I returned home from a week in Ethiopia yesterday after traveling the country taking pictures of young people who have been trained in bee-keeping and honey processing and silk worm farming. This trip pushed all the right buttons for me. First, it was an adventure! Out of Addis we drove on the road to the southern part of the country. Second, it was science – I saw first hand and learned all about raising bees and silk worms. Finally, we had a very successful launch with our new partner ICIPE and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
I’ve always been struck by two things in Addis – one is how genuinely friendly and warm its people are; the other is the very obvious poverty everywhere you look. Even around the Radisson Blu Hotel where we stay, people live in shanties topped with corrugated metal roofs. Beggars are on every corner and donkeys stray amongst the traffic. Get outside of Addis and the poverty seems to increase ten times. Never before have I seen a country that so obviously needs help.
So it is my hope, that after a very successful connection with the Prime Minister, and his insistent introductions to the ministers of youth and agriculture, that we might actually be able to step in, align our programs with the government’s national development agenda and make a real difference. While much of what we do as a Foundation can seem abstract, or at least intangible, I could see a series of projects with very practical outcomes resulting from this launch and our meeting with the PM.