Monthly Archives: September 2012

Editor’s note

by Janet Lee (Emdeber 1974-76)

Typically, we close an issue of The Herald with news of Ethiopia and Eritrea and a series of book reviews. Most of the news pieces are serious; a few are done in fun. A little over a week ago, we received news that merits special mention and deserves to stand on its own, upfront, “above the fold”: the passing of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The reporting of an event as significant as this must be handled with skill, balance, and honesty. Who better to do this than Barry Hillenbrand (Debre Marcos 1963-1965)?  He is a master in his craft. Agree or disagree, this is a thought provoking essay and leads this issue of The Herald.

In just a few weeks, 100 E&E RPCVs “Return to Ethiopia.” The State Department has sent assurances that there is no cause for alarm because of the recent events, but as always, care needs to be taken and travelers need to be registered for alerts. Some RPCVs have had opportunities to go back to Ethiopia one or more times for business or pleasure. For some this is the first time since they left their sites after their close of service. There is a tab on The Herald website (Return to Ethiopia) that links travelers to important information about the journey. E&E RPCV also has a very active Facebook page, where travelers are checking in with each other about last minute details.  Didn’t know about the Facebook page?  This link will take you there:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/120114451456889/  or just key in Ethiopia & Eritrea Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in the Facebook search box. Although most of the traffic on the page is currently about the Return, feel free to ask questions or post comments that might be of interest to the entire group. There are currently only 91 members belonging to this group. Please spread the word.  Once again, thanks to Marian Haley Beil for setting up and administering the site.

A current Volunteer sent me this link to a video produced by some very talented PCVs: I am Ethiopian. Although the technology may have changed since we were there, it is apparent that Ethiopia has touched many of these Volunteers as much as it touched many of us RPCVs.  Take a look and be moved:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LIhl6gEx1U&feature=youtu.be

It should not come as a surprise that the recent book about Sargent Shriver, A Good Man: Rediscovering my Father, Sargent Shriver, by his son Mark Shriver, would mention the Peace Corps, after all Sargent Shriver founded and served as the first director of the Peace Corps. It comes as no more of a surprise to E&E RPCVs the importance of Peace Corps Ethiopia as is related in the book by this exchange at the funeral of President John F. Kennedy:

According to Dad’s former colleague Dr. Joe English,

“It was the largest gathering of heads of state ever, and Angie Duke, the chief of protocol at the State Department, asked Sarge to greet them.

Sarge said yes, and then he asked me to grab a box of Mass cards. I got one just before they were taken to St. Matthew’s Cathedral for the funeral Mass. I gave them to Sarge.

The first person he greeted was Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia, who was just over five feet tall. Selassie was crying when your dad handed him the card and said, ‘Your Majesty, I want this card to be a memorial of President Kennedy, who loved your country very much.’

Selassie said to him, ‘President Kennedy needs no memorial in our country because he has three hundred of his children working there today,’ a reference to the Peace Corps volunteers.” (pg.22)

I am sure that most E & E RPCVs have their own stories about His Imperial Majesty, after all nearly every building, school, or hospital was named after him or a member of his family. My personal memory was being in Addis Ababa on the day of his overthrow.

Doug Eadie (Addis Ababa 1964-67) “finds” Haile Selassie once again on a return trip to Ethiopia after connecting with two of his former students.  He has written extensively about this trip in a blog and offers us a short reflection in our Journeys section on “Finding Haile Selassie.”

One of my most memorable experiences in Ethiopia was rafting on the Awash River, organized by James McCann (Burie, Gojam, 1973–75).  Jim has returned to Ethiopia many times and currently is working on a project related to malaria.   For a quick update on the state of malaria in Ethiopia today, check out the Projects section.   Perhaps you have your own personal malaria story that you can share with him.

Can you imagine young, confident Ethiopian girls striding across a college campus chanting, “Girls leading our world”?  Current PCVs in Ethiopia who were Camp counselors for their summer project surely didn’t expect to see this either when the girls arrived for the Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) experience.  Paul Voigt (Shambu 2011-)  provides us with a bit of history of the camp and a delightful overview this past summer’s camp experience.

Is there life after Peace Corps? Do we look for employment or seek out additional education? How do we capitalize on the knowledge and experience that we have just received through our years of service? Danielle Hoekwater (Mekelle 2009–11) shares her experience as a Peace Corps Fellow and guides new RPCVs on the ins and outs of both the Fellows program and other educational options in our section on Opportunities.

Tewodros Fekadu signs his book for Janet

One of the great benefits of being a librarian is that I have so many opportunities to meet authors and be exposed to their stories both in print and in person.

This past summer I had the opportunity to meet two authors of Ethiopian heritage:

Tewodros Fekadu, No One’s Son, and Marcus Samuelsson, Yes, Chef. Nothing endears you more to someone from

Janet and Marcus Samuelsson

another culture than to speak to him in his own language.

We also review Peace Corps Experience: Write and Publish Your Memoir by Lawrence F. Lihosit and Hope is Cut by RPCV Daniel Mains.  Thanks to Shelley Tekeste (Mekelle 2009-11) and Robert E. Hamilton (Bahar Dar 1965-67) for writing reviews of these books.  I am always looking for reviewers and recommendations of books to review.  I will make every attempt to locate a copy of the book for you to keep. Contact me at: janet@ethiopiaeritrearpcvs.org .

Godspeed to all of our travelers.  How I wish I could join you on this adventure!

News of Ethiopia

An Abrupt End of an Era

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi dies. The struggle for stability and power begins.

by Barry Hillenbrand (Debre Marcos 1963–1965)

Meles Zenawi

Nothing so perfectly characterizes the life of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as the emotions, ambiguity, confusion and mystery that surrounded his death on August 19th. Meles was a complex man. The reaction to the news of his death in a Brussels hospital was just as complex.

Mourners in Mekelle

He was openly mourned by wailing crowds in Addis and many other cities and towns across Ethiopia, especially in the north of the country and in the Tigray community. He was the man who brought down the hated regime of the brutal Derg in 1991 and ushered in a period of relative — if uneven and imperfect — prosperity, political stability, and economic growth. He did good for Ethiopia, especially for those within his party and his ethnic group.

But elsewhere in these same towns and villages, in a far less public manner, the death of the man many called the dictator was welcomed. Fewer people in the Amhara and Oromo community shed tears. In many parts of the large expatriate community of Ethiopians in Europe and North America, Meles’ death was greeted with relief and occasionally with joy. He was the man, they said, who clamped down on political freedom, suppressed free speech, muzzled the press and sent many Ethiopians into a forced exile. He ruined the country.

