Hello From Ethiopia!

March 10, 2013


Sunset in Ethiopia

I am currently in – you’ve guessed it – Ethiopia. As we descended into Addis Ababa this morning on an overnight flight, the ground looked like an undulating patchwork quilt of browns and greens, snaked through with curly rivers and the odd road. It looked pretty much how I’d imagined it.

What do you think of when you think of Ethiopia? For most it has an image that’s stuck in the 80’s – small children crying, malnourished, with distended bellies and big pleading eyes. There is still poverty here of course, but now Ethiopia has the fifth fastest growing economy in the world, the second in Africa. The country has changed at a staggering rate in the past 20-30 years and that’s why I’m here, to learn about what’s changed, and also what still needs to be done.

The charity who have organised the trip are called World Vision, and the campaign I’m here to write about is called Enough Food For Everyone IF. It’s a collaboration between many charities and organisations, who are working together with the aim of ending the global hunger crisis. As they put it, ‘the world produces enough food for everyone, but not everyone has enough food’.

As I said, this is a collaborative effort, and in order for the campaign to be a success it needs action on the part of millions of people around the world. If we can all do one small thing to change the way we buy our food or consume it, then the collective effect could be immense. I’ll be coming back to this in later posts.

So what will I be doing out here? Well I’ll be travelling to visit World Vision projects, such as a group of HIV positive women who are making injera, something I am very excited about. If you’re not familiar, injera is a staple flatbread, like a giant bubbly crumpet, made from a fermented teff or wheat flour mixture. All food is served on top of it and indeed eaten with it as pieces are torn off and used to scoop up food with the hands. It’s eaten at least twice a day here. As much as I’m excited about the injera however, I’m also keen to learn about some of the other foods Ethiopians eat; I visit Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurants regularly in the UK, but beyond the staples, I’m clueless. I expect many of you are too.

I’ll also be visiting World Vision health and agricultural projects, learning about how the country has developed since the famines in the 80s. There’s going to be a huge amount to think about. I’m excited and also kind of nervous. How will I feel seeing everything I’m about to see? Slightly guilty perhaps? Inspired? Sad? Elated? Shocked? I think it’s going to be a huge emotional merry go round.

Tomorrow is the first day of our adventure, and I’m the keenest of beans to get started. I just hope my words can do it justice.


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  • Reply Gill Watson March 10, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    For the past year I’ve been working with the Grassroots charity in Lancashire to supply breakfast club foods for children who are arriving at school with nothing more than a biscuit or even left over cold chips (as detailed in Vanessa’s radio show last week) in their lunch boxes. Just before Christmas- a time of plenty for most families – I met a woman who was literally starving to feed her four kids. Seeing her lose a stone in two weeks really got to me and the more I looked into the lives of families around me the more distressed I became. You’re going to see awful things Helen and feel helpless at the enormity of it all but you just have to step back and remember that every little bit that everyone does can help to make a difference. Keep writing from the heart and bollocking the right people at the right time. It’s what you excel in.

    • Reply Helen March 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks Gill, I shall try.

  • Reply Natalie Drest March 11, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Don’t forget that they produce some of the world’s best coffees Helen!

    • Reply Helen March 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      And they are seriously strong!

  • Reply Paul March 11, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Ethiopia is a truly wonderful country with deep, varied and unique culture and some incredible landscapes. The coffee kicks butt and they have some brilliant ceremonies based around it. Tej is worth trying as well though was a bit sweet for my tastes. I found the injera there much better than in the UK and loved all the toppings! I hope you will experience some of the postives alongside it’s many problems, it really is a special place. Look forward to reading your updates!


    • Reply Helen March 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      I’ve seen the coffee ceremony several times now – amazing! I find the injera much better too. There are many positives here. I’ll be writing about them.

  • Reply Lizzie March 11, 2013 at 11:05 am

    If anyone can tell it sympathetically, you can. Looking forward to hearing about your trip x

    • Reply Helen March 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      Thanks mate x

  • Reply msmarmitelover March 11, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    A great opportunity, looking forward to your posts.

    • Reply Helen March 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm

      Thanks Kerstin, it’s amazing here.

  • Reply KSalty March 14, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Wow that’s amazing – hope you gain lots from the experience.

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