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BTC Ethiopia: Day 9 – Be The Change

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10th July

We had our last Ethiopian breakfast gathering (for now of course), got a positive update on Ibrahim, discussed our individual travel plans, extended many thanks and hugs, then Kat and Zerihun headed for the airport while the others would follow a few hours later. Since there was a 9+ hour layover for most and Kat had to stay the night back in Addis Ababa due to her flight out being a day later, we agreed to reconvene in Addis at the Sheraton. By all metrics, the Sheraton Addis is a very nice hotel. Well-guarded, beautifully-built, vast, a bit expensive, and incredibly relaxing; it’s one of the few preferred hotels of frequent international travelers and diplomats in Addis Ababa.

Kat checked in and awaited the team’s arrival; we all met at the restaurant by the pool, marveling at how with just an … Read More »


BTC Ethiopia: Day 8 – Local team went to Red Cross to give blood to donate to Ibrahim the rest of us fed the elderly homeless

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10th July

While we waited on news of the blood transfusion, some of us went to the market to get supplies, while others stayed back and talked to the woman who makes scarves and work out logistics of buying from her to sell in the US – buying & selling with a purpose.

We spent the morning engaging with and feeding the elderly homeless. Some of us even sang for them.

The President of the Ministry of Women and Health gave us a certificate for our work, and after giving the small donation for start-up inventory, we walked back to the compound.

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We found out the local GHNI team had given blood, because there was none available that matched Ibrahim. It worked, and a few hours later, we were at the hospital, watching him get his blood transfusion and seeing the joy on he and … Read More »


BTC Ethiopia: Day 7 – Elderly homeless center training visit, change in plans, and how brotherhood saved a man’s life

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10th July

When on the phone discussing our trip plans months ago, the GHNI team shared that there was a local elderly homeless center in Dire Dawa, near our compound that we would visit, see what work is being done to address this often neglected part of a community, and help serve and feed them at one of the meal times. We discussed how our model is ‘trade not aid’, ‘hand up, not a hand out’, and how important it was for centers like this to not just be feeding kitchens, but skill training centers so that they could sustain themselves, not rely on external aide, and work to elevate living standards of it’s visitors by providing a source of work and income.

There are only a few businesses you can start in an area and situation like this with the standards that … Read More »


BTC Ethiopia: Day 5 – Coffee Region and Harrar

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10th July

Ababa, the national coffee quality officer was joining us, as he had the paperwork to get us in the fields, would act as a guide and teacher, and had essentially helped plan the day’s events.

We left early, as we had a 1.5-hour drive up the mountainside, and then another hour up the mountain highlands. The drive was beautiful with big mountain and valley views and an obviously cooling temperature as we increased altitude.

As we climbed altitude, we saw farms, but we learned that in the last few years, what were once coffee fields had been turned to Khat (chat), hundreds of hectares of nothing but the plant (and amphetamine drug) that has taken eastern Africa by storm. It’s a cash crop, doesn’t require much water, grows like a weed in these parts, and when chewed creates a high that is … Read More »


BTC Ethiopia: Day 6 – Megaladi Village

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10th July

We enjoyed our typical morning coffee and fried eggs at the compound, discussed challenges present in this village: water is #1. If that is addressed, other challenges like health, consistent farming amongst the drought and naturally arid land would improve. A school had been built with volunteers alongside the villagers with cement block, then the villagers built two of their own with mud and sticks. That’s exactly what you want. Create the spark, cheer them on, and watch it grow from their own desire and effort. An inter-village soccer match was also set-up between that village and Garmaan (the village we visited before), and we were told that this helps fuel not only a little healthy competition, but it helps address GHNI’s mission of improving health, plants the seed for sports which can keep villagers active instead of falling prey … Read More »


BTC Ethiopia – In Our Hearts, On Our Minds

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4th July

Images of Ethiopia

 

July 4th, 2012

 

 

It’s midday here, hot and surprisingly quiet except for the occasional goat bleating, or the distant sound of a plane or vehicle.  Tucked in African Village, it is easy to forget that we are staying in a town of over 300,000 residents.  There is some construction going on just outside our window, but it too is relatively quiet.  Just like most tasks in this part of the world, the building is done by hand; so only a hammer once in a while, or the sounds of hand mixed cement being smoothed.  The man in charge has a small boy helping him.  The sheets and towels for the guest rooms are hanging on a line outside my other window.  No machines involved.  Everyone works hard here.

 

We are starting to absorb the images of rural Ethiopia, for they … Read More »


BTC Ethiopia – Happy 4th of July from Dire Dawa, Ethiopia

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4th July

Happy 4TH of July from Dire Dawa, Ethiopia

On this day each year Joni and I have the pleasure to host most of our family and our closest friends for a celebration about our beloved USA.
It is always over several days which includes BBQ’s and great meals we prepare for as many as will show up, as we love to entertain in our home in St. Michaels, Maryland. It includes boating as well as a grand fireworks in our harbor. There is no shortage of food, beverages and water to enjoy.

This year is much different. This year we are in Ethiopia with a wonderful organization called Global Hope Network International. We are here with some of our best business friends that are now with this experience true friends. In the past few days we have spent time in villages to understand … Read More »


BTC Ethiopia: Day 4 The Village of Garmaam

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4th July

We eagerly arose, had early morning coffee, and headed out for our 90 minute rocky-road drive to Garmaam. After passing hundreds of donkeys transporting firewood to Dire Dawa, and countless people making the daily 4 hour walk into the city to sell it, we arrived in Garmaam.

We first were introduced to the committee leaders of the village. These individuals are trained by Global Hope Network International – they drive the activity in the village and help instill a level of ownership that allows their progress to be self sustainable. The committee leaders invited us into their ‘office house’ – a small cement building with chairs. They walked us through who does what in the village and the positive impact that GHNI has already made, in particular, the school house that GHNI helped the village build that allowed them to get … Read More »


BTC Ethiopia: Traveling to Dire Dawa Day 3

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4th July

 

We rose early to fly westward from Addis Ababa to a smaller city, Dire Dawa in the Somali region of Ethiopia.

The Somali region is barren, filled with villages located sparsely across the desert-like terrain. As you get closer to the Somali border, the potential for danger increases, so there is a growing focus on keeping those villages productive and self sustaining, in addition to obvious reasons that is also important so they are not tempted to fall into an environment of crime or worse, being influenced by Somali extremists.

We arrived in Dire Dawa, checked into our African Village compound, which is like Shangri-La compared to most compounds located anywhere near disparate villages. About an hour and a half away from the villages we will visit, it is in the heart of Dire Dawa, run by wonderful people and is incredibly … Read More »


BTC Ethiopia: Day 1&2 – Addis Ababa

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3rd July

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We (minus Jim who would end up being delayed 2 days between London and Paris) arrived in Addis Ababa ready to tour, learn and help. After a quick night’s sleep in the local hotel, we woke up to have Ethiopian coffee and breakfast, connect our group, and head out for our first adventure.

Coffee and Community

Our first trip was to the top coffee exporter in the country, who happens to export the actual coffees that Jeff uses for Pangeo Coffee (Pangeocoffee.com). We toured the facility, met the staff, and heard about the growth and challenges Muhabeb (the 3rd generation owner) is experiencing. We cupped (formal coffee tasting) amazing coffees, talked about how fun it would be to have a Cinnabon bakery run by Muhabeb also serving his coffees and using that business to benefit the villages and community.

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Hope … Read More »



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