Arnica and Jason’s Fundraising Campaign: Literacy Library for the Love and Hope Centre

The one request we had directly from the folks in Ethiopia was for reading books for the Love and Hope Centre study groups. You see, 70 kids come to the centre in Addis Ababa each day, for a hot meal, showers, after school tutoring, counselling, medical care and a safe place to play. Education is the corn stone of the centre, and it’s the only way that these children will break out of the cycle of poverty.


Oddly enough, English is very important to learn, even if it isn’t an official indigenous language. English is essential for the kids to go on to post secondary, and it is extremely valuable in a number of professions. So the kids are tutored in English.

But… They need books.

And not just any books. The kids need levelled readers, in groups of 10. You see, they study in groups, so 10 of the same book is really helpful.


If you would like to help us fill up our adult-sized bags (as opposed to the kids… See below!) please consider making a donation to our Literacy Library campaign. We have a goal of $500. Jason and I will take the readers over in our bags (the next trip too, if we raise that much money!) so the kids at the Love and Hope Centre in Ethiopia can study. We have a special deal with Scholastic to buy the readers at 50% off, so your donation will go very far indeed!

Thanks for donationing!

Sugar and Spice’s Donation Campaign: Love and Hope Centre in Addis Ababa


When we heard that our 70 kids at the Love and Hope Centre in Addis Ababa could use extra health and sanitation items, the girls thought that would be the perfect thing to fill their bags for Ethiopia. They are going to be collecting toothbrushes, toothpaste, multivitamins, underwear, and first aide supplies for the children.

So they put together their own donation campaign… I just typed up the text. The girls decorated their posters for the school lobby and designed handouts. Don’t you love their creativity?


I think it is so important to let them do this campaign by themselves. It’s amazing what a little trust and empowerment in seven-year-olds can enable them to do!

If you would like to donate to their campaign, please contact us with a comment below before the end of January. The sooner the better, please. 🙂 Then we will know how many bags we will be taking!

Great Guest House in Central Addis Location

After one false start at a bad location, we managed to find a great guest house in an amazing location in Addis: DS Guest House. Previously, we’ve stayed at the Weygoss Guest House for extended stays, and it is still a good option for adoptive families or Addis first-timers. However, we are not first timers, and we wanted something more central, away from the Bole construction chaos… and better value for the dollar (birr).

This little guest house has been our home for two weeks, and we are definitely coming back!

The best two things about the guest house are the staff and the location. The staff is super nice… The cook and cleaner Getu is a really nice friendly lady; the guard Asanage is a real cutester with a smile of gold and the warmest “Welcome!” every time he lets us in. The manager Zerihun used to be a guard five years ago, but by sheer hard work became the manager and is running a great little home. He’s pretty entrepreneurial, so he is just short of having his professional drivers licence so he can do tours. He’s also got some English lessons lined up, which should help with many customers.

The location is 90% fabulous. It’s right in howlet neighbourhood, across the street form the Axum Hotel, just off Haile Gebre Selassie Avenue. It’s an up and coming neighbourhood, with lots of shops, bank machines, coffee places etc. just two minutes’ walk away. We held countless meetings at the Kaldis just down the street. There are two bank machines right across the avenue that worked on occasion for all of us. A local pizzeria a two minute walk away was a great option for emergency meals, and the supermarket, open late, provided us with yogurt and even cheap Italian wine. Our favourite bar for tibs, Elsa, is also right around the corner.

The only downside of the location is that – the bars. Consider this neighbourhood like a downtown in a modern Canadian city… Often less frequented at night. The only real businesses going on after 9pm are bars and the “oldest profession.” So you want to either cab it, or be at home, at night.

That said, it’s super easy to catch cabs or minibuses to almost anywhere. The other side is that it’s easy for cabs to find their way back, which means less ambiguous fare estimations and clearer negotiations. Our meeting partners also found it very easy to come to our hood any time we wanted to get together too.

