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Thoughts from category: emilie in ethiopia

India bound...

Every year, innocent gives one or two lucky employees the opportunity to go and work with one of the charities we support through our foundation, using some of our work skills. Those of you who've been reading this blog for a while may remember tales from Andrew in Malawi, JT in Kenya, or our Emilie in Ethopia.

Em in Ethiopia
Emilie in Ethiopia showing the bees who was boss

On Friday, I'll be following in their illustrious footsteps, lugging my camera and a notebook with me, as I head to India to work with disability charity ADD gathering materials for their fundraising and training needs. I'll be penning a few posts while I'm away but it sees only right that I do some introductions first...

ADD supports disabled people in 11 different countries across Africa and Asia to challenge disability discrimination. Their vision is to create a world where disabled people can enjoy their rights and participate in society as fully as they choose to, and we've been supporting the work that they do in India since April 2009.

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Three quarters of the disabled population in India live in rural communities, and less than 2% receive any form of vocational training. ADD India works to educate people in the skills they need to earn a livelihood, and offers financial support through microloans- these are frequently used to boost incomes in India, but disabled people are generally excluded from these schemes.

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The project that we're funding has so far delivered loans to over 200 people, enabling them to gain independence through their livelihood, and to participate more fully in the communities in which they live. Over the next few weeks, I'll be meeting a few of the people who have benefited from these loans, and be able to see first hand the impact that it has had not only on their lives, but on the lives of their families, who are often marginalised as well.

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So there you are. Introductions done. I'd definitely recommend that you get to know them a bit better here, but if not, I'll be in touch shortly with some more info from the other side of the world.

back to the motherland

emilie in ethiopia

On Saturday, I said a sad good-bye to my Ethiopian friends, raw-met breakfasts and dancing lessons. (however despite lots of training, I can't say I've mastered their moves yet)

Dancing lessons

Before I left, I presented my marketing strategy to the charity. The best bit was at the end when Mola spontanously said that it was a really useful document to have which he could see his team implementing. So for any future travellers to Ethiopia, keep your eyes peeled for new AMAR packaging, sold in new exciting places and potentially in new formats... 

Team photo cropped


For me though, it's back to the world of smoothies, with a bit of Ethiopian honey in the back of my mind and heart for ever.

making a beeline to the apples

emilie in ethiopia

I've been spending the past 2 days in Addis mainly wrting up my recommendation on honey marketing, eating injera and tearing my hair out because of internet bugs / power cuts - not very good or new blogging material or photos.

Office

However today we drove 45 minutes outside Addis to visit a project the innocent foundation funded from 2007 to 2009, appropriately called the Apple Project.

To cut a long story short, we supported the introduction of apple trees in Ethiopia to help smallholder farmers diversify their income by growing and selling apples: a rare, and therefore high value crop here.

Here is Gonfar, the farmer we visited, proudly standing by his apple trees (it was quite surreal seeing an apple orchard just behind banana plants.) He's got about 85 of them now.

Gonfar

3 years ago, this was where he and his 9 chldren lived, a cute but quite rustic little mud hat.

Olod house

Thanks to the money he's made from selling his apples, and I'm not joking here, he's built himself a brand new colourful house just next to the old one.

Gonfar new house

By this point, I was completely in awe of this entrepreneur but things didn't stop there.

He's also constructed a new latrine, which happens to be one of the cleanest ones I've seen here.

Latrine outside

When I went in, I realised the old exercise books (bottom right) weren't meant for passing time on the loo: he'd even thought of toilet paper.

Toilets inside

He's also set up an ingenious mechanism to irrigate the land whilst washing your hands so no water gets wasted.

Washing hands

This man had by now become my hero, and then I realised he was officially a hero, as you can see from the medal in the bottom picture frame.

Proud Gonfar

The dashing young man with the sexy sunglasses eyeing up Barbie is his eldest son who works at the Sheraton Hotel in Addis. Not really my kind of place but I might go in and say hello if I walk past on my daily evening wanders through the city.

