Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have resources to help me support raise?
Am I allowed to create a blog or website?
Yes. Blogs, websites and FaceBook are an excellent method of communication with friends, family and supporters - be as creative as you like. Do be aware that electronic media is a very public arena, easily accessed by anyone including your friends family and supporters, but also our Ethiopian colleagues, government officials and the general public. Please be sure to use sensitivity, even to the point of being extra cautious, in how you portray Ethiopia, government policies and the situation here. In fact, we would recommend you refrain from commenting on Ethiopian politics out of respect for our host country in which we are guests.
When do I need to arrive?
For the 2019-2020 school year we are asking all incoming staff to arrive on August 3rd or 4th. Please do not book tickets before receiving confirmation from Jemma Fifield.
What kind of clothes do I need to wear?
The dress code for work at Bingham Academy is casual professional. Please don't wear clothes that are very tight, that are low-cut or display the midriff. It is inappropriate for décolletage, torso or undergarments to be on display - so avoid clothes that become more revealing when you sit or kneel. Spaghetti straps are also inappropriate both culturally and professionally. Modest sleeveless tops are acceptable on campus. Skirts should be knee length or below.
For special occasions such as graduation, banquet and evenings out it's nice to have some more formal attire or "going out" clothes.
Throughout Ethiopia dress codes vary enormously, although this is less strict for expatriates. It's best to take your cues from Ethiopian Christians around you as to what is appropriate. It is rare for women to be required to cover their heads, except when visiting some Orthodox Christian or Muslim sites of tourist interest. You will be made aware if this is the case.
MEN: in and around Addis
Casual dress is acceptable but it's best to wear a jacket and tie if dealing with government officials; going to weddings or funerals; or at speaking engagements. Shorts can be worn on compound but generally are not worn by Ethiopian men and should be avoided in the city. Sleeveless tops are not appropriate outside of the compound.
Women: in and around Addis
Pants/trousers and jeans are acceptable for women in Addis. Modest sleeveless tops or dresses are acceptable but spaghetti straps and shoulderless garments should be avoided. Skirt length should be modest. Shorts can be worn on compound but should not be worn out in the city.
Women: Outside of Addis
Generally it is not appropriate for trousers/pants, jeans or shorts to be worn by women outside of Addis. Modest sleeveless tops may be worn. Skirts should be below the knee and in some areas to the ankle. Please wear one-piece bathing suits whilst in Ethiopia.
Men: Outside of Addis
Generally, the further out of Addis you go the warmer it gets. For men both trousers/pants and shorts are acceptable down-country.
What sort of food is available to buy?
Fresh fruit: bananas, pineapple, mango, papaya, cantaloupe, watermelon, limes, strawberries, raspberries and oranges can be found almost all year. Plums can be found at seasonal times, Grapes, pears, apples and kiwi fruit are all imported and can be purchased if you're prepared to pay the price!
Vegetables and salad: Lettuce, cabbage, spinach, fennel, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, beetroot, artichokes, okra, green beans, cauliflower, zucchini/courgette, cucumbers, aubergine/eggplant, broccoli, bell pepper/capsicum, leeks, green chillies, avocados and corn on the cob can all be regularly found throughout the city. Pumpkin and butternut squash can be bought seasonally. Fresh green herbs are available in many supermarkets.
Meat and Fish: Ground beef/minced beef, stewing beef, mutton and goat are readily available fresh throughout the city. Frozen whole chicken, chicken on the bone and chicken breast can be easily found in supermarkets. Frozen tilapia and Nile perch are also readily available in supermarkets. Canned chicken, sardines and tuna are often available in supermarkets. Pork products such as sausage, ham and salami can be bought from Fantu and Novis supermarkets.
Canned goods: Mushrooms, corn, tomatoes, tomato paste, peas, chickpeas, baked beans, butter beans, a wide variety of fruits and fruit juices and olives can all be found regularly. Other items in jars and cans come and go but pasta sauce, pickled onions, asparagus, olives and sweet red peppers can usually be found. Local and imported jams, peanut butters and chocolate spreads are commonly found.
