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.