So, I’m going to Ethiopia…

….Actual Ethiopia. Not just some trendy Bristol cafe that sells exotic meats – the actual country.

I’m going on Saturday as a guest of World Vision, to raise awareness of the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign and I will visiting all kinds of amazing people and projects, seeing first hand what World Vision have been doing to help Ethiopia develop over the last 30 years. I will be honest though and say I have mixed feelings about it at the moment.

"enough food if"

Let’s put it into a little bit of context.

It would be fair to say that I’ve led a pretty sheltered life when it comes to other countries and cultures. We never went on family holidays abroad as children, and my only flirtations with foreign travel were school exchanges. As these were often simply ten days spent living with strangers, not understanding anything that was happening and generally feeling terrified, they didn’t exactly give me a positive view of what travel was all about.

I had babies young, and money and time were always an issue – travel fell fairly low down on my list of things to do. I have tried harder over the last couple of years, but have still yet to explore any further than about Spain, and quite frankly that was too hot for me.

Ethiopia then. It’s going to be a little outside my comfort zone. About 3,000 miles outside it actually.

That’s not to say I’m not incredibly excited, and honoured to have been chosen to take part in the trip. I’m sure it’s going to be absolutely amazing, and I could never have said no, but if I’m totally honest, I am anxious too. Partly it’s just the natural trepidation that comes with doing something new, but I’m also worried about how I am going to react to the poverty we’re sure to see, and the struggles and challenges that women – essentially mums just like me – have to face every day. I cry at the VW ad where the girl grows up and her dad gives her a new car – how am I going to cope with seeing women and children effected by poverty, disease and difficult living conditions?

This is where you come in.

Obviously it would be great if you could give me a lovely virtual pat on the back and tell me how brave I am, but that’s not really what it’s about – how brave is it exactly just to visit for a week and then come back to my lovely warm house and comprehensive health and welfare system? Not very.

What I need is to know that I am making a difference. It might only be a small difference, but I need to know that something I do or say or write might make you stop and think, just for a minute, and perhaps make a little change in your own life. I’m not saying you have to abandon your home and dig wells, but perhaps reading about women setting up their own businesses, working hard to provide their children with enough to eat, might just make you think twice about binning those leftovers. Maybe knowing that there are farmers struggling to even get their crops to grow might help you make the switch to supporting your local farmers, rather than relying on supermarkets for everything.

Even if you just learn something new, or have a laugh at my expense when I make some horrible cultural faux pas like whipping out a Mars bar in the street because I’m peckish then that’s OK too. I am bound to do something crass like that.

So this is what I’d like you to do:

I’m flying out this weekend and will try every day, from Monday to Friday, to write about the people I have met and the amazing things I have seen that day. Please sign up to my mailing list if you’re not already, so you don’t miss my posts.

For each post, I then want to create a talking point or theme – something that just makes you think about something in particular, and consider how the people I’m meeting in Ethiopia might have an impact on your life. I will have a linky on each post so if you’re a blogger and feel inspired, you can right and share a post too. If you don’t have a blog, I’ll suggest one little thing you could do or change that could make a difference. It won’t be anything massive, but if we all do it, we can tun it into something positive.

We’ll also be on Twitter, using the hashtag #foodfrontline, so follow me or follow the hashtag and do help share our news if you can.

As Margaret Mead said, “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”

17 Comments

  1. 4 March, 2013 / 1:25 pm

    what an amazing opportunity – looking forward to following your journey xx

    • admin
      5 March, 2013 / 9:23 am

      Thanks Sophie!

  2. Sally
    4 March, 2013 / 1:38 pm

    Jo, you will have an amazing experience I’m sure, but be prepared to come home thinking differently from when you went out. I was lucky enough to spend 6 months in Africa several years ago and for someone who had specialized in development economics at University it was a dream come true. Unfortunately by the time I returned I considered my dissertation a load of naive rubbish, written from academic theory, not experience. Africa is such a rich, diverse, but extremely frustrating continent. Never been anywhere like it before or since. Good Luck, I am looking forward to your reports!

    • admin
      5 March, 2013 / 9:23 am

      Thanks Sally – I am totally up for thinking differently. It’s so easy to get stuck in your ways, taking things for granted – I’m really looking forward to giving my perspective a bit of a kick up the backside.

  3. 4 March, 2013 / 2:13 pm

    What a wonderful experience. I’m a bit envious. I wish I could come too! It will change your perspective on life forever. I did some aid work in Nairobi more than 10 years ago now, but I’ve never forgotten every detail and I never stop thinking about it. I would love to be able to go back one day. The children were amazing. They were so happy despite everything and were so much fun to be around. Have a great trip and embrace every moment! I look forward to reading your coverage.

    • admin
      5 March, 2013 / 9:22 am

      Thanks Wendy – that’s one of the things that has really struck me in the preparation and hearing about the country, that despite everything, most people are actually have a really positive outlook on life. I think that will be really inspiring, and hopefully stop me being such a moaner!

  4. 4 March, 2013 / 2:29 pm

    I’ve never been one for going abroad, I’ve only been on a holiday by plane once (and that was a 40 minute flight to Amsterdam) so I really know where you’re coming from about the mixed feelings, but it is such an amazing opportunity and you will have an amazing time. I for one am really looking forward to reading about it :)

    • admin
      5 March, 2013 / 9:21 am

      Thanks Jenny – I’m really looking forward to writing about it too – it will make a change from posts about failed baking attempts and annoying kids!

  5. 4 March, 2013 / 2:44 pm

    Wow! What an opportunity Jo! I’ll be following your journey (metaphorically, I won’t be hiding in your suitcase – bit difficult with these boobs,) so best of luck and looking forward to reading all about it! x

    • admin
      5 March, 2013 / 9:20 am

      Hahaha! I am totally imagining you popping out of my suitcase, adjusting your bra a bit, and going TADA!

  6. 4 March, 2013 / 4:38 pm

    This is an amazing opportunity, but also a very scary one and I admire you for doing it. Not just for the several thousand miles, but for removing your blinkers and seeing Ethiopia for what it is, I’m not sure I’d have the strength to do so. I shall try my utmost to read and comment o every post, sharing where possible.

    • admin
      5 March, 2013 / 9:19 am

      I think that’s the scariest bit – just not knowing what to expect from a country and culture so far removed from anything I’ve experienced before. It’s really reassuring though to be going with World Vision and a couple of other bloggers as I’ll have plenty of support – it must be pretty daunting to make a trip like that on your own.

  7. 4 March, 2013 / 4:49 pm

    I’m looking forward to hearing about it. I’m sure that it is going to be a challenging trip, and I don’t blame you for being nervous, but I’m sure that you’ll get a lot out of it, as well as being able to share what you learn there.

    • admin
      5 March, 2013 / 9:18 am

      Thanks Jax – I’m sure I will get a lot out of it – I’m going ready to have my mindset changed for good!

  8. Kathryn
    5 March, 2013 / 11:26 am

    you are so lucky Jo and I am somewhat envious. hope you have a great and enriching experience and that you achieve at least in part what you set out to do. most of all be open to new experiences and enjoy. look forward to hearing about it. stay safe

  9. 9 March, 2013 / 9:49 am

    Wow. What an amazing opportunity. Can’t wait to read all about it :-)

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