Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Another Month in Awesome Ethiopia

LEAP Project Box Delivery in the Land of Coffee

My colleague Haileyesus and I, along with driver Asarat had a long journey to deliver the Learning Boxes. Very rough roads and very long days of driving to get from one school to the next. Our trip went like this Hawassa -Wolaita Sodo - Jimma - Bonga - Mizan - Tepi - Masha - Bonga - Jimma - Wolkite - Hawassa. This trip saw the delivery of the final materials for the British Council - Learn English Audio Program. It has taken a long time to get all 25 boxes out mostly because of a lack of reliable vehicles at the Education Bureau. It would be foolish to go to some of these areas in a car that wasn't reliable. If you were to have a breakdown, it could take a very long time to get moving again.

Photo: Mizan school receiving their Learning Box

Photo: The school (above) in Wolkite was extremely impressive. When we conducted the 

LEAP training in Yirgalem, the English teacher (on my right), Debebe, told me that his school already had an English Language Improvement Centre. When we arrived at the school to deliver the box, I was amazed at the program they had put together without any outside resources. The Learning Box will be a great addition to an already well established high quality program. A lot of this can be attributed to the supportive principal Ato Abera (on my left). I departed this school with a strong desire to go back and learn more about their program to see how we can use their school as a model for other schools in the region. As luck would have it, one of the LifePlayers was not functional so we will have to deliver a replacement in the near future. They live in the Gurage zone and the Gurage food is absolutely delicious. 

Photo: This delivery (Left) was yet another great story. The trained teacher had to meet us near Bonga to pick up the box because the village where his school is located is about 160 kms from where they are standing in the photo and is inaccessible by road. They have to take a 4x4 part of the way and then finish the trip on horseback. He came down with a student that will be part of the English Club when it is up and running. When I heard about the horseback entry I suggested we make the journey, but it was not possible. It would have made a great short film for sure. Maybe I can arrange a program inspection and make the journey - doubtful, but worth a try. I continue to be impressed by many of the teachers that I meet here in Ethiopia. Some of them teaching in almost impossible circumstances for minimal pay

Buna = Coffee

The cities of Bonga, Mizan, and Tepi are in the Kafa zone and it is believed that the first cup of coffee was produced here. Kafa - coffee you can see where the name probably originated at any rate.

Photo: Wild coffee forest in Kafa zone

Photo: Coffee bush.

Photo: Coffee ceremony served with popcorn and defo dabo.

The West Side of South Region

The western part of Ethiopia is incredibly green, lush and spectacularly beautiful.

Photo: Standard views out the car window in the West.

Some parts of this trip brought us to some fairly remote areas of the west. At one point, while we were in this heavily forested area, we thought that we might be a bit lost so we pulled up beside an      man that was using a long walking staff to make his way down the rough road. As I rolled down my window and made eye contact with the old guy, his eyes became very wide with panic and after about a second of staring at me, he ran away. My colleagues and I had a good laugh. I thought "either I am extremely ugly, or that guy has never seen a ferenji before." I felt a little bit sad that I scared the old fella, but it will be a scene from my life that I will remember for a very long time.

The Roads All Over Ethiopia

The roads are definitely dangerous all over Ethiopia. It is normal to see 3,4, or even 5 car/truck wrecks in a single day of travel. The laws of the road are really just suggestions over here.

I took these photos within an hour of each other. Part of the reason that you see so many wrecks is that it takes forever to have the car or truck removed. A wrecked vehicle could sit for months before anyone is able to go and pick it up. I think I mentioned this in another post, but one of the biggest dangers on the road is the donkey carts, especially at night. Almost everyone I know in Ethiopia does everything they can to avoid travelling at night and that is something I would recommend to anyone that comes to visit Ethiopia. The risk just isn't worth it.

Mar = Honey

On the way to Masha, we went through a small town that I forget the name of, but it is famous for its honey production. I picked up a 1.5 kilo tub of the stuff and it is delicious. The whole town is basically one street and almost every shop is a honey shop. They also sell some coffee as they are in the Kafa zone as well.

Photo: Traditional bee farming hive. 

Photo: Asarat and Haileyesus happy to be down in Honeytown.
Photo: Every store's shelves were stacked with honey jars and buna beans.

Photo: the delicious fresh, organic, itafta (sweet) honey that we bought.

Photos of the Trip

So along the way, we crossed over the Omo River. This river apparently has some pretty spectacular whitewater on it that I am hoping to explore while I am here.
Photo: The mighty Omo river.
Photo: Main street Bonga looking south.
We stayed in Bonga two nights, once on the way out and once on the way back. I had a great little room with a balcony and good street view - great for people watching.

Photo: Main street Bonga looking north.

Photo: The action on the street.

 I didn't get a good shot of the man in the photo on the left, but his feet were something to see; they were wide like car tires.


Photo: Bonga bus
Photo: Rural bus
Photo: Rural bus