far left) with the 2012 Ethiopian delegation.
Sudhakar Nuti,
2012 GHLI Fellow

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.

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