Week 5 Part II: Nothing Wasted

27 06 2012

by Berhan Hagos

These last few days I have been thinking: if I had a conversation with a few people each day I don’t yet know, every place would start to feel like home and every conversation an opportunity for growth. One of the lessons I am learning is that location is just the venue for the extraordinary exchanges that take place between the people who happen to meet there. These conversations can be spontaneous or structured, as it is in my case, since my exposure to these conversations is interviews. During my last few days in the field (Asco and Birchiko area) recruiting and conducting interviews, I had the pleasure of engaging with people from all walks of life in their respective environments. I spoke to a woman as she fed her child and another as she washed clothes, a hairdresser as he opened shop and a tailor as he mended a shirt. These people, and many more invited me into their homes and shared their time with me. I learned from them of the different levels of HIV/AIDS awareness and exposure within their community. I also found that many of them felt that women were most affected by stigma because they are more closely bound to the community and rely on the support of their families.

Walking through the forest in Asco

To reach some of the more secluded parts of the community, I had the opportunity of either walking around the Asco forest or walking through and across it. I, not willing to pass up the opportunity for a hike chose to go through the forest. Although it was maybe a 30 minute hike, it is unbelievable how refreshing it was. Even though I love how busy and lively most parts of Addis Ababa are, I was craving something a little more serene and the Asco forest was that get away. For those brief minutes I was absorbed by the sights, stillness and silence. Near the end of the hike, as a small cluster of homes was coming into sight, I noticed there a very strong scent which I could not quite put my finger on. I asked Elias what it was and he simply pointed to a large mass of fur on the far right that I had failed to notice. Apparently there is a population of hyenas in the forest and one of them had died recently. So on my way to conduct interviews I also had my first sighting of a hyena.

One of the interviews I had on the other side of the forest was with a woman

Finding a new use for plastic bags.

who worked as a custodian for the city. She is one of the few people I have ever met who truly believes in and practices recycling and reusing. Her creative take on how to make use of all of the discarded materials around the city was truly inspiring. She has developed a method of making coin pursues out of plastic bags using elaborate designs. When she first showed me I could not believe what she was able to do with what most of us would consider trash. As she said, nothing should ever be wasted. It just takes some imagination and a lot of effort to leave nothing unused.




One response

27 06 2012

Wonderful work, imagery and experiences Berhan – thanks for sharing!

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