It’s a long trip from East Arkansas to East Africa. Rita drops me off at Memphis International Airport. Inside the terminal, a television producer notices my khaki clothes, good for hiding dirt when unable to wash clothes for extended periods, and my stack of airline tickets leading to the Horn of Africa. She explains that she’s making a program featuring interesting usage of environmental resources by non-profit agencies. My assignment sounds like a good fit for her program, so we agree to discuss my work training beekeepers in Ethiopia after I return to the states. The four segments of the lengthy flight offer opportunities to meet other travelers. One lady, working for a Chinese automobile equipment maker is traveling from the United States to Budapest, Hungary to study manufacturing to return the work to the US. From Detroit to Amsterdam we discuss Chinese and Indian investment in Ethiopia’s infrastructure and American investment in Ethiopia’s agriculture and food security.
I meet a physician working with the Centers for Disease Control in Ethiopia. With hours of time to share on the long flight from Amsterdam to Khartoum and then to Addis Ababa, we discuss health matters for the Ethiopian people. Sanitation is a major concern for the physician; the life expectancy of Ethiopians is estimated at 48 to 51 years. Periodic droughts have brought famines in recent years. I explain that my work in training beekeeper farmers is designed to increase food security. By improving the quality of honey the farmers produce, they can increase their income, sometimes doubling their family’s earnings. I explain how much of the honey produced in developing countries is used to produce mead, or honey wine; and I tell of our earlier project producing Ethiopia’s mead, tej. The physician tells me that he knows the microbiologist well who worked with me on the tej project, having been in his classes in medical school. Today’s photo: Me and my Oromifa interpreter, Tucho, at Shambu, Ethiopia.