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Volunteering in Ethiopia: Arrival Procedure in Addis Ababa

Volunteers in Ethiopia Most volunteers fly into Bole International airport in Addis Ababa in the middle of the night - make sure you've got a warm coat and wear an extra pair of socks! After a short walk off the plane through to the arrival lounge, you will be greeted by a Projects Abroad member of staff.

You'll jump in a car with a Projects Abroad member of staff and head for our Projects Abroad apartment and office, where you'll be left to rest and shower. You will then spend the following morning with a Projects Abroad staff member getting to know Ethiopian culture and how things work in Addis Ababa before heading out for a traditional Ethiopian buffet for your first taste of the ubiquitous Injera!

Volunteering in Ethiopia: Orientation and Induction

Volunteering in Ethiopia After a filling meal, you'll head off with a Projects Abroad staff member for your induction tour of the city. All the normal stops are included - you'll be shown where to change your money, the post office, important landmarks and internet cafés - yes they do exist, even in Ethiopia! Our staff are eager for volunteers to see as much as possible, so they may even find the time to take you to a museum to learn about the different tribes and origins of Ethiopian society.

Depending on the time and your program, you may be introduced to your placement during that afternoon. If not, our staff will pick you up and take you the next day. Whenever it happens, you'll be taken from your host family on public transportation to give you a chance to test out the route and see the landmarks.

Blue-and-white painted minibuses - public taxis - are the quickest and most popular form of public transportation and they go everywhere in Addis. They also stop anywhere - all you have to do is put your hand out to halt one, and remember to shout "waraj!" - "stop!" - nice and loudly when you see your destination! There are also plenty of blue-and-white painted Lada taxis all over the city.

After a day of introductions, you'll head with a Projects Abroad staff member to your host family. Our host families are mostly middle class Ethiopians living in their own single-storey family homes throughout the city. Initial introductions will probably take place over a traditional coffee ceremony, so you'll learn about this aspect of the culture and get the chance to savour the taste and aroma of arguably the best coffee in the world.

Care in Ethiopia You will then be left to have dinner with the family and settle in. Ethiopians eat lots of meat - mainly beef and chicken in a variety of different spicy stews called wot. There are always a huge variety of dishes available at each meal, including vegetables, lentil stews, wots, and salads - all of course heaped generously atop your injera.

If you need a change, Addis has a huge range of foreign foods, especially Italian due to the five year Italian occupation during World War II, but you can also find German, Mexican, Indian, Chinese - there's even a Burger Queen! It is certainly possible to be a vegetarian in Ethiopia, but you will have to keep explaining, so be prepared for lots of quizzical looks!

Coming from an increasingly isolated western culture, you'll be amazed at the friendly and generous nature of all Ethiopians; Ethiopian hospitality really is mind-blowing, and you'll no doubt have offers of meeting up for a coffee coming out of your ears, since it's considered very cool to have a ferenje - or foreign - friend!