Project Mercy: Mar. 1-Getting to Project Mercy - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Project Mercy: Mar. 1-Getting to Project Mercy


Mark and I met up with the Gundersen group at breakfast. We did introductions and feasted on omelets, some sort of breakfast egg roll thing, yogurt, and coffee; lots and lots of coffee. Ethiopia is known as the birthplace of coffee. I didn’t have any on the way there. Ethiopian coffee is dark, and strong but very smooth. Believe me; it was worth the wait. I had three cups, not only because it was good, but because I needed the caffeine!

When the Gundersen group landed the night before, the luggage door on their plane jammed shut during a hard landing. A crew in Ethiopia couldn’t open it, so they sent the plane back to Kenya with their luggage and medical supplies still inside! Thankfully it made it back to the Addis airport the next day.

A tour guide company loaded all of our luggage (32 pieces in all) on top of two vans. I’d never seen anything like it. We were afraid the vans would bottom out. Our guides assured us we would be okay. And just like that, we were on the road to Yetebon and Project Mercy.

The two hour drive to Project Mercy was incredible. Ethiopia is a beautiful country surrounded by mountains. Once we left the capital city, we saw a number of small farms. Ethiopians use cattle to thresh. They also tend goats. It’s common to find both cows and goats just hanging out in the middle of the street! The animals seem a lot smarter than our deer. They stand still in the middle of the road and when you beep, they will move out of the way.

The highlight of the trip to Yetebon also involved animals; but these were a little more exotic. Off in a farm field we saw about a dozen camels! We also came across a family of baboons just hanging out on the side of the road. I tried to get a picture, but when we slowed down they ran off into the woods.

We arrived at Project Mercy around 5 p.m. local time. The “compound” as they call it, is 52 acres in size and includes a school, kitchen facility, dorms, two huge gardens, pasture, and sports fields. All of the buildings have an open air type of feel. They are brightly colored and have very tall ceilings. The buildings we are staying in are called tukuls. The tukul is the traditional home. It’s a round building with a very tall roof. Outside the compound they are made of eucalyptus. Our tukul is concrete with a steel roof. I’m sharing a tukul with two Gundersen nurses; Laurie and Deb. We’ve already come up with a plan for showering and blow-drying our hair. The electricity is not reliable. We’ve been warned it goes out often.

The sun here is very intense. One day here and I’m already sunburned. I did put sunscreen on three times, but it wasn’t enough. I’m fair skinned to begin with and I’m taking doxyclycline to prevent malaria. Doxy makes you sun sensitive. My face and arms are pretty red. I will definitely have a “farmer’s tan” when I get home. I’m not complaining. The winter has been cold and nasty. The sun and even sunburn are welcome sights. I plan on wearing lots and lots of sunscreen for the rest of my time here.

Dinner was outstanding; Soup, bread, and salad; all of which was grown and cooked here on the compound. Everything is fresh and organic; absolutely incredible!

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