Posts Tagged ‘culture’

And We’re Off!

February 11, 2008

It’s official! As I write this I am sitting in the Calgary airport waiting for my flight to London. It’s quite nice really, as Delayne, our business class flyer, did what Delayne does, and ‘talked’ us all into the first class lounge. Five hour wait doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

The logistics of getting the entire crew to Ethiopia is an interesting one, as Jim left yesterday already, Delayne, Mary Ann, Chris, and I fly out today, but Chris flies straight to Frankfurt, while Delayne, Mary Ann, and I fly to London. From there, I fly to Frankfurt to overnight with Chris, while the two ladies continue on towards Addis. Jim, Delayne, and Mary Ann arrive at about the same time, followed by Chris and I late in the evening. Bruce flies in to join us on Friday, and Dean and Darren will not arrive until Monday. Oh the joys of group travel.

We have already dodged our first trouble spot. Chris and I got ‘busted’ (as the Air Canada lady put it) with overweight carry on bags when we were seated in the front row of the airplane and thus had nowhere to stow our bags. Forced to skycheck the bags, we had to hand our bags over to the staff. Let’s just say it was quickly apparent that we weren’t within regulations. We gave her the puppy eyes and the ‘but they are textbooks for Africa” line, and we got away with it. Success!

I would like to welcome you to the blog once again, and ask for your involvement. Comments are open to public use, you do not need to sign up or give away information. If you would like to leave your name, that would be great, as it’s nice to know who is saying what. I would love comments, greetings, questions, and requests. If you ask something I don’t know I will do my best to find the answer, and sometimes people a little more detached than us have really unique and valuable queries and thoughts. As well, all of us are carrying cameras, and I am packing a serious equipment bag around. I would love to be posting photos as we go, but I fear that may not be possible. Ethiopia runs entirely on dial-up internet (gasp!) which is not entirely reliable. Between the slow connections speeds and common dropped connections, I feel the most realistic situation will have me posting photos when I return home while attempting to cross reference them with what was discussed in the blog. I’d love to get requests for photos you would like to see, and will do my best to get shots for you. Anything you would like to see to give you some insight. As well, any messages you want to send to the team or any team member will be passed along promptly.

I am tracking the the visits to this site, and am pleased to say we are already off to a healthy start. It’s a personal challenge of mine to see how many people we can get to follow along on our adventures. It will be educational, but I hope very entertaining as well. Once again I invite you to pass the site’s address to anyone you feel would be interested at all in following us in our adventures and follies.

And now I am going to lean back into my leather seat and listen to the clink of fine china as I enjoy a drink and a salad. Complimentary, of course. Cheers.

Until next time, yours in electronic correspondence,



Down to Business

February 11, 2008

So it is now officially less than twelve hours before we leave on adventures in the wild blue yonder. My bag lays on the floor behind me (almost) packed, for about the fifth time. Another repack to shift weight and cram even more items into our bags is most likely pending. My room is a mess, and will probably remain that way when I leave. And oh yes, I still have to hammer out this entry. Not to worry, I am not becoming disillusioned and embittered yet, I am still really excited about this trip.

So this is the official introduction to the Rotary and ANSO projects in Ethiopia, this year’s travel team, it’s goals, and to myself, Mike, who will be host on this little excursion via the wonders of the modern interweb.

First I will do a bit of a background on how all of this got started and fill you in on some background if you are not already familiar with all the awesome happenings being facilitated in Ethiopia right now due to the good folks at Rotary and ANSO.

In 2005, Drew (and Marvie) Lamont and Chris (and Kathy) Andersen from the Swan City Rotary Club (SCRC) visited Ethiopia to check out potential Rotary Projects in the southern part of that country. They were hosted by the Pastoralist Concern Association of Ethiopia (PCAE), and what they saw and learned on that trip has had a profound and lasting impression, not only on the people that made the original visit, but on the entire Swan City Rotary Club, and even on the community of Grande Prairie. There have been two return visits with the third starting February 11, 2008. The SCRC now has several projects in southern Ethiopia, and Chris and Kathy Andersen have initiated the “ANSO Collectives and Educational Support Society” which is active on a number of fronts in various parts of Ethiopia. As a result of the last visit to Ethiopia, a number of Rotarians have been working hard to organize two sea shipping containers (one of medical supplies, one of educational supplies) which were shipped to Ethiopia during the first week of December, 2007. A group of Rotarians is now set to travel to Ethiopia to:

– Help distribute the contents of the containers

– Check on the progress of the existing Rotary projects

– Lay the ground work for additional Rotary projects

– Monitor the progress of the various ANSO initiatives and discuss next steps with the local people.