Dairy: locally produced milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, provolone cheese and butter are usually available throughout the city. Opinions vary greatly as to how palatable to the expatriate taste the different brands of each are! The best thing to do is try a selection and decide for yourself. Imported cheeses, UHT milk, cream, butter and yoghurt come and go in the supermarkets and are always priced at a premium.
Dry goods: Rice, a variety of pastas and beans, flour, lentils, chickpeas, some spices, salt, bouillon, powdered soups, instant noodles, crackers and cookies are usually available. Sugar has been in very short supply lately.
Bread and snacks: Locally produced bread rolls and loaves are delicious and very cheap. Injera (Ethiopian bread-like staple) is also readily available. Local snacks can be bought easily including cookies, potato chips, kollo (a mix of roasted seeds and nuts) and candy. Imported chocolate, potato chips, candy and cookies can also be purchased in supermarkets if you're happy to pay the higher prices.
Baking: Plain flour, icing sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, sultanas, apricots, dates, some food colourings, vanilla essence and cooking chocolate, baking powder and baking soda are all usually available. There is no castor/superfine sugar or self-raising flour available. Specialist baking decorations and other supplies are usually not available. Chocolate chips are never found here!
Processed foods: There are very few "quick fix" foods available although chicken nuggets and breaded strips have been sometimes available. Most meals will be made from scratch and this, along with the need to bleach all fruits and vegetables before use, can lead to longer preparation times than you might be used to.
Can I drink the tap water?
Water supplies in Ethiopia are often contaminated with bacteria, viruses and/or parasites. Do not drink tap water or use it for brushing your teeth. On campus we have 3 taps which provide access to drinking water which has been filtered and treated with UV light. Each apartment has jerry cans to collect drinking water. Often staff will also buy a cooler or similar to store this in for daily use, but it is not necessary for the safety of the water.
Why do I have to bleach my fruits and vegetables?
The farming processes in Ethiopia mean that fruits and vegetables are often contaminated with dirt that can contain human faeces. Special precautions should be taken before eating in order to avoid tummy upsets.
It's advisable to wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly, scrubbing with a soft brush in order to remove the dirt which can be home to bacteria, amoeba and parasite eggs. Once visibly clean, vegetables and fruits should be soaked in a strong chlorine solution - the water should feel slippery if it contains sufficient bleach. Soak for 20-30 minutes and then rinse off the bleach solution with drinking water.
Is Internet Available?
The answer to this is, "usually but moderate your expectations!" Bingham Academy has WiFi across the campus which extends to all apartments. Our IT department will help you with getting online as Bingham has a firewall which needs to be navigated first. As with any developing nation, internet speeds can vary and there are times when internet access is restricted for governmental reasons - such as to protect the integrity of the national exams. The infrastructure which provides internet to the school is also prone to problems. Smartphones with a 3G capacity can be effective, if expensive ways to access the internet when there are short-term issues with the WiFi.
Should I bring my cell/mobile phone?
Mobile/cell phones are used everywhere in Ethiopia, much more so than fixed landlines. There is only one provider in the country - EthioTel - this is a GSM network and so phones must be able to receive a SIM card to work here. Bringing your own phone is absolutely fine - just make sure that it's unlocked and can be used with any network before you arrive or it won't be able to switch to EthioTel coverage. Cheaper, lower quality phones can be purchased in country and these are automatically registered. If you are bringing a phone into the country then you need to stop at the airport after Baggage Claim and register the phone with the government. If you don't do this and you put in a local SIM card, it will just lock up. Each person may register one mobile phone free of charge.
Your buddy will help you to get an EthioTel SIM card for your phone, it's straightforward, quick and only costs around $2 to do so. You top up your credit by purchasing cards - there is a souk ( a small market stall) which sells them right outside the school. Using your phone for texts and phone calls is very affordable - $3 will last a week or two with moderate use. Using 3G data to browse the internet will eat up your credit very quickly, but sometimes when there are internet problems it's worth it to be in touch with people!
