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Jess' Blog No.12 - Day 6 On yer bike!

By Jessica Wilkes-Reading

Jess' Blog No.12 - Day 6 On yer bike!

Wesleyan's CR and Charity Coordinator Jessica Wilkes-Reading, and retired dentist and Wesleyan customer Jane Innes-Rees have been in Ethiopia visiting various projects to see what support people from the UK are providing - and what more can be done.

Today, Jess meets a former pro-cyclist who helps a group of homeless children get off the streets.

Ethiopia is three hours ahead of GMT. Well, kind of...

You see, it gets complicated. Almost all Ethiopians use a 12-hour clock, with one cycle running 1 to 12 from dawn to dusk, and the other cycle from dusk to dawn. This means the start of a new day is dawn, rather than midnight, which is beautifully poetic, but also deeply confusing.

So, for example, 7am in East Africa Time (GMT +3) is 1.00 in daylight hours in local Ethiopian time. 12 noon EAT is 6.00 in daylight hours, and 6pm EAT is 12.00 in local time.

And technically, the year isn't 2016 here, it's 2009. My migraine from yesterday is returning just thinking about it and I can only assume this is what The Doctor's companions must feel like every time they step out of the TARDIS...

Nevertheless, we were up bleary eyed at what our European watches declared to be 6am so we could meet Mulbrahan and his gang of young cyclists at 7am to see them in training.

I'm pleased to say it was worth the early start! What an incredible morning, we headed out in a Bajaj, a small blue Tuk-Tuk driven by our friend Azmeron. We parked on the outskirts of town outside a huge factory we sat and waited... And then, out of the blue, all of these children on bikes in full cycling kit powered towards us!

Mulbrahan was so close to being a top cyclist after winning three stages in the Tour of Rwanda, but the funding is so hard to come by here he never quite made it. Instead he now fixes mobile phones to provide for his wife and young baby, and in his spare time helps young people who come from a wide variety of backgrounds.

He has supported homeless children, many of them becoming shoe shiners, which is what he did to make money to support his family and to purchase his first bike. He works tirelessly to support these children and has found homes for so many to get them off the streets and in to safe and stable homes.

We bade Mulbrahan and the youngsters farewell then Colleen, Chris, Simone and I went venturing to the market.


Simone and I climbed into Bajaj and asked to go to the market. We ended up at a supermarket! So we abandoned that Bajaj, jumped in another only to find this driver didn't know where we meant either!

So, spotting some very smartly dressed men who we hoped would speak English, we pulled over. They were able to translate for us we finally got to the traditional market. It was amazing, full of fabric, flowers, food, household goods and chickens! As you can imagine, Chris really enjoyed being dragged around by three women oohing at scarves!

That night we went to Haregewni's house. She works for the Clinton Foundation and works on improving health access in the hospital. She is very interested in hospice care and wants to visit the UK to find out more and see how it works and take back her findings back to Ethiopia to try to set something similar up in the country.

The food, again, was excellent. I was getting a real taste for Ethiopian food by this point and my levels of chilli resistance are now much higher!

As we chatted about what we've achieved so far and our work decorating the hospital's children's playroom, Hareya, the chief nurse and Haregewni's daughter Elizabeth talked to me about rolling out the imagery from the Unstoppable Maggie McGee book to all of their rural clinics! Elizabeth is going to be leading on this and keeping in touch with me on the progress, which is so exciting!

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