Mengaga! by Brianna Hekrdle

Of all of the 10 perfect days in Ethiopia, today had to be the best. At the very least, it was what we were all waiting for! We piled in the cars and drove to Korke to take part in the anthropometric measurements of school children; which was part of the bigger research project spearheaded by our fearless leader, Dr. Willis, and her PhD student Yirga.

But, the day began with another round of home visits; this time in Korke, a primarily Muslim community. Each group, along with an Ethiopian student, went our separate ways for the morning to experience again food preparation and life in Ethiopia. My partner Pang and I went to a health post with Yirga which serves the community of Korke, which was also an amazing learning experience. Nearly 5,000 people depend on one woman at this health post for preventative care and health education. An amazing and huge job! Meanwhile, the other students were observing beautiful people and families like these:

A family our group visited today, photo credit to Jon Kerrigan.

A family our group visited today, photo credit to Jon Kerrigan. 🙂 

When we all met back up around lunch time, we were invited to a coffee ceremony to celebrate the partnership of UNL, Wollo University, and the middle school in which we were working. The smell of incense welcomed us as the coffee was being prepared in the prolific traditional pot over coals. A beautiful ceremony and breaking of bread later, the school supplies and books we brought to the school were presented to and accepted by the school’s headmaster. It was a gift to see the supplies brought to where they were needed. The school officials even gave us a tour of their new, bright yellow library! Speaking of, they are in need of english school/ text books for elementary and middle schoolers… to fill that beautiful new library. 🙂

After an already great morning, our work with the measurements began!

The children crowding the door to scope out the classroom we took over!

The children crowding the door to scope out the classroom we took over!

For these “anthropometric” measurements, students’ height, weight, and a dental assessment were taken. We set up stations for each, and learned as we went!

Amanda smiling while she measured. :)

Amanda smiling on the job. 🙂

Devon and I doing our new favorite thing... checking teeth! But, we couldn't have done it without Genet translating!

Devon and I doing our new favorite thing… checking teeth! But, we couldn’t have done it without Genet translating.

The materials we used to record dental health.

The materials we used to record dental health. Decayed, missing, and erupting teeth were marked; and a copy of the form was given to the child to take home to the family. 

The best of a few Amharic vocab words I learned today was “Mengaga,” which was the buzzword to get the shy children to open their mouths for our flashlight! Our new, fun word was put to great use. After saying “Mengaga” and a whole host of other Amharic words I’m sure we mispronounced, each student left with some sugary bubble gum and a smile.

We worked until dinner time, putting in an extra long day of highly rewarding work. It’s not even putting down the other days when I say today was really, the best.

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