Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday Shopping

Shewaye and Moges
I now have worked out when I arrived in Mota : it was  Saturday 20th of September 2004, exactly a year before I last got married but it really feels like Ive only been here  a few days!  Sunday, my first full day here,  started with  a brief ward round with Fritz, and then leaving him to pack, I decided to climb over the back fence onto the open field  of grass eaten down by cows  sheep goats and donkeys which wander about in small groups, and head past the dwellings on the opposite side to the shops to buy some food.

The view across the Back Fence
I was spotted heading off on my own by Moges, a sweet young man who after a rough start in life has gone to school at age 22 and has hopes of making it to university one day. He lives in one of the overgrown and rundown blocks of units near mine, but his space is a concrete cell just big enough for a bed, and not much more, and so he sits on the floor with a pile of books studying in his spare time. There are common cooking and toilet facilities attached to the block for the other inhabitants of these tiny cubicles, which Moges seems to have been given access to because, for a tiny monthly wage he has responsibility for ensuring everyone has water. When it was connected to a tank his job was to operate the pumps to keep it full, but since the wooden tower holding the tank collapsed, he has had to bring us water in buckets. Apparently for several months now the Tank is going to be replaced next week. Moges is a cheerful and willing worker, and ran across carrying a bundle of empty plastic water bottles tied along a string, and suggested he ought to come with me, and so he did. First though he explained he had to find a buyer for his empty bottles! He got 1 Birr each for them – which amounted to about 45cents in total, enough to buy a few vegetables at least.
Along the wide dusty main street we ambled in the hot sun as Moges did his best to answer all the questions I fired at him about everything going on around us. I walked up to a dense little crowd of young boys playing that table soccer game where you spin horizontal rods to make the wooden soccer players attached knock the ball towards your Goal. I had to encourage them to play on rather than stare at me and Moges.  Further along on the side of the street there was a rickety tennis table but no was using it. A young man with a string of “Scratchies” style lottery tickets approached and after Moges explained what they were, and the cost was 1 birr (ie 6 cents) I decided for fun to buy one. The crowd gathered closer around us as I took the keys from my pocket and made a light scrape across the scratchie – the crowd squeezed in even closer till there was an almost continuous ring of touching heads with mine in the middle, and I looked up – they all sprang back and as soon as I bent over to scratch again they closed in once more as I exposed first one then the other numbers to finally reveal: ….No Prize!  We all laughed!

We eventually bought some tomatoes, green peppers, oranges, 2 limes, a cabbage some rice, atin of milk powder from New Zealand and some little packets of biscuits and returned to the hospital., about 3 dollars lighter. That night I had dinner with Fritz and his wife Anne-Marie – grated boiled beetroot, omelette and boiled rice. They were heading for Addis in the morning by private taxi, and were planning a little sightseeing before returning to Holland. This 5 weeks stay had been their second at Motta and both agreed it had been an extraordinary experience. I thought I knew what they meant but having now started work  I now realize I didn’t really. But I did feel a little nervous at the prospect of being on my own and in charge once Fritz left in the morning.. Apparently Motta Hospital serves the medical needs of over a million people!  Could get busy!

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