July 11th – August 14th, 2019
I feel as though some of you guys had the question on the title of this blog… How the hell did Isabella appear on BBC Afanoromo a few months ago?
And I feel as though…. that is a great question… But unfortunately, there is no real reason as to why..
It was pure luck..
Let me set the stage of how it went down.
I was on my way from Addis to Jimma on one of the nicer charter buses that frequently run. When the bus started moving at that 5 am mark, I noticed that there were empty seats (That rarely happens) So I asked in Afanoromo to the people surrounding me if I could switch seats and sit up a little further where there were two empty seats. (This girl was looking to get COMFFYYYY, if ya know what I mean) As I did, the girl next to me didn’t speak Afanoromo so she looked at me like I was an alien with her big brown eyes wide open that said “Stay clear!” But a gentleman in the seat in front of us turned around and said “Yea you can sit here” in Afanoromo.
The rest of the trip was quiet as I listened to music and podcast and sprawled out on my two seats. Living the freaking dream. TWO WHOLE SEATS TO MYSELF??? It was going to be a good day. When we arrived in Jimma I was stopped by that same gentleman and he asked what I was doing in Jimma and then how did I know Afanoromo. I told him who I was and what I was doing out in these parts of Ethiopia and his eyes danced with excitement. He seemed to be in a rush to get back to the charter bus as it was heading to another town, so he looked at it and then turns back to me and speaks to me in fluent English (Which is a RARITY…. it was quite the day of rare occurrences) then he proceeded to tell me his name was Yadata and that he works for BBC Afanoromo. He then states that he would love to do a story on me if I wanted. I looked at him with my jaw on the floor…what was happening?? Where am I?? I tried to keep my cool, and gave him my number and said
“I will be in Jimma tonight and tomorrow.”
“Thanks! I am heading to see family in Mizan and will be back this way…I will be in touch” he said.
I walked off with a scrunched face rubbing my head like WTF just happened. I shook it off and continued with my day. I honestly didn’t really think he was going to follow through, I didn’t think me speaking Afanoromo and living here was that big of a deal, but before I knew it I received a text from him trying to coordinate when he could come to Chime.
He was completely serious.
So he came back the next day and we spent the next evening together getting to know each other in Jimma (how he started working for the BBC and how I ended up in rural Ethiopia) and then we traveled the following morning to Chime together.
He had let me know that he didn’t have his accurate filming gear but that he was going to use his Iphone to record me. He also told me that if he wasn’t near me, for me to continue doing what I would normally do and that he was probably just recording me. He wanted to make it all as real as possible.
Not going to lie, at first I felt pretty funky about it, and I would accidentally look back at him and see him filming me, but quickly told myself to get over it and act normal. He was also very good at whipping out his phone and recording in the snap of a finger, half the time I wouldn’t even know he was recording and would look at him and be like “Oops! Shit!” So sneaky he was.
We arrived in Chime and I showed him my compound, the health center, the school (Where at the time I was doing most of my work) introduced him to the teachers etc. He then claimed that he wanted to see me in action in my clubs so luckily the next day was a Thursday so he could take part.
He then went on to interviewing some of the teachers about me, then people in my compound to get their take on having a forengie living in their town. One who is an active participant, learning the language, and culture.
Then we all saw him off the next day and I went back to doing my own thing.
Time passed and I kind of forgot about it, I thought that it wouldn’t be posted for a while if at all because I knew he was busy, But within a month or so, he had let me know that it was posted on BBC Afanoromo and sent me the link…
The hard part about all of this, was that as a producer, he wouldn’t let me see any of the videos he had taken. So I had no idea what the video would look like, what pieces he kept and didn’t keep so when I hit the play button on the video…The butterflies in my stomach were going haywire and I felt a twinge of embarrassment bubble up…what if I made a fool of myself??
I watched…and oh my goodness..
I was smiling the entire time.
I loved what he had created, it was magical to capture my life here so well. Not only that, but it is a video that I can return to time after time, it can be with me forever and for that I felt so lucky.
I wiped my happy tears away and took a shower. I had planned to share it with a few Peace Corps Staff members, however, by the time I came out of the shower, my phone was blowing up. A staff member saw it on Facebook and shared it with the entire staff. I was thrown back . I didn’t think anyone would really see it but the views and shares were quickly adding up and it was blowing my mind. I had no idea.
A couple weeks later, on multiple occasions, I would be sitting in Jimma at a public area and people would look at me, then pull up the video and turn around their phone towards me and ask if it was me while everyone was crowded around watching it.
This part was very embarrassing, but I laughed and told them…Nope not me. HA!
But the overall feel from the video was a very, very positive one.
I know most of you are curious as to what the Video talks about and wanted an English Translation… I know its a bit late, but I felt weird at first about it being so public and didn’t have much time to sit and write it, but with out further ado…
The video starts with me greeting someone from off the streets that calls out to me “Izzy!” (This was not only because they saw Yadata filming me, it is a normal occurrence for people to yell out to greet me when they see me) and I reply “Nagadha, Fayadha” then laugh and apologize “Dhifamma!” (Sorry!) to Yadata because it happened mid interview.
The video then reads “Izi Mulensi hojii tola-oltummaa Piskooriif Amerikaaraa dhuftee”
Izzy Mullins is a volunteer with Peace Corps from America
“Jimma Ganda Ciimmee Jedhamtu keessa waggaa tokoof jiraatteentti.”
