ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – On a bumpy stretch of road somewhere on the east side of town, between the crowded Meganaña bus station and the muddy alleys of poverty-stricken Kotebe, a steep embankment dotted with trees marks one of the city’s most popular livestock markets. On this hillside, shepherds tend small flocks of goats and sheep and negotiate deals with prospective buyers. We drive past this market every day on the way to school, my face always pressed against the car window. Read more
Getting Jacked up in Ethiopia: Coffee’s Ground Zero
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – Welcome to the center of the caffeinated universe. In Ethiopia, coffee is much more than a cup of “joe;” it’s a key element in social life, a cultural cornerstone and a daily ritual. According to legend, this is the land where coffee was born. Ethiopians love their caffeine, and what strikes me as amazing is that most of the time, the coffee here is made from scratch. I’m talking about the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, where raw green coffee beans are transformed into a deep aromatic brew before your eyes. This isn’t an occasional practice; it happens multiple times per day. In Ethiopia, inviting someone to share a cup (or three) of coffee is the equivalent to extending a hand in friendship. If you’re a visitor like me, be prepared to accept many caffeine-laced invitations. Chances are, you’ll be jacked up for days. Read more
GOAL: 36 children sponsored by my 36th birthday – May 4th, 2012
Fresh and Green Academy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
I spent this past week volunteering in Ethiopia at Fresh and Green Academy, a school for impoverished children in Addis Ababa. This was my second trip to the school and it’s incredible to see how much the kids have grown and learned in the past year.
The school and the children are supported solely by donations to Friends of Fresh and Green Academy, a charitable organization run by U.S.-based flight attendants who raise funds and bring supplies directly to Ethiopia several times a year.
The school and its 125 students (from kindergarten through fourth grade) are in serious financial need.
The premise of Fresh and Green Academy is that the school provides three meals per day to students as well as an education. These children do not have the means to eat at home; some children don’t even have homes. As someone who talks a good game about food, I can’t begin to describe how much it means to give back and put food on the table for a child who would otherwise be starving on the street. Read more
I’m no stranger to ordering platters of raw meat in random places (i.e. at the home where Dracula/Vlad Tepes was born, in Romania) so I made it my culinary mission to try a popular local dish called kitfo while in Ethiopia.
Kitfo is raw ground beef marinated in red chili powder and clarified butter, served with injera and a variety of flatbreads. Essentially it’s the spicy, Ethiopian version of steak tartare. I first heard about kitfo from Fresh and Green Academy’s director Muday Mitiko’s food-loving husband, Anteneh. According to him, if there is one dish to try in Addis Ababa, this is it. I know what you may be thinking: “REALLY?! Raw meat? in Ethiopia?!” Yes, really. Anteneh’s enthusiasm is bigger than life and completely contagious. How could I resist? Plus, I’m crazy about raw meat dishes: carpaccio, tartare, all of it..bring it on! Read more
My first thought upon arrival in Addis Ababa is that it’s colder than I expected. I only packed one sweater, and somehow I missed the whole “third highest world capital” info while tossing thin cotton t-shirts into my carry-on. I came to Ethiopia to volunteer at Fresh and Green Academy only a few days after three weeks in West Africa. I admit, I was rushed between the trips and did zero research. I just thought, “Ethiopia…It’s near the equator, it’s Africa, it’s hot” Nope. The city lies at roughly 8,000 feet above sea level. Some advice for travelers to Addis: pack more than one sweater. Read more