And, of course, there was the mystery surrounding the circumstances of his death. For several months, it was widely reported — but never confirmed — that Meles, 57, had been ailing. He completely disappeared from view about two months ago, but the government, in the way of autocratic regimes, blithely assured all questioners that the Prime Minister was well and just resting. His death, when announced by the government with a kind of North Korean transparency, took place “abroad” and from a “sudden infection.” His body was flown back from Belgium.

Abruptly changing leaders is always a risky, and for Ethiopia, an unfamiliar business. Since Haile Selassie was crowned emperor in 1930, Ethiopia has had only three rulers: the Emperor who was deposed in 1974, the hated Minguistu Haile Mariam (1974–1991) who headed the Communist junta of the Derg, and Meles (1991–2012). Yet despite considerable nervousness, the period immediately after Meles’ death has been quiet and peaceful. The announcement of Meles’ death also declared that

Hailemariam Dessalegn

Hailemariam Dessalegn, 47, the relatively obscure deputy prime minister and foreign minister, was next in line and would immediately become acting Prime Minister. He would be confirmed as Prime Minister by Parliament in a day or two, the statement said. No problem. Yet the vote was soon postponed to allow, it was said, those deputies attending the funeral of Abuna Paulos, the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Church who died a few days before Meles, to return to their duties. Or perhaps the delay was designed to get the political élite of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, Meles’ party, time to decide whether Hailemariam, a non-Tigrayen from the South who trained as an engineer in Finland and did not fight with the guerrilla movement, was really the man to lead the nation until the next promised election in 2015. But it is hard to believe that a party as disciplined did, as the TPLF (think the Stalinist/Albanian model) did not prepare for this transition once Meles took ill. But then again it is difficult to believe that there is not intense internal struggle within the party now that its dominant figure is gone. And for those opposed to Meles and his TPLF, this may be the time to move.
Meles will leave a big hole both in Ethiopia’s political life and in international affairs.

Meles, born in Adwa, dropped out of medical school to join the rebellion against the Derg. In 1991 when rebel forces entered Addis, Meles at the age of 36, found himself leading the new government. Meles was smart and well read. He earned a correspondence degree in economics from the UK’s prestigious Open University after becoming Prime Minister. Despite all those years in the mountains, he was an intellectual. But as the world learned from the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, intellectual revolutionaries can be dangerous.

Minister Meles had definite ideas about governance and development. To deal with Ethiopia’s many ethnic groups he rearranged the country into ethic regions giving them extensive self-governing powers, even the right to secede, although none has dared take that drastic step. Some critics believe this multi-ethnic policy — a kind of ethnic federalism — has been a disaster emphasizing the ethic differences, rather than smoothing them over in an attempt to build a single nation. By playing the various groups against each other, Meles was able to leverage political power to his minority Tigray people to control the nation. Amharas and Oromos were frozen out.

He also had firm ideas about economic development. He encouraged foreign investment, built export industries like cut flowers, expanded infrastructure including an ambitious road network, increased the number of schools (although not the quality of teachers), and encouraged private business which had, of course, been forbidden under the previous communist regime. From 2000 to 2010, GDP grew on an average of 8.5 per cent a year. Food supplies increased to nearly self sufficiency. The British Department for International Development reported that since 1991 the Meles party has “consolidated a capable government that is demonstrably committed to addressing poverty with an impressive record of pro-poor spending, sound financial management and a strong commitment to fighting corruption.” That cannot be said of many African governments.

Meles himself was an unsmiling, wonky bureaucrat, not a kleptomaniac, not a self-indulgent megalomaniac. He lived a modest life style with no villas in France, no flashy collection of cars in Britain. For this, and his keen mind and considerable personal charm, he became the darling of Western leaders desperate for good news from Africa. Bill Clinton praised Meles as the leader of a new generation of African leaders. Meles was a regular invitee to represent Africa at G8 meetings, most recently at Camp David. As a development guru, Meles talked the talk and even did some of the walk right.

Overlooked by Western leaders was Meles’ appalling human rights record. He was a charmer in Geneva and London. He was a stern, even brutal, autocrat at home. In 2005, Meles decided to fight an open election. The campaign and balloting were largely free and honestly conducted. A coalition of Opposition parties scored impressive results. They swept all 22 seats in the city council in Addis, including the mayor’s office, and won nearly 45% of the seats in Parliament. Meles was shocked and the Opposition giddy. Both sides overplayed their hands. The Opposition claimed the election had been rigged and refused to take their seats in Parliament. They claimed they had won a majority. Instead, they took to the street with protest marches. Meles cracked down hard. More than 200 people were killed in the riots that followed. He arrested opposition leaders and put them on trial for treason. They were, naturally, convicted and tossed in prison — later to be released after signing documents repenting. Many went into exile. Some still languish in prison.

When elections came around again in 2010 Meles was not about to be surprised and defeated at the polls again. Using strong-arm tactics of patronage and brutal coercion, he won a stunning victory at the polls securing an astonishing 99% of the seats in Parliament. He silenced the press, arresting journalists and trying them for terrorism. Recently the journalist Eskinder Nega and 23 others were convicted of terrorism. His crime: suggesting that someday an Arab Spring might come to Ethiopia. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Opposition leaders were again arrested. Speaking out against the government was a risky business, which could land people in jail or starve a region of government development funds. Some critics say food aid was withheld from regions hostile to Meles’ policies. Don’t expect a new road or a new college in your district if someone — including the voters — has been opposing the government. Many in Ethiopia resented Meles, but were silenced when they spoke out. The government literally owns all the print presses capable of printing newspapers. Meles’ strong-armed tactics were loudly criticized by human rights groups abroad. But they worked for him. “Authoritarian developmentalism,” his supporters called it.

Meles was respected by his peers in Africa. The African Union, which is based in Addis Ababa and just moved into a new $200 million headquarters building that Meles convinced the Chinese to pay for, issued a statement saying that “the death of Prime Minister Meles has robbed Africa of one of its greatest sons.” Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said, “Meles Zenawi was an economic transformer; he was a strong intellectual leader for the continent.”

