Looking back on my Ethiopian Biology Trip

I remember picking up an edition of the Ecological Restoration publication from back in March 2010.  There was this article that caught my eye:  Yitbarek T.W., Satishkumar Belliethathan, and Masresha Fetene:  "A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Watershed Rehabilitation:  A Case Study in Farta Woreda, South Gondar, Ethiopia."

The article is based in the northern region of Ethiopia.  The study (as noted in the title) wanted to look for the benefits and costs of a watershed rehabilitation.  Surrounding the study was the idea of ripping out grasses and trees to make way for agriculture, leads to all sorts of ecological (economic) impacts.  Some of these are as follows:  Increased of siltation of downstream rivers, carbon sequestration, water/soil conservation, biodiversity, aesthetics, and ecotourism.  It's a great article showing interest in land that may often be overlooked.

I was fortunate enough to travel to Ethiopia while in school.  We traveled there to study the watershed of Ethiopia, and understand the importance of water.  We visited different NGOs in the capital Addis to learn how they dealt with sanitation and running clean water.  We then traveled outside Addis around the southern territories and stayed with different tribes.  When you travel outside of the capital, communication gets very tricky.  Even with people from Ethiopia, because of all of the different tribes/languages, communicating gets lost in translation.  There's also a lot of old standards tribes believe in whole heartedly.  A simple act as washing your hands to fight off germs is very foreign to them.  We visited a school that received a well for the first time, and they very much appreciated this.

On a personal note, I absolutely love kids.  When I was a kid, I remember how much fun recess was.  When I was younger, I moved away to a new school.  The first question that was asked during recess was how far could I throw a football.  I don't know why this is the way it is, but I had friends on the spot after I threw the football a good distance down the field.  

This time I was throwing a ball as high as I could straight up in the air.  The kids would run around in circles with their heads jerked to the sky, and their arms straight out fending off anyone around them trying to catch the ball.  They were having a blast!

After a while, my arm was going to fall off, so I crouched down to the ground.  That's when I noticed there were probably 50 kids surrounding me very close.  An idea popped in my head.  I decided (I don't know why) to become a monster!  While the kids waited eagerly for me to get back up and throw the ball, I stood up and made a giant roar sound.  Then I began chasing them all around while they were screaming and laughing.  Honest to God, it was one of the best times I've ever had in my life.  My group was taking lunch at the time.  I thought there is no way I'm just going to sit here while these kids are having recess, and I'm so thankful I went out in the field with them.

The trip was an absolute wonderful experience.  What made me even think of writing on the blog was a a man I met.  I don't have my notes with me now, but I'll add his name and organization once I get to them.  His organization takes kids off the street, and puts them in school.  They pay for everything, including books, clothes, and food.  His organization also has a "soup kitchen" in which my group worked at 3 days out of the 7 while we were in Addis.  He carried himself as just a regular man, even though he was the head of this successful organization; he was very humble.