There is a long L shaped driveway (newly cobbled) back from the street to the big green gates. Note that the signage is pretty horrible for the guest house, so look for a lamp on a sign that says guest house, or tell your driver it is behind the kitfo place. Inside the gate, there is a little house that they call the “apartment” with two bedrooms, as well as four rooms in a row with private baths. The whole compound is surrounded by the typical high walls, but is full of green plants, a few places to sit outside, staff house, staff kitchen, and a fair sized courtyard. The WIFI router is in between the row of rooms and the apartment, so you can get WIFI somewhat regularly, as long as the cellphone network is working.


Tawnya and I stayed in a private room for the first few days while our elders were in the apartment. The single room (queen bed) was spacious, had a reasonably comfortable bed, a desk, a wardrobe, and a private bath. The shower was a bit splashy but thanks to an instant hot water heater, it was always hot. Low water pressure, but hot.

We were happy to move into the apartment later. The little house has a living and dining room, as well as a small kitchen, which has doors into the house and into the courtyard. There are the two bedrooms with hard double and 3/4 sized beds, and nice big wardrobes for bags. The bathroom is also splashy, despite the dolphin shower curtain and the sunk shower base, but the water is hot and has a lovely stream in the shower. Yeah! Hot showers are not something I take for granted in Ethiopia.







At the time of writing, the standard fare was $29 for a single room, $55 for the apartment. Breakfast is included… You order the night before. I highly recommend the chocolate croissants! Of course, negotiate for an extended stay.

Probably the only downsides of the guest house are the nightlife, a shortage of towels, occasional cooking smells, the door that won’t close easily. Also, they clean with Dettol, so everything is sterile, but the floor is sometimes gritty.

I highly recommend it! Feel free to mention my name when you book (Arnica) so I have a great deal waiting for me on my next trip! Lol

Contact: Zerihun, the manager : 0913 305 652 or 0925 413 539. Remember you have to drop the 0 from some places in Ethiopia. From Canada or the US, you drop the 0 and add 011-251 at the beginning. He has email but I have no idea if he checks / answers it:

Directions for a driver / taxi. Close to Axum Hotel in howlet on Haile Gebre Selassie. Turn off the HGS at the supermarket across from the Axum Hotel. It’s the first black gate (to the driveway) on the right.20130509-183347.jpg



My favorite things: Boston day spa

As I am dictating this blog post, the bottoms of my feet are being worked over by a pomace. After a wonderful massage in the grotto downstairs, I am having my first manicure and pedicure for years. Of course, I am not giving that much to work with, as I have gardener’s fingernails and toenails. But that is beside the point.

Every time I come to Ethiopia, I go to Boston Day Spa at least once. It is wonderfully Ethiopian spa that is on the same level as any Western spa. When you enter there is a lovely reception.

The booking agents and the receptionist all speak wonderful English and a variety of other languages. So you can call in for a reservation. Then you can go downstairs for a wonderful massage. It’s like a cave in each massage room. First you get a footbath, and then a wonderful massage. Today my masseuse was really experienced and helped unknot my shoulder. Note that Ethiopian massages are very.. er,.. extensive. Nothing inappropriate, but check your modesty at the door.

Some helpful words for massages:
Kahss – soft
Tchan – hard

After after you pay for your massage, you go up a couple floors past the bar where you can get wonderful Spanish and Italian wine, past Lime Tree Restaurant (a great place for lunch later) and then to the third floor where they do manicures and pedicures. The service is excellent and the prices are insanely reasonable compared to Canada.

Overall, I highly recommend spending the morning or afternoon there.

My first trip to Ethiopia for Vulnerable Children Society, Pam, one of our directors, advise me to get a massage halfway through. She runs an organization called Swazi kids and makes trips like this all the time. Pam was so right… The pace is intense the work is emotional and difficult. So it was perfectly appropriate to stop and take a day off and recharge. I also highly recommend going to the spa to new Ethiopian adoptive parents. Taking care of strange kids that you just met a week before can be entirely exhausting. 🙂 So get a babysitter, and go recharge your batteries.

I highly recommend… Boston Day Spa!
BOSTON BUILDING, BOLE ROAD (tell that to the taxi)
0913 323 878