The Somalis and Eritreans were not as gracious, of course. Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bloody and costly war in 1999, a craven misjudgment by Meles. Eritrea remains a fierce opponent even though renewed fighting seems unlikely. Ethiopia has sent troops into Somalia several times in vain attempts to end the anarchy that has ruled for decades. Meles’ willingness to join with Washington in its fight against the Islamists of al-Shabab has won him friends in America. The U.S. uses bases in Ethiopia to launch attacks, including drone strikes, in the Horn of Africa. And Meles had been rewarded with aid and support for his steadfastness to the anti-terrorism cause. Less than a week after Meles’ death, President Obama was on the phone with Hailemariam.

For all of Meles’ accomplishments, Ethiopia remains a desperately poor country, less poor than when he came to power, but still desperately poor. Whoever attempts to take Meles’ place — whether it is Hailemariam or some other party operative from the shadows the TLP — he or she (yes, Meles did much for women’s rights during his time) will have a big task awaiting. Meles made a beginning. Lots more remain to be done beginning with, for example, respecting human and political rights.

Journeys

Finding Haile Selassie

By Doug Eadie (Addis Ababa 1964–67)

EMPEROR HAILE SELASSIE I, “Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah,” had been dead for almost 40 years when I returned to Ethiopia this past May for my first visit since returning to the United States in 1967 after three years as a Peace Corps teacher at Tafari Makonnen School in Addis Ababa. In 1967, His Imperial Majesty had seemed the very embodiment of the proud spirit of this exotic, never-colonized kingdom, but on my return I found that the Emperor had apparently become a dusty relic of ancient history to the great majority of Ethiopians.

Haile Selassie might be largely forgotten now, but my Ethiopian friends Berhane Mogese and Tesfagiorgis Wondimagegnehu and I encountered him often as we traveled around Addis during my visit

One of the Emperor’s uniforms

this past May, even though we hadn’t consciously set out in search of the late Emperor.  For example, we found the Emperor at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies at Addis Ababa University, where Ato Mammo Haile, who’d been a member of the Emperor’s household staff and was now in his 80s, proudly showed us uniforms that Haile Selassie had worn, and where Tesfagiorgis and I posed for the camera before a photograph of the Emperor at his most majestic.

The tombs

And we found the Emperor at the beautiful Kiddist Selassie (Holy Trinity) Cathedral, where an elderly Ethiopian Orthodox priest who had seen the Emperor worship at the cathedral many times showed us the tombs of Haile Selassie and his wife, Empress Menen, and the ornate thrones where the Emperor and his Empress sat during Mass at the cathedral.

Where the Emperor and Empress worshiped.

Every encounter with His Imperial Majesty during my visit brought the Emperor vividly back to life in our minds, so he was very much with us in spirit during those ten days, which isn’t surprising when you realize how large he’d loomed in our lives back in the 1960s. Since Haile Selassie was such a constant and vivid presence as Berhane, Tesfagiorgis, and I toured Addis and enjoyed many meals of injera and wat together, we naturally spent a lot of time talking about the still-mysterious, endlessly fascinating ruler who’d sat on the throne of Ethiopia for almost a half century — and pondering his place in Ethiopian history and his contribution to Ethiopia’s economic and social development.  As I think about our discussions over those ten days, some highlights stand out in my mind.  First and foremost, the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah was not only a masterful politician, he was also a true statesman, in the sense that he was genuinely and passionately committed to Ethiopia’s modernization — certainly technologically and economically speaking, although his commitment to social and political development is more questionable. However, we agreed that it would be a mistake to idealize or romanticize the Emperor, who was, in fact, an absolute feudal monarch who didn’t brook dissent and never hesitated to have opponents of his regime imprisoned and even hanged in public squares.

But in stark contrast to the dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, who was a brutal and systematic destroyer of human capital responsible for the imprisonment, torture, and execution of thousands of educated Ethiopian youth, Haile Selassie made a tremendous investment in education, which of all development tools was probably closest to his heart.  Tesfagiorgis and Berhane along with many of their compatriots will never forget receiving their university diplomas from the hands of the Emperor himself.  As it turned out, Haile Selassie’s deep faith in education and the high priority he placed on expanding educational opportunities in Ethiopia are somewhat ironic, since many, if not most, newly educated Ethiopians had by the mid 1970s become vocal critics of the feudal monarchy and  certainly played a major role in bringing the Solomonic line to an end.  And what most saddened us as we reflected on the Emperor’s legacy during our many long discussions during my Addis odyssey was Haile Selassie’s failure to lay the foundation for an orderly transition to some kind of representative government after his death.  In the end, apparently, he was so enmeshed in the absolute feudal monarchy that he was incapable of reaching out to, and building an alliance with, the new educated class that he had created and that might have led a peaceful, post-monarchical transition.  Instead, the Emperor became an isolated, out-of-touch leader, leaving a vacuum that the astute Mengistu Haile Marian so adroitly exploited, at a horrific cost to Ethiopia.

You can read more about Doug’s return to Ethiopia at http://www.dougeadie.com/blog/

Projects

Malaria in Ethiopia

by Jim McCann (Burie, Gojjam 73–75)

ETHIOPIA’S MALARIA IS QUITE DISTINCT. Do not let anyone tell you that it is under control; it is just being patient. DDT and chloroquine no longer are effective, and vaccines are an unrealistic hope at best.

Let me introduce myself
I was assigned to a rural junior secondary program in Burie, Gojjam from 1973 to 1975.  During two amazing years in a small town, teaching great students, and exploring local history, I was able to absorb the deeper meaning of the 1974 revolution that deposed Haile Selassie with other PCVs in the area. This historic event surrounded us with elements of excitement of a new day that was later tempered by violence and military rule disguised as socialism (Etiopia Tikdem!).  My first and only phone call in Burie came in February 1974 from Peace Corps in Addis telling us in three static-laden words: “Come to Addis!” We came as directed, hung out in the Plaza Hotel, but then two weeks later returned to our students and the classroom.

After my completion of service and a trip through West Africa, I returned home to work for a few months at the VISTA placement office in Chicago. After I completed a Ph.D. in History at Michigan State. I became the first American Fulbright Scholar to go to Ethiopia after the revolution. From 1980 to 1982 I conducted research on Lasta — the area around Lalibela —  and its  agricultural history. I was appointed to a position at Boston University, where I directed its venerable African Studies Center for 12 years.  I taught African history, completed more field work, wrote five books, and directed 25 Ph.D. students, some of whom work on Ethiopia.

