It was a casual conversation that directed our path towards Ethiopia. I didn’t expect to be making a decision about our plans for the forthcoming year so early. It was only the beginning of March and just one semester into our year in the Republic of Georgia. It still felt like we had just arrived and so a little strange but exciting to be planning for the next year. We had vague ideas but nothing definite. The Sudan was a serious contender as we had decided that if Georgia had fallen through we would have gone to the Sudan with the UK Charity, Sudan Volunteer Program. This involved working in Universities in the Sudan with students who may be studying English or they could be medical or engineering students. You have to pay your own flights and a contribution to health care but you are given free accommodation and a stipend.
We also had vague ideas of staying in Georgia for another semester, until Christmas and then just travelling, possibly picking up some voluntary work en-route, India being my choice of destination.
One of our friends from our TLG cohort had met the love of her life and was planning to get married in Nigeria in the summer and so we thinking about going to the wedding and finding a project to work on in Nigeria and then flying on to the Sudan from there.
However, I was having a meal with another TLG volunteer and fellow blogger after a TESOL conference in Tbilisi and I was debating the pros and cons of our plans with her and then she said “Have you thought about Ethiopia? You would love it there.” She had volunteered at an elementary school in Nasret, Ethiopia during a month long visit in 2010. This school was founded and run by an English woman and her Ethiopian husband Dawit and they worked really hard to provide a quality education for the very poorest children in the area.
I had discussed how we would prefer to work as volunteers with the less privileged population than for those people who could afford a good education. It’s not that we are wonderful people and don’t need money, it is just that at our age we don’t know how long we can do this for and so want to make as much of a difference as we can in the time that we have and to work with the people with a lot of need.
At home I checked out the website, emailed Stephanie about vacancies for summer school. We applied and were accepted and so the Sudan was a natural follow-on from here.
So on July 4th we set off for Ethiopia and then head for the Sudan on 24th August. Sorted.