*This information is intended for the use of short term teams coming to Langano. Those visiting independently can take what they need from the information. The main difference is that if you are coming independently, all meals or transportation may not be provided.

What Will We Be Doing?

It depends on the makeup of the team and the needs of the project. General plans for your team will be established ahead of time. It’s important to remember to be flexible.

How Should I Pack?

You will pack for yourself and the team. Plan space for supplies for the team’s work and for the Langano projects.  We often need teams to bring out supplies for the camp, clinic, or school, and sometimes personal items for missionaries or staff members. A general rule of thumb is to pack one bag for your personal items and leave one bag available for team use.

We will send a list of drugs that are unavailable in Ethiopia to the team leader. If you are able to collect and bring some of these meds it would be a great help to the clinic.

If you have medicines or supplies, spread them out among the team. Do not fill up suitcases with one thing. As much as possible, remove unnecessary packaging.

Never bring expired medicines. We understand that many medicines continue to be effective well past their expiration date, but the government has strict rules.

Pack any electronics or valuables in your carry on bags.

Laundry facilities are limited so pack accordingly. If you are staying longer than a week you will be able to hire a local person to hand wash your laundry (about 2 USD). It can take a couple of days for clothes to dry, so include this in your planning. Plan on re-wearing some of your clothes. Standards are a little different here! This will allow you more room in your bags for needed supplies. Linens are provided (sheets, blankets, pillows and towels). Bring your own mosquito nets.

Dress is conservative. Women wear casual skirts/dresses below the knee while at Langano.  Dress modestly. No bare midriffs, short shorts or sleeveless shirts.  Jeans are acceptable while in Addis or while on the camp grounds. Jeans or long trousers and casual shirts (not sleeveless) are appropriate for men. Bring comfortable shoes for walking. Bring a raincoat during rainy season (June to September) and for the short rains in April. It can be cool in Addis in the morning and evening, so bring a sweater or light jacket.

**You will need medical/evacuation insurance in the case of a medical emergency. It is inexpensive and can be purchased online.

Don’t Forget to Bring:

Water bottle – A Nalgene water bottle is good. Addis Ababa is very high at about 8,000 feet and Langano is around 5,000 feet. You will feel it. Filtered water is available at the SIM Guest House and at Langano. It can also be purchased in restaurants and shops around the city. Stay hydrated.

Sunscreen – Remember the high altitude and protect yourself from the sun (especially if you are using doxy as your malaria prophylaxis).

Hand sanitizer – Have a small bottle to keep in your pocket  and a larger bottle for refills.

Malaria prophylaxis and Bug spray –  Malaria is present at Langano. Addis does not have malaria due to the elevation, but they still have mosquitoes and other bugs that bite, such as fleas. Most people use doxycycline, malarone, or mefloquine for their malaria prophylaxis. There are benefits and side effects to each, so consult with your healthcare provider about the best choice for you. In the evenings at Langano, apply bug spray and wear long sleeves and pants.

Snacks – (if you have a favorite that it is hard to do without)

Personal medicines

Flashlight – there is limited electricity at Langano… a headlamp is good

Camera/Video Camera

One piece bathing suit

Camp shoes – tennis shoes, sandals/flip flops/crocs

Pocket tissues

Travel alarm clock – battery powered

Over the counter medicines – cold, allergy, Imodium, Pepto-Bismol, etc.

Sleep aid – (for jet lag: Tylenol PM, Melatonin, Ambien)

Ear plugs

Passport/Visa and copies of each in a separate location/bag

Spending money


Paper plates and plastic bowls – (1 pack each per person)

Binoculars – (if you want to bird watch)

White lab coat, stethoscope, and at least one box of gloves – if you are in the clinic

Work clothes

Breakfast food items – (granola bars, cereal, etc)


Check the CDC website ( for their current recommendations for Ethiopia. You will need yellow fever. We do have rabies here, but don’t require the vaccines for short-term teams. You will need to be cautious when around animals (don’t pet them!). If you are coming for longer than 3 months, you must get all the recommended vaccines, including rabies.


For Teams – You have two options for getting your visa:

1. Purchase your visa when you arrive in Ethiopia. It will be valid for a maximum of one month and is good for only one entry into the country. You must also be a US citizen.

2. Purchase a visa before you leave the States. This can be done through a visa service, like Travisa. These are two-year, multiple entry visas. This is the best option since it can sometimes take several hours to purchase a Visa when you arrive in Ethiopia.

More information is available at the following sources:

Travisa Website:

U.S. State Department Website:

The Ethiopian Embassy (for the most current visa information):

When You Arrive:

Addis Ababa has a modern airport and coming into the country should not give you any surprises.

On your flight to Ethiopia one of the cabin crew will give you an entry card. You will need to fill in this card and present it with your passport and visa at immigration. You will need an Ethiopian address and phone number for the entry card -use the following:

Lideta Kifle Ketema, Kebele 13, House #598, Phone # 046-119-0363

After landing you will go through immigration. If you purchased a visa before arriving, go straight to one of the immigration lines. If you need to purchase a visa there will be a window and someone to direct you through the process. Once you have a visa, go through immigration. Show your passport with its visa and your entry card.