I have been fortunate to return to Ethiopia and Burie often over the last few decades. In Burie our former landlord and friend, Semahagne, and his family live in our earlier house, where they have preserved interesting relics of our life there.  I have monitored elections twice for the Norwegian Institute on Human Rights and have served as a field studies consultant with Oxfam America, Oxfam U.K, UNEP, UNDP, Norwegian Save the Children, and the International Livestock Center for Africa.  These were remarkable opportunities where I continued to learn from my Ethiopian colleagues, build my Amharic literacy, and travel over remarkably diverse landscapes by mule, horse, and on foot.  And, yes, in an odd Toyota pick-up, and a beat up Loncina. I keep in close touch with several of my former students and many layers of friends and colleagues in Ethiopia. I now direct the Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer Range Future, a part of Boston University.  My predecessor was a member of the Nobel Prize team that worked on global climate change.

It has been a joy to keep Ethiopia as a part of what shaped my life, even as I have explored a career teaching and writing about African environmental history, and doing the things one does raising two daughters to early adulthood with Sandi, my wife (and former Peace Corps townmate).

Malaria project

Checking a well for mosquitos

For the past five years, I have led a Rockefeller-funded research project on malaria ecology with colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Ethiopian Ministry of Health. We have worked with local farmers and performed lab work on the changing context of malaria, mosquitoes, and anti-malaria programs. From 1973 to 1975 there was no malaria  in the area of Burie (6,900 ft above sea level), but in 1998, 70,000 people died in that immediate area, and 700,000 in Ethiopia overall. I suffered a rather serious bout of malaria myself while working for Oxfam in a very remote site during the 1985 famine while I was working on one of my research projects.

The project in which I am currently involved has its

Malaria awareness poster

base near Asandabo (55 km from Jimma), a growing market community. Though a dusty and cacophonous road town, Asandabo also boasts (and attested to by my Ethiopian colleagues) the best restaurant in Ethiopia. The yaTsome biyaynetu is to die for on Wednesdays and Fridays. On other days, the doro fenta is delicious. The injera is the local stuff and real, not like the immitation variety served in the U.S.

For this project we use data collected by our clinic lab on mosquitoes, malaria case rates, and satellite imagery of ecological change over four decades. The clinic has a dedicated staff of MSc students from Jimma and Addis Ababa Universities and is served by a loyal university donkey that brings the water.

Recently I received the very welcome news that I have won a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Fulbright to wind up my malaria research and teach at Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar Universities, and to write a book on malaria’s future. In applying for the Guggenheim Fellowship, I made the point to the selection committee that Ethiopia’s historical experience with malaria is, in fact, unique and illustrative of malaria’s possible future in a world of climate change and changing landscapes.  We can learn from Ethiopia’s malaria ecology by pursuing the science of malaria’s transmission over time and place, but we can also learn from human stories of affliction, survival, the changes than have taken place across Ethiopia’s incredible variety of human spaces and ecologies.

How you can help

Rainy season puddles — a mosquito heaven

Having personally had an experience with malaria, I am seeking out other Volunteers who may have also had episodes with this devastating disease.  These stories will help to illustrate the human side of this disease. If you had an experience with malaria while in Ethiopia, I would appreciate learning from you:

  • Where was your site?
  • Did you or anyone around you contract malaria? When?
  • Did your students or neighbors report malaria and when during the year?
  • Where did you/your students/community seek treatment?
  • What was that treatment?
  • What medication did you take? Were there side effects?
  • Are you willing to relate the story of your experience in a few paragraphs?

Please contact me directly with information (or stories) at mccann@bu.edu. I look forward to hearing from you.  For more information on the project, see www.bu.edu/pardee. Here you will find a short video clip about the relationship of a new variety of maize and the increase in malaria.

PCVs in Ethiopia

Girls Leading Our World

PCVs participate in Camp Glow and receive more than they give

by Paul Voigt (Shambu 2011- )

Summer! For lots of kids in the U.S., that means packing up and heading to camp. Thanks to three Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Romania in 1995, girls from developing countries all over the world now participate in Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) every summer. These three PCVs are certainly proud that their Camp GLOW model is thriving 17 years later. Some of the camps now include boys. This year Ethiopian PCVs led seven camps, including more than 200 boys and girls from Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region.

The camp I took part in was a GLOW camp for 9th and 10th grade girls. Going away to camp was a cultural leap of faith since girls rarely leave their families at this age. Credit goes to the parents for sending their daughters off to this mysterious “camp” opportunity with a bunch of ferenjis. When we arrived after riding hours on bumpy buses at Wellega University  in Nekempte, which hosted our camp, the girls sat in stunned silence during lunch as they tried to understand what they had signed up for. Girls from the same town physically clung to each other as they struggled to adjust to the unknown. Little did they know they would soon be diving into everything from crafts to “condomizing” bananas. Surprisingly, all week the girls were up for anything we threw at them with 100% participation and dedication. It was also fun to watch them branch out and make new friends and become like sisters in this new adventure.

The week’s activities included sessions on gender roles, self-esteem, peer pressure, HIV/AIDS, “girl talk” about sexual health, a fuel-saving cooking method, tree-planting, clothes washing with a “laundry stick,” goal-setting, career and life-planning, plus games for learning, games for fun, journal writing, and crafts. The girls demonstrated their understanding of peer pressure by putting on skits that were as entertaining as they were informative. Drama seems to come naturally to Ethiopians. In an activity on voice projection, girls were asked to stand outside twenty feet from our second floor classroom and say their name, where they were from, and their favorite color loud enough so that everyone could hear them. Even the shyest girls gave it a shot. Craft sessions gave them a chance to express their creativity. Team-building games were exciting to watch and filled each girl with pride and jumping-up-and-down excitement when they accomplished their goal.

Anyone who has ever been a camp counselor knows that running a camp is like what our camp director Laura calls “a constant level of barely concealed chaos.” But when you take friendly, caring, knowledgeable, flexible, can-do counselors and combine them with inspirational gobez campers, problems such as girls being locked in their room due to notoriously bad door locks in this country, no water on campus, and schedule changes on the fly all work out in the end. After months of planning and preparation, we were able to see the fruits of our efforts. As we headed to shayee/bunna break one morning, the girls spontaneously began chanting, “Girls leading our world!” Some of the male students (and females) on campus stared in astonishment. “Lead us,” one male student said half intrigued, half mockingly. I had no doubt in that moment that these confident and amazing young girls were ready to take him up on that.