What is the postal system like?
There is no door-to-door post in Ethiopia. All incoming mail is delivered to the main post office in Addis Ababa and then individuals collect it from there. At Bingham we are fortunate in that an SIM employee goes to the post office each week to check for Bingham Academy mail and then it is brought back to Bingham when someone from SIM HQ is heading this way - Bingham staff only rarely need to go to the post office themselves. The system is reasoably reliable although there can be delays. Friends and family can send mail and parcels to you at
c/o Bingham Academy
PO Box 4937
Please be aware that medicines or medical supplies should not be sent through the post. They will be confiscated and this can also cause embarrassment for the school.
The outgoing postal system works in a similar way. Postage is comparatively cheap and you can mail letters and small parcels from the Bingham Academy office. The outgoing postbag is collected once a week by an SIM employee and taken to the main post office.
Should I bring a laptop?
It is usually more convenient for staff and family members to have access to their own laptop computer for both work and personal uses. There are desk top computers available in the teacher work areas for communal use. Laptops do not need to be registered.
Will my laptop connect to the Bingham projectors?
Bingham projectors are sometimes have VGA and other times have HDMI connections. If your laptop is not able to accept both types of cable you will need to bring an adaptor with you.
What voltage is used in Ethiopia?
Ethiopia has a 220V system. Any 110V appliances you are bringing with you will need transformers, not just plug adaptors. These can be bought in the city but it can be just as easy to buy the whole appliance with the right voltage after arrival. The plug type here is the European style 2-prong so you may need to bring with you so plug adaptors for any 220-240V appliances you're bringing.
Are there restaurants in Addis?
Yes! There are many restaurants in the city. In the past 5 years there has been an explosion of good quality and affordable places to eat. As well as being able to eat excellent Ethiopian food you will also find French, Indian, British, Greek, North American, Middle Eastern, Italian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Armenian restaurants across the city. You will quickly learn which are highly rated by expatriates and as you're here a while you'll be able to offer your own new finds to others!
Where can I go to church?
There are a variety of international churches in the city. You'll be given information about each of them when you arrive. We would usually recommend that you try a few and see where you fit best. You will have help to get to church your first few weeks so you can try them out.
Do I need to bring teaching supplies with me?
Bingham Academy follows the Cambridge International Examinations Curriculum. If you have used this curriculum before and have lessons or materials you like to use, you are welcome to bring them. Otherwise you should find all you need here at the school. There may be items that you like to use as teaching aids (stickers, props etc.) that may not easily be available here.
For questions about classes and curriculum, please contact the relevant Principal.
Elementary School: firstname.lastname@example.org
Middle and High School: email@example.com
What is the school year like? How does a typical school day run?
The Bingham Academy school year runs from August to June. A school calendar will be issued to you during orientation for the upcoming academic year.
The school day is broken in to 6 teaching periods with breaks for morning recess and lunch. The day begins at 7.45am with staff devotions, classes begin at 8.10am and the final lesson of the day ends at 3.25pm. Extra curricular activities are usually scheduled from 3.30pm until 5.00pm.
Department and whole staff meeting time is on Wednesday from 3.30pm until 5.00pm.
Are there opportunities for exercise and sport?
Bingham Academy has a sports hall / gym which is well-used by staff outside of teaching hours. Depending on the interest there are indoor facilities for soccer, hockey, basketball, volleyball, badminton and squash. There is a room above the gym which contains some gym equipment and free weights which staff are free to use by signing out the key.
For most of the year outdoor exercise is also possible. Around the perimeter of the campus there's a cross-country track which is just short of 1km for walking and running. The field is also well used for social sports such as soccer, rounders, cricket, tag rugby, ultimate frisbee and other staff-organised games.
There are several gyms across the city where weight training, gym equipment and group classes are available.
What is the cost of living like?
Your mission will help you to set a budget. As a guide you could expect living expenses to be around USD500 per adult per month and a proportional amount for children. This should cover the cost of food, giving, ministry related expenses, transport and entertainment.