Not only was I in awe of this man (and made everyone laugh by constantly repeating 'this is A-MA-ZING' during the visit) but on a more serious note, I felt really proud of being a member of the innocent oundation. There are 225 other Gonfars in the region who have all directly benefited from our grant and are selling more and more apples each year. I felt nearly as proud as Gonfar in the photo. Just missing the medal.

Now, back to the honey.

a weekend in Ethiopia

emilie in ethiopia

It's been a while since my last posts but internet access has been limited to say the least. I spent a few days with my 2 friends from IDE in the Dongar region. The trip included visiting 3 more cooperatives, interviewing lots new beekeepers

Coop meeting

chatting to more supermarket staff about honey

Nice supermarket lady

and trying ever-more stylish bee suits.

Bee suit

The time has now come for me to enjoy my first weekend in Ethiopia so let me try and convey a bit of what people like doing when they're not at work: namely eat and drink.

When it comes to food, things are pretty different in Ethiopia. Below is our 'breakfast treat' at 7am this morning. If we are used to the 'cooked' variety in the UK, here the breakfast are served 'raw'. Yes, that's it - meat straight off the cow. How I missed my bacon and eggs / muesli and yogurt - and the weekend supplements whilst I'm at it.

Breakfast2
Meals are always served on injera - which looks like a soft pancake (but unfortunately doesn't taste anything like a pancake). You eat it with whatever meats, sauces or vegetables are on offer - a bit like a massive soft pizza with 'all you can eat' toppoings. Who said we needed knives and forks?
Lunch start2

You can never be told off for 'not finishing your plate' as it's one dish for all, however in this occasion it was clear who hadn't eaten up...
Lunch end

As for drinks, I've tried the delicious honey-wine (tej) as well as local beer but what was my surprise to get served a green smoothie when I asked for a mixed juice. Unfortuantely, it didn't taste anything like our kiwis, apples & limes but rather an avocado soup. So the next day, I went back to good old OJ - you can't beat the classics.


Green smoothie

honey market board


emilie in ethiopia

Emilie's having a bit of internet trouble so here's her latest update from Ethiopia:

It's been an epic 2 days since I last wrote.

Yesterday I met the local team yesterday and had a good old taste test to break the ice

Team

We then spent the rest of the day visiting supermarkets, chatting to honey buyers and sellers to find about a bit more about honey consumption and people's favourite brands.

Habtamou in supermarket

We finished up at the Beekeeper's Union (note the 'honey styled' architecture')

Union

Today, we visited a co-operative of beekeepers in Dangla (which is about 2 hours South) where I met and interviewed some of the co-op executive committee.

They were really passionate and very enthusiastic in the way they spoke about their hives, honey prices and IDE's training workshops. But when it came to taking pictures, this was my best attempt to get them to smile.

Beekeepers

October is an exciting time for the co-op as it's the beginning of the harvest season when the members can all start processing and selling the beekeepers' honey again.

They've been out of stock since July which means the co-operative shopkeepers sole role for the last months has been turning customers down. I think I'd have gone crazy in that time but here she is with the first honey of the season

First honey

My favourite bit of the day was meeting the co-op's 'star' beekeeper, Walker. I got to put on a bee suit and see his hives. One bee managed to get in and attempted to kiss me on the cheek, but apart from a few shrieks (much to the entertainment of the co-operative), neither the bee or me were harmed.

We finished the day in the honey section of the wholesale market - a succession of slightly tired tents selling honey and butter.

Market
The outside appearance should have given me a hint as to what I would find inside but it was really honey in it's very crudest form i.e. big plastic drums filled with honey and dead bees floating inside.

Now I can really see where IDE's co-operatives are making a difference and adding value to the keepers' honey, enabling them to sell it at a higher price.

After all, I think people would be prepared to pay more to avoid having to fish out dead bees before spreading honey on their toast.