The question now is how do we make the progress of these successful camps sustainable and far-reaching? The answer is through GLOW Clubs. The final session of the week was dedicated to planning GLOW Clubs. The PCVs and the girls they brought to camp sat down together with markers and flipchart paper and enthusiastically brainstormed thoughtful plans. They’re excited to share their knowledge with classmates. We’re looking forward to assisting the girls with their GLOW Clubs as they put their leadership skills into action this year.

I’ll bet a gaari cart full of birr these bright young girls will grow beyond what they think is possible. When I look at pictures from our camp, I see the joy and potential in 34 girls’ faces. We haven’t seen the last of them. They’re inspirational, shining examples of not just Ethiopia’s future, but our future.

Opportunities

Graduate School Options for RPCVs

By Danielle Hoekwater (Mekelle 2009–11)

It is hard to believe that just over a year and a half ago I completed my Peace Corps service.

Danielle Hoekwater outside Debri – near Mekelle

I served as a Health-HIV/AIDS Volunteer in Mekelle, Ethiopia from 2009 to 2011. Just a few short weeks from now I will begin my second year as a Peace Corps Fellow at Western Illinois University as I pursue my Master’s in Community Health Education. My time as a PCV has contributed greatly to my graduate school experience. During my first year as a Fellow I worked as a graduate assistant for WIU Health Center’s Health Education. I was able to assist with on campus HIV testing events, World AIDS Day, as well as a number of health screening and awareness programs that I wouldn’t have had the experience with or confidence to do if it had not been for my time in Peace Corps and the new skills learned through my program. This fall I will begin my second year as a Fellow and I look forward to starting my internship as an Employee Wellness Coordinator at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, IL. I am halfway through my fellowship and I can say that so far it has been a great opportunity for me to enhance my knowledge, use my skills and to help others. I am thankful that after I have completed this program I will have some great experiences behind me and much less student loan debt than many others who are finishing graduate school.

With all the great things that have come about because of my participation in the Fellows program, I find it surprising that not all PCVs/RPCVs are aware of the education benefits that are available to them. I would like to share some basic information on the programs to get you started in the right direction for your graduate school search. If you’ve completed your Peace Corps service or are close to COS, you may be trying to decide between going back to school and getting a job. If you’re thinking about graduate school, there are some great options for RPCVs. The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows and Masters International programs are offered through various universities in a many academic fields.

Paul D. Coverdell Fellows
Through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, fellows use the skills and knowledge they have acquired during service to help others in their universities and/or communities at home through participation in academic programs and internships. According to the Peace Corps website, seventy universities are currently participating in the Fellows Program. Fellows are required to participate in an internship, typically in an under-served community in the USA, before completion of their program. Benefits of the fellows program depend on the school and program, but may include tuition waivers and stipends. RPCVs are eligible to participate in the fellows program any time after completing service.

Masters International
If you are currently a PCV or RPCV, the Master’s International program is not you for as it requires that you begin coursework before starting your Peace Corps service — but it may be perfect for a friend who is considering the Peace Corps. Master’s International is a program that allows PCVs to use their service to satisfy internship requirements or program credit. There are over eighty universities that participate in the Master’s International Program. If you are interested in a Master’s International program you should apply to both the Peace Corps and a participating academic program separately. Once accepted to both, students typically complete one year of classes before beginning their Peace Corps service. Master’s International students may have the opportunity to receive tuition waivers, assistantships, or other benefits depending on the program.

If you are currently serving, I suggest starting with the information about graduate school that you may have received from Peace Corps during one of the conferences or training sessions. If you are an RCPV, the official Peace Corps website has extensive information and links to specific programs at various universities. You can search for programs on the Peace Corps website at “Universities and Programs.”

If these programs don’t match up with your career path, remember that universities love RPCVs and there may be other options, such as graduate assistantships, that may be available for you. Contact the desired program for more information.  It’s important to start early and be aware of deadlines, especially if you plan to apply during service, because we all know how unreliable internet and mail can be in host countries.

It’s important to note that attending graduate school may extend your non-competitive eligibility (NCE). RPCVs who successfully complete their service and COS are given one year of non-competitive eligibility. If you begin graduate school before your NCE expires, you will have the opportunity to use the remaining time after completing your degree. Please contact Peace Corps for additional information.

Books

A Master Chef Returns to His Homeland and is Inspired

Yes, Chef: A Memoir
By Marcus Samuelsson
Random House, 2012
$27.00 (hardcover)

Reviewed by Janet Lee (Emdeber 74–76)

“What are some of the modern cooking trends in Africa?” asked a “young black guy whose dreads were held in an enormous knitted cap striped with red, green, and black.” The question dumbfounded Swedish chef Marcus Samuelsson, a master chef in the culinary world and of Ethiopian decent. Raised in Sweden since he was three, he had traveled around the world, “chasing flavors” of many nations, but was at a loss to explain the tastes and aromas of his native Ethiopia let alone the entire continent of Africa to this young man during a seminar.  It was time to visit his country of birth.

Yes, Chef  is a fascinating memoir. Adopted by a stable Swedish couple, long before it became fashionable to adopt Ethiopian babies in the U.S., Marcus had a pretty typical Swedish upbringing, except for the fact that he was born Ethiopian. His Swedish father longed for a son and was willing to travel all the way to Africa to fulfill this desire. Some time earlier, Marcus and his sister Linda, both ill with tuberculosis, traveled a great distance with their mother to receive treatment in a hospital in Addis Ababa, only to lose their mother to the disease.  A hospital caretaker took the children in until they were matched with the Samuelsson family.

Marcus attended school, played soccer, developed friendships, and survived the occasional bully. He spent his summers fishing with his grandfather and cooking with his grandmother. Never much of a student, he chose to follow his passion for food rather than academics. This memoir chronicles the trials and tribulations, of which there are many, of becoming a world class chef.

As fascinating as his story is, the book came alive for me when he returned to Ethiopia and discovered this beautiful country with fresh and innocent eyes, and fell “in love a hundred times a day.” He saw his face “reflected a thousand times over.” Each time he saw a child street vendor selling gum or tissues, the child was a version of himself. As Peace Corps Volunteers, we can relate to the sensory experience of sights, sounds, scents as we, too, arrived in Addis Ababa or ventured out the first time to the Merkato, the largest open-air market in Africa.  Not surprisingly, he spent hours in the spice aisles, trying to decipher the ingredients in berbere. Who among us has not brought back packets of berbere, mitmita, or the powder for shiro to our villages or home to the U.S.?

