My Friend, Serendipity

We are starting to understand the transportation system, we are almost settled on housing, and we are starting to meet with useful contacts. We are still in the very early stages of the research process here in Addis, but the pieces are slowly but surely falling into place.

Of course, I should really emphasize the word “falling” in that phrase. I cannot say that I have been putting pieces into their rightful place, carefully selecting and arranging the parts of the puzzle into their respective slots, so much as tossing a bunch into the air and counting on some to land in the right spot. This has been true for finding housing and transportation (each search for a taxi is a roll of the dice) just as much as finding contacts for our project. We have made two solid contacts so far, and each one was an accident.

The first one was an American. The day after I arrived, I was going into my room at the hotel as he was leaving his. A little conversation began after exchanging courtesy greetings, and eventually I discovered he was in Ethiopia to help build a well in a rural village where water is very scarce. On top of showing me some good restaurants and teaching me how to use the minibus system, he said he could help Katie and I go to the village where he is working and interview the community leaders there about the water situation. An all-around good connection to make in the hotel hallway. (You can check out his NGO, Concordia Humana here)

Contact number two came from the housing search. When I came to visit the house where I am now staying, I met a young Ethiopian guy, Joel, who lived there and helped to manage the place. Lo and behold, he has helped out for a few years with a water NGO, Drop of Water, started by a group of Ethiopian women at the university in Mekele. After I looked around the place, he gave me the full story of the organization, slideshow and all, and it was immediately clear that it could be a great group to work with. Yesterday he arranged a meeting for Katie and I with the woman who runs the organization. It was an excellent meeting, short but sweet. We learned more about Drop of Water and made plans to interview them tomorrow and tag along to one of their field site visits in a couple weeks. (You should take a look at their website here)

Joel (pronounced Jo-elle), one of our first contacts

Joel (pronounced Jo-elle), one of our first contacts

We have emailed and called people in a concerted effort to make contacts, and we will email and call a lot more. The next week will be largely filled with us trying to make useful connections and purposefully putting those pieces into place. But so far, it can’t be denied that the most useful tool has been chance.


  1. #1 by janine joyce on June 19, 2014 - 7:05 am

    Hey Phoenix,
    Great to read your post about serendipity. Field research seems to be a process of connections out here in Myanmar also…
    Keep posting…we like reading how everyone is getting on. Although Wi Fi is not always reliable…or reliably unreliable.

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