The anticipated day has come, the day that has been boxed and highlighted in my calendar since the day we arrived here in Welisso, the day of site announcements. I have been assigned to work in Debremarkos, a large town of about 120,000 people located halfway between Addis Ababa and Bahirdar on the main highway. Debremarkos used to serve as the regional capital of Amhara and is now one of the four major cities in the region. Situated around the Choke Mountains and just beyond the Blue Nile Gorge, it sits at about 2300 meters elevation and enjoys relatively temperate weather.
I have been assigned to Debremarkos along with another volunteer named KB, a physical therapist with now ten years of clinical work experience. She will be placed with an organization called World Learning that works mainly to provide support to orphans and vulnerable children. Meanwhile (in theory, at least), I will be working with the regional and zonal HAPCOs (HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Offices), as well as local NGOs, to identify gaps and coordinate services for the creation of a seamless network of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and support.
And that’s all I have for the time being: a name, a map dot, and some basic site survey information collected by Peace Corps. I will spend next week in Debremarkos, however, making initial contacts and taking care of some housekeeping tasks, and I will be able to paint a better picture after that. Until that time, I cannot really know how to feel about my assignment, and so, as is always the drill in Peace Corps, I remain flexible.