Friday, July 20, 2012

it is just another day for you and me in paradise

Over the last months I have been reporting from my field work for the Nile 3 project. It is time to close this reporting series and to look back on one of the most interesting time I had in Ethiopia.
The field work brought be to some remote place of the Ethiopian Blue Nile, places where no tourist ever ends up, places where Ethiopia unfolds its deepest beauty, magics and love. I am still wondering that one can get paid to do such an interesting work, i would be ready to pay for the such an experience. On the road I met amazing people, farmers, scientists, drivers, assistants, translators, friends. Almost everyone gave her/his best to contribute to the success of field work.
The Nile viewed from the sky
It was a time full of unforgettable and magic moments.

I have met this group of farmers in Shambu who a long time ago gave up waiting for any government or NGO to help them, and decided to take their own fate in hand, making use of the presence of my team to learn more about how to best implement their ideas.
Focus group discussion with the farmers in Shambu

Seeing a farmer answering his mobile phone... realizing that modernity has found its way into very traditional livelihoods. 
The Shambu farmer with his mobile phone

I have seen these women who cannot read and write for the first time in their life try to draw a house and having so much fun doing it, even if the drawing look very childish.

I was sitting in these restaurants after long days of work (and very little showers as there was no running water) trying to guess if today I would get Tibs with Kitfo or rather Kitfo with Tibs :-). I must have eaten at least one sheep and one goat over that field month.

Going through the household questionnaire and discover that I would myself have answered more than 10 times to the question "how many times were you not able to eat the food of your choice because of shortage?" (due to the lack of cheese in Ethiopia) but would have answered 0 times to the question "how many days didn't you eat because of food shortage?"

Seeing hundreds of  farmers walking for many hours with their harvest, baskets, animal walk to the nearest market to exchange some goods (while i was driving the same distance in minutes). It reminded me that probably livelihoods some 200 hundred years ago in Switzerland, when my grand grand mother was young, were probably not so different. And suddenly get a deep respect for those generations in my country who contributed to make my life easier...

I have met these young scientists fighting for their future, being extremely involved and doing a very competent and dedicated job. I never had to fight in this way to get access to education...

I met this exceptionally smart and open group of young Ethiopian men, who love their country as much as they can criticize it. With discussion throughout the night, they made me understand what it means to be a young African man teared between modernity and tradition, between wanting to see the world, to be young urban and aware and at the same time wanting to get served by very traditional wife.

I discovered the content of all Teddy Afro songs, and developed an even deeper respect for this singer that manages to spread messages that go far beyond " i love you" and touches issues like democracy and Ethiopian identity in a changing Ethiopia.
long car rides with the whole team and always with Teddy Afro
Dancing and singing on Teddy Afro songs in the long car rides with very funny drivers... 
slaughtering an oxen
I though I would visit a mushroom farm but ended up with 10 Ethiopian men slaughtering an oxen and getting fed the raw tongue for breakfast... (was maybe not the smartest idea)
the raw meat for breakfast
But what probably has moved me most, is to realize that i am extremely privileged. I have no food shortage, I do not need to walk for hours to get a piece of soap nor I do need to fight for basics... It is just another day for me in paradise. And as you are reading this blog post, realize that you have electricity and internet access and it is just another day for you in paradise. But what makes me so incredibly priviledged is that I got the opportunity to discover this beautiful side of Ethiopia, to meet all these people and understand a little bit better what drives people in this country. And I hope that you could get a glimpse of this through my blog over the last months (just make use of the N3 field report series tag to find all the related posts).

" I had forgotten where i am coming from , but suddenly it came back into my mind and it is turning around in my head. Yes I am African, oh Africa mama..."

A big thanks to all who contributed to make my field trip an unforgettable time.

Here the link official blog post on the NBDC blog about this field work

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