This blog has been set up to allow you to follow (to the degree web connections will allow) the progress of this group of Rotarians as they work their way through Ethiopia. We hope that not only will it give you a better insight into some of the work being done, but that it wall also contribute to your understanding of life in Ethiopia and the impact that both Rotary and private initiatives can have on the life of people who may not be as fortunate as we are.

So now that we are all up to speed on the basics, I introduce to you, without further ado, the 2008 All-Star Ethiopian Adventure Team (aSEAT, for short):

Dean Anderson: A Rotarian from Fort Saint John, this will be Dean’s second trip to Ethiopia. He is a strong project supporter, both to Rotary and ANSO. Personal Catch Phrase: “If we could just do this, then…”

Darren Anderson: Dean’s son, Darren is travelling all the way from his current home in Sidney, Australia to join us in our exploits. This will be Darren’s first visit to Ethiopia. No one has met Darren, so I can’t say much more about him. I will fill you in when I actually meet our mysterious companion.

Bruce Beairsto: Previously known as a skeptic towards the actual effect of international projects, this will be Bruce’s second visit to Ethiopia. In contrast to his previous position, he was a driving force behind the container project, doing what he does best, making things happen. He also buys his socks and underwear at Costco. Personal Catch Phrase: “I know someone who will do that.”

Mary Ann Smith: A proven Mother Hen, Mary Ann makes sure we maintain our sensibilities. Hobbies include trying to teach Bruce how to do laundry. This will be her second trip to Ethiopia. Mary Ann was one of three women (Mary Ann, Delayne, and Lisa) who made the container project come together. She sewed me a sleeping bag for this trip. Personal Catch Phrase: “I could make that.”

Delayne Weeks: A seasoned international traveler, this will nonetheless be Delayne’s first foray into Ethiopia. The second of the Power Team Three behind the container project. Personal Catch Phrase: “What else needs to be done?”

Jim Boccioletti: A brave man to associate himself with our lot, Jim will be visiting Africa for the first time on this trip. Hopefully we won’t ruin his first experience. Personal Catch Phrase: “I can get that!”

Chris Andersen: Our seasoned veteran, Chris is returning to Ethiopia for the fifth time this year. Dedicated to international causes, he and his wife Kathy founded ANSO and has been involved with the Rotary projects in Ethiopia since the beginning. Personal Catch Phrase: “We’ll make it work.”

Mike Andersen: Chris’ son, I was recruited as official reporter, photographer (though Mary Ann is likely to give me a run for my money), and technical adviser on all things electronic. This will be my second trip to Ethiopia. A strangely convenient coincidental decision to switch degree programs has allowed me come on this undertaking. Personal Catch Phrase: “Yes Bruce, you have to be in this photo.”

And while they are not joining our forces this time around, there are two other team members who I would be completely uncouth to fail to mention in print:

Lisa Lauzon: The third of the Power Team Three who brought the container project to fruition, Lisa has proven herself indispensable time and time again. Personal Catch Phrase: “I should be able to get that done tonight.”

Mehran Faridani: Pivotal in ensuring the medical container was sent without a hitch, full of practical and usable contents, Mehran is an ‘almost rotarian,’ as he was transferred to Ontario almost concurrently with being accepted into Rotary. This turn of events unfortunately cut his involvement short, but nevertheless, his help was very much appreciated.

And so, with the players of this epic tale introduced, I  leave you now at the curtain rise.

More is soon to come, but for now, I must take my leave to go decide on the final distribution of my 130+ pounds of cargo, not to mention try to sleep a bit before tomorrow morning comes.

I hope you enjoy is blog, and if you do, I ask that you pass the address on to your friends. An audience helps to justify our antics.

Best Regards,


Chris Andersen, Michael Andersen, Bruce Beairsto, Mary Ann Smith, Delayne Weeks, Jim Boccioletti, Dean Anderson, and Darren Anderson

P.S: Now 10.5 hours and counting.