He spent one afternoon at a teff terra and as a chef had to try his hand at making injera. How could he resist? The baker handed him the dented can she used for a ladle and he made his first attempt to pour the fermented batter onto the hot metad in a spiral motion and was humbled by the results. I remember my first attempt had more gaps than bread.

He later learned to make doro wat from a seventy-five-year-old woman named Abrihet, killing the chicken, plucking and gutting it, and soaking it in a brine of lemon, water, and salt. As it marinated, he chopped onion after onion with a “bad knife and a horrible cutting board” reminding him once again how spoiled he had become. The elderly Abrihet expressed a little discomfort in having a man in her kitchen, since it was not the Ethiopian way, but explained it away by the fact that he was not from there, and indeed was a ferengi, so it was OK.

In truth, his experience in Ethiopia is a minor part of his overall story, but the most powerful for me. He opens the book by describing his African mother, the one he cannot remember but comes to know through the recollections of others.  He describes her in ways that are most familiar to him, through food and spices:  shiro and injera and berbere, the easiest connection to the mysteries of who his mother was.  “For me, my mother is berbere . . .. I know she cooked with it because it’s in the DNA of every Ethiopian mother.” He further describes what he “knows” about his mother because of his observation of the women of the countryside whom he meets. She was strong because Ethiopian women walk everywhere. She would have a child on her back, and grip the hand of an older child next to her. She most likely had no shoes and would walk for hours to sell her wares in the market. She would bear a henna tattoo of a cross on her face because she could not afford jewelry. She had to be shrewd. How else could she maneuver the hospital system in order for her children to be seen and thus save their lives?

His descriptions bring back equally vivid memories of my rural village of Emdeber. The women stooped over under the weight of jugs of water or bundles of firewood at dusk, warning me, “Be careful.  Hyenas like women and children best.” Women, the beasts of burden of all of Africa.

As a teacher in that small village, I often wondered what these students could become given the right circumstances. Was there a Mozart who only lacked a piano or a da Vinci who only needed some paint? Marcus has shown that with love, stability, a modest amount of resources and a great deal of determination, every child has the potential to soar to great heights.


From Life on the Streets to Success

No One’s Son: The Story of a Defiant Ethiopian Boy and His Bold Quest for Freedom
by Tewodros Fekadu
Leapfrog Press, 2012
$19.95

Reviewed by Shelley Tekeste (Mekelle 2008–10)

Tewodros gives a detailed account of his struggle for love and family while enduring a childhood filled with conflict during the Derg regime’s control. He spins a heartbreaking tale: the ultimate underdog story that details his longing for a family, home and happiness.

His Ethiopian mother’s innocence taken away by a highly respected Eritrean doctor, he was born a child whom no one seemed to want.  Shuffled between family members, between countries, young Tewodros learns early that he will have to forge his own way. Relying on the periodic help from Catholic clergy, distant relatives and friendships he has developed on the streets, Tewodros has many adventures, both disappointing and joyous.

As he comes of age, Tewodros manages to leave Ethiopia on several occasions.  His first international experience lands him in Cairo, Egypt. With the help of a friend, he is able to enter Japan, where he was arrested for working without proper papers and held in custody in the immigration detention center for three years. After a hard fought battle with immigration, he finally gets to Australia, where he now lives with his wife Anita. He returns to Ethiopia and Eritrea periodically to visit family and friends.

Tewodros does a wonderful job detailing the thoughts and feelings of a young Ethiopian boy during the Derg regime. He includes many historical references to the time. One of my favorite parts early on is when he gives a brief historical reference to Italy’s move on Eritrea, as though he were a football announcer. He details the changing of the Ethiopian flag and many of the small changes in Ethiopia as the EPRDF government starts to come into play. I also found myself feeling a little more compassionate for the street children in Ethiopia, a sentiment that took me quite by surprise.


Writing the Great Memoir . . . Should You Try It?

Peace Corps Experience:  Write and Publish Your Memoir
By Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 75–77)
iUniverse, Inc., 2012
$13.95

Reviewed by Janet Lee (Emdeber 74–76)

As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, have you ever wondered if you should write about your Volunteer experience, perhaps the most important experience of your life? Lawrence Lihosit, author of Peace Corps Experience: Write and Publish Your Memoir not only responds with a resounding, YES, but gives you the rationale and the tools to do so.

Although you may have spoken of your stories and experiences to family, school groups and other interested parties, a memoir allows you to share your experience with a wider audience and these written memories will still be available for time to come. It becomes part of that larger mosaic of experiences of Volunteers, who went overseas and, indeed, did change the world.  A memoir hones in on a significant period of your life, allowing you to reflect on the experiences and people who changed your life. It is not an autobiography, but a selectively told story, based on personal experiences. Who better to write about these experiences than the Peace Corps Volunteers themselves?

Lihosit has an easy and folksy style, at times somewhat whimsical. He also takes his role as coach and mentor seriously and can be very direct, but in a good-natured way. “If you wish to change history, write a novel instead.” He understands the pressures that most writers are under and advises them to take that needed break by putting the project away for a while. He reminds us that there are no hard and fast deadlines; the key is to get started and that is where the fun begins.

Everyone will develop his or her own style in beginning this project. Lihosit likes butcher paper and colored crayons.  He advises the writer to collect letters, memorabilia, photos, emails, and blogs. And not to forget the not so obvious:  passports, shot records, training materials, and the group photo album.  It is also wise to conduct a bit of research on the history of the country to put these memories in context. He suggests writing style manuals to aid in making the memoir memorable and a pleasure to read and not merely a listing of dates.

He follows with practical advice with chapters: Polish, Format, Cover Design, Publication, Promotion, each describing in detail aspects of publishing such as fonts, parts of the book, paper quality and color, layout, print-on-demand, cover art, and promotion.  Helpful hints include something as specific as enlarging the size of the font on the cover title so that it is legible on booksellers’ websites.

Lihosit gives special mention to our own John Coyne and Marian Haley Beil for their extraordinary work on Peace Corps Worldwide, and recommends the author submit a review copy to Coyne for inclusion in the Peace Corps Worldwide website. My Colorado colleague, Jane Albritton, editor of the four volume Peace Corps at 50 series, enthusiastically encourages Volunteers in the foreword to share these memories, which are both individual and at the same time representative of a cultural memory. With Lihosit as your accomplished guide, it is time to write.


