Kate's Writing Blog

The Literary Review

I subscribe to The Literary Review, which I find a stimulating and informative read.

The last December/January issue did not reach me and I presumed it had been lost or stolen en route to my PO box. I intended to write to the subscriptions department and ask if they could send me a replacement, but I never got round to doing it.

The Literary Review
Today I spent over an hour in Debark Post Office collecting and sending off post. I was about to leave when something caught my eye. It was the distinctive cover design of The Literary Review poking out of a heap of papers in a corner of the room. I passed between the counter and the postal worker’s desk to reach the pile. When I pulled the magazine out, I was delighted to see that it was the missing issue. Making little effort to conceal my indignation, I insisted on checking through the entire pile of documents to see if any other items of post were there. I found ten envelopes addressed to other people and set them to one side for the postal worker to place in the appropriate PO boxes.

This experience shows how disorganisation in the Ethiopian Postal Service can lead to undelivered post. I know of two letters sent from abroad last year that did not reach me; on the other hand, packets and parcels arrive without any problem because they are larger and more difficult to mislay.

Debark Post Office (far left)
Debark Post Office (far left)

(Post Script: Debark Post Office has since moved to another location not far away.)

I am working on Assignment 3 for Lifelines. For this assignment I have to write 2,000 words about two "moments of consequence" in my life.

For the first part, I have chosen 5 December 1994, the day I saw a BBC2 News documentary about the plight of Addis Ababa’s street children. As a result of this news report by Michael Buerk, I booked a flight to Ethiopia that Christmas.

For the second part, I am writing about meeting Kindu in Gondar on St Valentine’s Day 1998. A destitute street boy, Kindu was the inspiration for The Kindu Trust, which I set up upon my return to England. The following year I gave up my job as a Project Controller for a Germany telecommunications company to run The Kindu Trust full-time on a voluntary basis. Since then the Trust has raised more than £1 million to help and improve the prospects of poor children in Ethiopia. Kindu was seven years old when I met him; he is now 21 and studying Engineering at Bahir Dar University.

Depending on the severity of the rains (the rainy season began recently), mudslides and electricity cuts, and whether or not I manage to stop rats getting into my office and chewing the cables of my computer equipment, I aim to submit Assignment 3 to my tutor by the end of June.

Meanwhile, I continue to keep up my journal, recording day-to-day life in my village, and noting down local news.
  • A young woman and mother of three hangs herself from a tree in an idyllic spot after her husband takes up with another woman.
  • A farmer in the countryside shoots and kills six members of his brother’s family because of a long-running land dispute.
  • When a bank transfers cash by Land Cruiser from Debark to the north, a highwayman attempts to steal the 2 million birr.
I collect these stories not only for my autobiography but also because they provide material for short stories set in Ethiopia.