Next, collect your luggage and go through customs. Put all your checked baggage through the X-ray machine. It is best to go through customs one or two at a time and not as a large group. Do not volunteer information like, “we are part of a medical team bringing medicines and equipment.”  Answer questions politely and honestly, but don’t go beyond what is asked.

You shouldn’t be bringing anything that will be a problem, but if you are asked to open a bag, cooperate. If the customs officer tells you that customs must be paid, get your team leader. If the officer insists on charging customs then ask him to hold the supplies and complete the required forms for clearing the supplies later.

If luggage is missing it will need to be reported. There is a desk at the far end of the luggage hall.  Sometimes compensation will be paid and it never hurts to ask. Once you have your paperwork you can proceed to customs to clear any luggage that did arrive.

…Welcome to Ethiopia!

If somehow there is no one at the airport to meet you, find a pay phone or a friendly person with a cell phone and call Shane.

Helpful phone numbers:

Shane Smith Cell:  091-031-7639

Langano Office: 046-119-0363

Housing and Food:

There is a guesthouse in Addis. It isn’t luxurious, but is comfortable and adequate. There is a kitchen and large dining area and also a sitting area. There is hot water (most of the time), electricity (most of the time) and a phone. Anything electrical needs to be 220v or you can use your adapter/converter (bring these yourself). Meals can be purchased at the guesthouse. There is a sign-up sheet in the dining room. We will coordinate this for you.

In Langano, there are camper cabins and the accommodations are basic. There is a bath house, but no hot water. Toilets are available and there are also outhouses. There is a dining hall and a full-time cook. Unless we tell your team otherwise, all meals will be provided. There will be a mix of western food and local Ethiopian cuisine.

Food Safety – we want you to enjoy your time in Ethiopia and nothing will spoil it faster than being sick. The most important rule is to never drink unfiltered water. Nothing from the tap should go into your mouth. This includes brushing your teeth!

Everything served in the guesthouse or at Camp Langano will be safe to eat. However, when you are eating out the rules are it must be cooked or peeled first. Never eat fresh salads or uncooked vegetables. Do not eat raw or under cooked meat.

Team Finances:

Every team is different, so it is impossible to give an exact projection for a team budget.  However, some expenses are fixed and others can be estimated. The main cost of the trip will be worked out with the team leader well in advance. Some things that will make team finances work more easily include:

Appoint a team treasurer. The treasurer should be responsible for exchanging money, paying bills and keeping track of receipts. Keeping good records is key, so choose a detail-oriented person.

Keep team and personal monies separate.

Always ask for a receipt.

Money and Finances

There is a treasury, open weekdays during office hours, where money can be exchanged. Bring cash. It does not accept credit or debit cards or travelers cheques (neither do most places in Ethiopia). Generally, teams will cover lodging, meals, transportation, and most other expenses up front as a group, so you will only need money for souvenirs and other small items you might want to buy. Please have your team treasurer exchange everyone’s money instead of each member going separately.

Do’s and Don’ts:

If going outside of the station, always go in pairs or a group.

Let someone else on the team know if you are going out and who is with you.

Be aware that there are thieves in the area (this pertains more to Addis). Keep money in front pockets, keep bags close to you, and especially watch your cameras or other valuables.

Do not take pictures of government buildings, police, soldiers, etc.

Be discreet when taking photos. It’s best to take photos after establishing some relationship with the person. We’ll let you know when it is appropriate.

Don’t carry important papers around with you. Passports, tickets extra money, and other important papers should be given to the team leader. We will coordinate with the team leader for safekeeping.

There is a phone in the guesthouse that you are free to use for local and international phone calls. There is a charge for both so please keep track of all your calls. The group will make a plan as to how you should pay for these, whether individually or all together as a group. The international code to dial the U.S.A. is 001-area code-number.

 As a group, set up a distribution list prior to the trip and designate one person to send out reports from the team and receive news from home. There will not be an opportunity to check personal email except in the case of an emergency. Our internet is frequently down for 2-3 days, so be prepared. We also believe it is part of your whole mission experience to disconnect as much as possible with “home” while you are here. Get the most out of your time in Ethiopia!

We will arrange a time for shopping. Ethiopia is well known for the Orthodox crosses, beautiful textiles, and some of the world’s best coffee. You’ll certainly want to take a few things home with you, especially for supporters.

You will encounter beggars on the streets and will need to have a plan as to how you will respond. Never take out a large amount of money in public. Keep some small bills or coins handy if you want to give to a beggar or to pay for something small.

Books to Read Before You Come…


When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert


Serving With Eyes Wide Open by David A. Livermore

In the Wake of Martyrs by Brant

Hospital by the River by Catherine Hamlin ** many of the teams coming will have the opportunity to visit the Fistula Hospital – this book is a great intro to the work they do and it will greatly enhance your visit to preread it