She has lived in Chime for one year.
“Afaan Oromoon hawaasa waliin sirriitti waliigalaa dalagdi.”
On her way home she speaks/performs Afan oromo correctly with the community.
Then I start talking:
“Ani Barsiftuu fayyaa hawaasaadha.”
I am a community health teacher.
“Wa’ee sirna nyaataa akkasumas qulqulina qaamaafi naannoo, nan barsiisa.”
I teach about nutrition, also sanitation and hygiene.
The clip states:
“Turtii waggaa tokkoon hawaasa biratti kan jaalatamte Iiziin…Jaalalli maatii yoo jiraate jireenyi salpha akka ta’u…”
She has lived here for one year and has learned the community and likes it… living with this family has made it easy to live here.
Then I speak:
“Namni moorakoo keessaa hundumtuu maatiidha…. Yommuun jalqaba as dhufe, isaantu waa hunda na gargare, waan hundumaa…Akkamitu biddeen akkan tolchu, buna danfisu, Afaan Oromoos nama hundatu na barsiise.”
The people in this compound are all my family, when I first came here they helped me with everything…Everything. How can I now make Injera, how can I make coffee (in their traditional way), and everyone has taught me Afaan Oromo.
I then say:
“Maaltu barbaachisaadha?… Namaafi, maatii wajjiin yeroo baay’ee ta’uutu barbaachisaadha…Manna guddaafi waan hundi toluun barbaachisaa miti…Asii rakkoon hin jiru, namni hunduu bareeddhuudha…Yero darbe na dhukkubee ture, baay’ee na dhukkube. Maatiin hunduu manakoo keessa turani. Isaanis, biddeen barbaadaa? Bishaan qabdaa? Akkas naan jedhani…Waggaa tokkon as ture, isaan maatiikoo dha.
What is important? People, being with family, that is important. Having a big house, or a lot of things is not important. There is no problem here, all the people are wonderful. A while ago, I was sick, very sick. The whole family came to my house asking me if I wanted Injera, if I had water. I have been here one year and they are my family.
The video then reads:
“Iiziin maatii bira jiraatuuf maalidha?”
What is it like for the family for Izzy to live here?
The video then goes to a clip of the compound mom talking she says:
“Mucaa hiriyaashii qaba, dhiiras durbas, kun hundinuu kooti galata Rabbii…Akkuma mucaakoottan ilaalaa, ishiinis akka haadhashiiti na ilaalti.”
She has friends that are all my children, both boys and girls, thanks to Rabii, She is like my child and I am like her mother.
The video then states: “Fulduratti…”
In the future
“Karoorrikoo, mana barumsaa keessatti bakka harka dhiqanna ijaaruun barbaada…Gumii Ingliffaa qaba. Lamadha, tokko kutaa sagal wajjiin, kanbiraa kutaa 5-8. Torbee keessaatti guyya lamaaf. Akkasumas gumii shamarranii wajjiin, waa’ee jireenyaa, waa’ee HIV, waa’ee laguu fi waan hundumaa isaan barsiisuun barbaada.”
My plan is to build a washing station at the school, I have two English clubs, one with grade 9 and one with grade 5-8 every week I teach them two times a week. I also have a girls club that I teach about life, HIV, about periods, about everything that they want to learn about.
The video states:
“Barsiisonni waliin hojjata Afaan Oromoo dubbachuun ishee…hedduu akka jaalatamtu ishee taasiseera jedhu.”
She works with teachers and speaks Afanoromo with them. She likes and fits in with them.
From there they interview a teacher that I work a lot with and he says:
“Dur faranjoonni yeroo biyyaa keenya dhufan, ummanni akka addatti ilaalaan ture. Maaliif? Afaan hin beekani waan ta’eefi. Ummanni keenya ammoo namoota afan isaniittiin dubbatanitti siquu barbaada. Gadi buutee barattoota ofitti hammattee Afaan Oromoodhan, barattoota waliin dubbi isheen gootu, akka barsiisaatis akka mana barumsattis baay’ee ajaa’ibsifanna.
In the past forengies have come to our country, especially to look at our communities. Why, because they don’t know our language. Our people love those who speak their language (want to be friends/are friendly with). I personally as a teacher and also the whole school, we admire her when she humbly hugs the students and talks to them in Afaan Oromoo.
The video then states:
“Biyyasheetti deebitee galuu gaafa yaaddu maaltu itti dhaga’ama?”
What does she think and feel about the day she has to return to her country?
“Baay’ee rakkisaadha, akkamittan galuu danda’a? Kanaafuu, galuu hin barbaadu.”
It is going to be very difficult, how can I go home? Therefore I do not want to.
Then I let out a chortle and the video ends.
Da Da da DAAAAAAA
As I have mentioned in other blog posts… for a little clarification of the last comment..it is not that I do not want to go home, but it will be one of the most bittersweet experiences of my life to go home in 7 months. It will be an amazing reunion with the people I love, I daydream about this frequently, but it will also be a great sorrow at the same time, leaving the relationships I have built here, the life I have built here.. I almost can’t even think about it.
Anyhow! No time for sappy sap.
I hope this video helped everyone have an idea of how the video played out.
Get ready to hear about camp in a few weeks! I am SO friggin excited for this!
As always, much love!