I had a great time when I went to Ethiopia. I was very unsure of what Ethiopia or what Africa held for me as I have never travelled to that part of the world before. The Projects Abroad staff both in Canada and Ethiopia were there for me whenever I had a question and are even still there for me since I have gotten back.
I left Ethiopia feeling that I impacted myself more so then the people around me. I feel like there needs to be a bit more volunteer assistance at some of the placements instead of having the volunteers just sit and monitor the class. I remain forever changed by my experience of going down there and seeing how they live and how optimistic they are about everything.
The Ethiopian food staple is injera which takes some time to get used too as well as how spicy the food is. You can expect that 2 of your 3 meals are Western style foods while your 3rd meal is there style.
I would definitely do a volunteer placement with Projects Abroad again somewhere in the near future. A great thing about Projects Abroad is that after you finish your placement abroad, you become an Alumni member and can help represent the organization and help them with marketing. Also, Alumni members get discount on there next volunteer placement if they go with Projects Abroad. Something you wouldn't find with any other organization like this.
The support staff addressed my needs and I felt like there also could have been better communication with the support staff in the country. I would definitely volunteer abroad again with Projects Abroad and have recommended them to all my friends. It was actually through a recommendation that I first heard about Projects Abroad.
I felt like the program did a significant change with me and that I have looked at life differently and in another perspective. Another volunteer and I stayed in the school's compound and it felt very safe to us. There was always a guard all the time with a AK47 and you can get back late at night from a volunteer dinner and you would be greeted by the guard. Very friendly guy. Felt very safe.
The local community we're very friendly with us white people and would welcome us to a lot of gatherings and people's homes. I felt welcomed everywhere I went. Although there are times when you have to realize that you are outside of your own country and have to respect there way of life by making sure you are not carrying valuables on you.
I don't regret anything from this trip and there was nothing I would of wished I brought with me. A recommendation I have is if you are going down for Christmas time, on Christmas day, go to the orphanage and just sit down for a few hours and play with the children. It is so rewarding to have that experience with children in an orphanage on Christmas Day then to be opening up presents like the rest of the world.
The French volunteer and I stayed at the school which was in a compound. There were rooms for both of us and it was nice to have someone to talk to who was also volunteering abroad and doing the same thing you were. And were there for the same reason you were. I suggest waking up a bit early every morning just before your placement starts and going out into the community and just talking to locals and taking pictures and gathering there scene. I wish that I would have done that instead of sleeping until my placement started every day. Next time I go, I will be sure to do that for myself. It's a life changing and eye opening experience. Social scene is somewhat like ours in the Western World. It was great to go out with other volunteers and meet locals.
Overall, a very good program that will change your life and help you see how others are living in different parts of the world all the while being optimistic about their situation.