I’ve always been a doer, and if someone gets in the way of my to-do list, you better watch out – you will be trampled on. This way of thinking and living is not realistic in Ethiopia. I naturally embraced the doer mentality present in America. I struggle to change this attitude because it only causes frustration here in Ethiopia; plus, it’s really not the reason I am here. Yes, we have a lot of surgeries to get done at CURE Ethiopia. I have a lot of student nurse anesthetists to teach and train. A fair amount of administrative duties come my way. Chris, my husband, has just as many responsibilities here, and adds more daily. Despite all of these tasks that await us and continue to build and expand the longer we are here, we have come to realize that these things are not the reason for being here. Ultimately the reason for being here is building relationships – living dependent and intermingled lives with others.
It’s not about coming to the CURE hospital each morning, brushing past the awaiting patients and families, and getting to work. The greeting I give these people, the hugs and handshakes with the children, are just as important as starting their IV’s and giving them the anesthesia necessary for their surgeries. Asking my co-workers how they are and taking time to truly listen to their answers is just as important as getting to the day’s business. Drinking a cup of coffee is better done in the break room while engaging in conversation than staring at my computer screen, as I am often tempted to do. In Ethiopian culture, coffee is rarely drunk alone. It is a social institution, meant to be done with others. I am shouting “foreigner” whenever I take my coffee to my computer instead of drinking with others. Read the rest of this entry »