Where There is No Hope: A Study by an RPCV

Hope is Cut:  Youth, Unemployment, and the Future in Urban Ethiopia

by Daniel Mains (Goha Tsion 98–99)
Temple University Press, 2012
$69.50

Reviewed by Robert E. Hamilton (Bahar Dar 65–67)

This book, based upon the doctoral dissertation Daniel Mains submitted to Emory University (“‘We Are Only Sitting and Waiting’: Aspirations, Unemployment, and Status among Urban Young Men in Jimma, Ethiopia”), is the first in a series edited by Craig Jeffreys and Jane Dyson that will focus upon “youth” — defined as those 10-30 years of age — and their experience of maturing and coping with a world of “global social and economic changes.”  Jeffreys and Dyson predict, “Mains’s study will soon become a landmark in its field.” This conclusion is premature if the case study of 28 youth in Jimma, Ethiopia, (population: 150,000) is expected to measure up to a sub-title purporting to be about “Urban Ethiopia.”  Over time, Donald Levine’s Wax and Gold:  Tradition and Innovation in Ethiopian Culture (1965) has become a “landmark.” Hope is Cut does not meet the Levine standard as yet.

“Hope is cut,” or “hopelessness,” derives from the Amharic expression tesfa qoretewal, which Ethiopians use “to describe the condition of urban youth” (page 1) experiencing an unemployment rate of about 50%. To understand how Mains studied this condition by interviewing, mainly, unemployed young men in Jimma, located 200 miles southwest of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, (a useful map of the country precedes the “Series Editors’ Preface”) this reviewer recommends reading the “Introduction:  Youth, Hope, Stratification, and Time” as well as Chapter 6, “Conclusion:  Sustaining Hope in the Present and the Future,” before tackling Chapters 1–5. Combined, the Introduction and the Conclusion provide a clearer articulation of Mains’s argument regarding the response of some Jimma youth — generally secondary school graduates — to unemployment than the more prolix descriptions contained in the main body of the book. However, Chapters 1–5 contain the interesting details of the lives of those Mains studied between 2002 and 2005 in Jimma, including the entrepreneurial young men and women who found or created employment and compensation as well as those who were unemployed. Interestingly, when Mains returned to Jimma in 2008, as the global recession deepened, nearly all of the formerly unemployed young men had been forced by family financial and economic circumstances to take low-wage jobs they refused to take earlier.

Young unemployed men in Ethiopia — as well as in many other developing countries — face obstacles that prevent them from becoming “adults” and taking on the marriage and family responsibilities, which their parents assumed. Simultaneously, modern technology (e.g. television and cinema) presents images of a world in which other young men (and women) are meeting expectations, passing into the adult stage of their lives, and living well. In Jimma, “Youth are perceived,” Mains notes, “as both being hopeless and possessing unprecedented aspirations. These conditions are mutually constitutive rather than contradictory.  It is partially the elevated ambitions of young men that cause hopelessness.” (p. 3) They are stuck: Their “school leaving examination” test scores are too low to gain them admittance to the university; they cannot find “government work” (their ideal white-collar job) because public sector employment has been drastically reduced; and yilunnta (Amharic: a fear of the judgment of others) stops them from taking low-pay, manual labor employment unworthy of a secondary-school graduate.

Hopelessness and “lofty goals” characterize youthful men globally.  In some instances, this leads to “political unrest and violence.” (p. 3)  While Addis Ababa youth have exhibited fendata (Amharic: “explosive”) moments, “This book examines less visible, but no less important struggles of young men to find work, attain economic independence, and raise a family.” (pp. 3–4)

While some feel shame in extended unemployment, many do not, since the condition is so common. During the 2002–05 period of research, in less severe economic times, many of the unemployed young men were sustained by “gifts” from family (including sisters working in the Middle East or elsewhere as domestics who sent remittances home from abroad), family friends, and other members of the cohort group.  Mains’s informants explained and exhibited the importance of sharing and reciprocity: It was important to share whatever gifts of cash or other resources a young man might receive. Many informants tried to dress well to maintain their pride and exhibit the style of an educated, secondary school graduate. But, without work, they filled their mornings with street-corner conversation and a search for money to buy khat, and to afford a visit to the video house.  Khat, Hollywood, and Bollywood enabled young men to develop “imagined possibilities” for their future and thus restore “hope” to their lives.  The old drug and the new technologies combined are more than the Ethiopian folk tales, riddles, and stories, which preceded them as sources of inspiration or moral guides. Film, television, and the Internet depict modern life as it can exist and does exist outside of Jimma’s neighborhoods.  Mains views the khat house and the video house as “universities or think tanks,” which they patently are not as he offers no evidence that they resulted in positive plans or action to end unemployment. Rather, they are places of pleasant delusion, diversion, and distraction. The Ethiopian police and many adults believe that unemployed youth seek the anonymity and thrills of the video house because they are lazy and do not want to work; not being able to find a “government job” is their excuse for not seeking employment under any circumstances.

One alternative for unemployed young men was to migrate to the U.S., Europe, or the Middle East to find work. A second alternative was additional education.  Abroad, one could work as a manual laborer and not compromise one’s pride or embarrass one’s family. Thus, “space” could become a substitute for “time” as a measure of progress; Mains is constantly being asked to help young men fulfill this goal. None of his research participants succeeded in going abroad, but many left Jimma to work elsewhere in Ethiopia, earn enough money to share with family members, and learn new skills or earn new credentials (e.g. a driver’s license) to improve their opportunities for future employment.

