Winrock International, www.winrock.org, sends volunteers to developing countries around the world on USAID-funded food security projects. Africa is a fond memory now. I reflect on my assignment teaching beekeeping trainers in Ethiopia’s Oromia region. I travelled with Guta Abdi, the founder and managing director of Education For Development Association. Guta’s name means “full of hope” in Oromifa language. With Guta, I observed the beautiful, volcano-strewn land, resourceful farmers, and Oromia’s rich customs. My training sessions in the mountain-top village of Shambu began and ended with prayers by traditional belief elders. These people, numbering five million believers, deeply respect the land and attribute all existence to a single deity without praying to any prophet. They gather annually around six volcanic lakes for thanksgiving. Guta Abdi is shown at the thanksgiving in the center of today’s photo wearing a gray sweater and open collar. When he took me to the site, I knew I was in one of the earth’s special places.
Travelling through Oromia, I saw children proudly wearing banana leaf hats. The children of each village fold their banana leaf hats in a distinct regional design. Along mountain ridges, I saw “fachas,” tall poles with tin roofs covering a cape buffalo’s tail. The facha is a sign proclaiming that a man accomplished a feat such as killing a lion or leopard with a spear. In earlier times, a facha was placed to proclaim the killing of one’s tribesman has been revenged by killing nine of the opposing tribesmen. Fortunately, this is a past practice. I especially enjoyed sharing Ethiopian food with my host. A typical day started with eggs and red peppers, enjira, Ethiopia’s flat bread made from fermented teff grass seed, bread, and tea. Coffee and bread was served at morning and afternoon breaks. Lunch included enjira, potatoes, and a “wot,” or stew, of sheep. Supper included enjira, cabbage wot, roasted sheep with carrots, “tej” honey mead, Ethiopian beer, and “areke,” locally-made vodka. Thank you, Winrock and EFDA.