My Week in Ethiopia

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege to travel with a group of friends to Ethiopia. We went to three cities, Gondar, Lalibela and Addis Ababa. This was done in a very short amount of time within 5 days. Travelling through Ethiopia was amazing as it opened my eyes up to real poverty.

One of the Churches in the Fasil Ghebbi Fortress

Gondar was the first destination. We visited Fasil Ghebbi fortress city, multiple churches, hiked in mountains and visited a Jewish community in their synagogue. My group and I felt there was a sense of a stronger bond between the communities as they didn’t have much but had each other. Being in these places made you realise how different Ethiopia is from western society.

There was a big football game within Gondar, there were people sitting on big hills high up on the outskirts of the stadium. When they won, 1000’s of people came to the centre of town to celebrate like they won a championship. This made me realise how crazy these people are about soccer as this experience is something you don’t see every day.

Lalibela was completely different from Gondar. It’s considered to be the Jerusalem of Ethiopia. We dedicated the day to seeing 11 churches. They are built underground out of rocks because the Muslims in Ethiopia were burning them down back in the 17th century. It felt like we were in an Indiana Jones movie as you walked through trenches and tunnels underground.

One of Thirteen Churches in Lalibela
View from the restaurant in Lalibela

In the Afternoon, we talked to some locals for them to practice their English and we bought some kids dictionaries & footballs from the markets. It was a meaningful experience as we gave back to the community to provide education resources and sporting equipment that created a sense of fulfilment. The day end with me and my group having drinks & dinner at a restaurant overlooking a valley bonding over the sunset in a unforgettable experience.

A female carrying wood down a hill on the outskirts of Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa was the final destination of our tour; it was more of a tourist stop over as it was a western city. We ate lots of food, saw different museums, visited a church in the mountains and saw markets. The highlight was when we met Dr Rick Hodes, we were very fortunate to meet him.

Dr Rick Hodes on the cover of his biography ‘This is a Soul’

Rick Hodes is an American Jewish Doctor who has lived in Ethiopia for over 30 years dedicating his life to providing Spinal treatment for patients with life threatening conditions. He shared with us his stories about all the patience’s he saved with serious conditions of spinal diseases and tumours.

Spending 3 hours with him taking in all this information was emotional and life changing. I realised how lucky we are to live in a society where you have access to high quality health care, clean drinking water and food we can buy at the supermarket to feed our families.

Ultimately, this trip opened my eyes up to poverty and has made me more appreciative of being an Australian. To be highly educated and to have choice in life is something I don’t take for granted anymore. One piece of advice for anyone reading this article is to go and travel to Africa as it will immediately change your perspective of the world we live in. If you decide to be adventurous, the life lesson of being appreciative with everything will be implemented in your daily life and that is why it’s important.