Thoughts from author: emilie at innocent

anthony the catapulp champion

For the past 2 weeks we've been hosting a Catapulp game on our website. Competition has been fierce but there can only be one winner: Anthony, who scored a total of 6202 oranges.

110706-catapulp champion

We didn't think it was humanly possible to reach such a high score so we invited Anthony to come in to our office to prove his skills in person on our big screen. It was a grand moment. Passers-by in the kitchen were mesmerised by his skills and lots of pieces of toast got burnt.

Picture 006

Check out his skills here:

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.


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.


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.

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

first day at work in Ethiopia

emilie in ethiopia

I spent this morning meeting the 13 members of the SOS-Sahel team in Addis (one of IDE's partners, it's all a bit incestuous in the charity world) finding out more about the history of my honey project. I couldn't resist sharing the mangoes & passion fruits smoothie I had brought along. They now want us to launch innocent in Ethiopia but that's another story.


SOS Sahel have 10 projects around the country, which help smallholder farmers bring all kinds products to market. Here they are proudly showing off incense and aloe vera soap. Not sure why Tabede looks pregnant when he is of a rare fine build - must be the sun reverberating. It's pretty bright here.


Tabede and I then flew up north to Bahir Dar where I will be spending the next week or so visiting the bee cooperatives. It's a shame blogs can't (yet) communicate sounds and smells because this place is completely magical and exactly what I remembered of my time in Cameroon 10 years ago (with more internet cafes and mobile phones but the same fires in courtyards, herds of goats crossing the streets and cheerful children playing everywhere)

To try and give you an idea, here is the view from my hotel room:


And here are all my belongings neatly tucked into my wardrobe: colourful clothes, a collection of honey pots, the book about innocent and Emma H's rucksack. What more does one need?