In a section titled “Neoliberalism, Hope, and Social Theory,” Mains turns to Hirokazu Miyazaki for theoretical assistance because “I am interested in the relationship between space, time, hope, and social theory.” Miyazaki says “hope” is important in 21st century social theory. Lack of hope concerns social theorists.  “’Facing the collapse of socialist regimes and other apparent manifestations of the effects of so-called globalization, social theorists have deplored their inability to imagine alternatives to capitalism.’” (This quotation is from a 2006 article by Miyozaki in Cultural Anthropology:  “Economy of Dreams:  Hope in Global Capitalism and Its Critiques.”) How does this apply to Jimma, Ethiopia?  “In terms of their hopelessness, leftist thinkers appear to be similar to young men in urban Ethiopia.  With the fall of socialism and the rise of postmodernism, social theorists lack a narrative to galvanize their critical examinations of escalating global inequality, imperialism, and environmental degradation. It appears that social theory may also be mired in an undesirable present as a result of a loss of hope for the future.” (p. 15)

The more readable half of Hope is Cut is that devoted to the narratives of young men and women who are either unemployed or working. More complex is the half devoted to the theoretical context and Mains’s efforts to explain and critique scholars who critique “neoliberal capitalism,” which is never defined by Mains but to which he makes multiple references. General readers may roll their eyes at some of the tortuous arguments and descriptions before turning pages rapidly to locate again the human actors on the Mains stage and listen to them speak. A longer “life history” of each of the Jimma youth included in the field research, as well as more information about their families, would have made the study more appealing. The theoretical significance of the dissertation-to-book could have been incorporated in an article submitted to an appropriate social theory journal.

In his defense, though, Mains does a creditable job wedding case study to theory in the “Conclusion:  Sustaining Hope in the Present and the Future,” beginning on page 155. There, Mains helped this reader better answer a question resulting from the author’s point (and that of others) that “capitalism” or “neoliberal capitalism” is not “monolithic” and that the economic system associated with it globally, including Ethiopia, is a patch-work quilt of many systems. My question was:  Would unemployed Jimma youth be better served by more capitalism?  Would there not be more jobs — white as well as blue collar — if there were more capital available through the banking system, and more capital investment in Jimma and elsewhere in Ethiopia by both the public and private sectors? Or does Mains advocate less or no capitalism and a return to expanded ownership and management of land as well as the means of production by the Ethiopian government?

Capitalism can, obviously, co-exist with worker cooperatives; it need not be excluded and, indeed, may improve the worker cooperatives, which are established alongside it. It may also exist in the presence of a political system, which tolerates capitalism but does not publicly embrace it.  Some of the milky opaqueness of Mains’s argument is that he persists in simply arguing that he wants to understand how khat, television, videos and other technologies help “young men . . . see a way for them to move from the present to the future” and have “hope.” But, he does not tell us about the content of this “future” which his Jimma participants imagine. How do they, the subjects of his study, describe, analyze, and map their own way forward? How do they talk about “neoliberal capitalism” and its differential impact from one geographic site or region to another?

For example, stepping back from the book as a whole, one can praise it as a case study in which unemployed young men and women in Jimma, Ethiopia, figure out how to move from the “youth” to “adult” stages of life. (The book is really about Jimma, not all of “Urban Ethiopia.”) They either ignore the conventions of yilunnta (making money in a socially acceptable way and living a socially acceptable life style) and use small amounts of capital to financially succeed as an entrepreneur or small-scale business owner; or they migrate to where jobs exist domestically (e.g. large-scale construction projects in Ethiopia). A few use family money to return to secondary school and take the school-leaving exam again, or take university course work to become a professional (e.g. an engineer).

Rather than “explore the economic and discursive sustainability of hope,” Mains could have explored the economic “world view” of Jimma youth in their own words. We learn, in Amharic and English, what they do not like about the “’bad culture’” of Ethiopia which inhibits “progress,” but Mains does not tell us how the khat and videos result in a view of how the world economy is structured, where opportunity exists for unemployed youth to become wage earners, and what plan each has to benefit from the pockets or economies of capitalist opportunity, and thus restore or mend the hope that has been cut.

Instead, Mains says that his interest “is in the potential of neoliberal capitalism as an analytical category to function as a hopeful form of knowledge. Do analyzing practices and beliefs in terms of neoliberalism generate hope for the future? For the most part this exploration is an implicit rather than an explicit aspect of my analysis.” It would be interesting to see the three sentences above translated into Amharic and read to a group of unemployed youth chewing khat.  And then ask them, “What does that mean?”

Those interested in social theory and economic theory will want to read the concluding chapter, as will those who wonder whether Mains views Africa’s future with optimism. He does, reminding us yet again that the Jimma youth he studied believe in the value of “social relationships”:  the “zemed” (family and best friends) who were closer than “gwadenna” (friends).  Zemed could be called upon for greater, more frequent assistance; or they were the recipients of greater attention and gifts.  His subjects believe that money is necessary but not sufficient to live a full and rewarding life.

Furthermore, because “neoliberal capitalism” is finite in its reach, there is hope for alternative economies and social organizations, which meet human needs with greater positive emotional impact.  Mains explains his own position as one drawing upon but distinct from David Harvey, Richard Rorty, J. K. Gibson-Graham, and others.  Teaching now in the Honors College of the University of Oklahoma, Mains is continuing his research interests in Ethiopia and presumably will contribute to social theory as well.

In the next edition of Hope is Cut, the book would be enhanced by adding a “Glossary,” a simple matter as the Index includes already an alphabetized listing of Amharic words or terms followed by a definition:  For example, adegenna bozeni (dangerous/criminal unemployed youth); duriye (vagabond; hooligan).  Mains should define the meaning of “neoliberal capitalism.” This will help the reader understand whether it includes political-economic systems as different as those of China and the United States, both active in Africa. He should also add a longer description of the economy of Jimma within the larger macro-economy of Ethiopia.

Finally, Hope is Cut is, perhaps because it addresses both the story of individuals and the context of global social and economic change, a useful reference tool for an Ethiopian (or other) novelist interested in writing about the subject of unemployed young men and, to a lesser extent, young women. The imaginative short-story or fiction writer will find references to personal relationships and family life; angst in an urban environment; methods of constructing hope in the midst of grim economic reality; drugs; courageous risk taking; the sharing of meager income and gifts; unfulfilled dreams of becoming fully adult with a job, spouse, and children; the journey from home, friends, and family to a new community or country to search for work and, eventually, the return journey home to, perhaps, a hero’s welcome.  The index and the useful bibliography will make it impossible to claim “writer’s block.”  And, should you need further inspiration, do what Dr. Mains did:  go to Jimma and find Haile, Habtemu, Afwerk, Siraj, and the others and listen to their stories.

Robert E. Hamilton, Ph.D. is a consultant to medical and educational projects in Africa. His career includes university lectureships and as an outreach director for the Program of African Studies, University of Florida-Gainesville.  He has also worked as communications director of a coal mining company, strategic planner for a law firm, development manager of a communications company, stockbroker, and director of an NGO with projects in India and Tanzania.


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