On Thursday we woke up early to visit Seife’s, a coffee distributor run by the Swedish-Ethiopian Seife Tuuloskorpi. Seife’s is not only very passionate about coffee but it also has a conscious approach to coffee production and distribution and works closely with local farmers to enhance an ethical and sustainable coffee distribution. Apart from learning about the Ethiopian coffee industry, we also got the chance to experience the way professionals taste coffee. It was a very informative and not least a very tasteful experience.
Here we are tasting ten different kinds of coffee. The coffee beans are first ground, secondly, the coffee brews for four minutes. After that, it´s time for tasting! Grab a spoon and slurp some coffee really fast, feel the taste and spit it out.
Ethiopia has great preconditions for coffee production and the country has some of the best coffee in the world, however, the structures of production and distribution are not as effective as they could be. In sum, we learnt a lot about the Ethiopian coffee and it was amazing to taste coffee in the country in which it originated from.
After the coffee, we met up with two newly found friends who showed us the market Shiro Meda where we bought some beautiful handmade fabric. This day we also discovered a hidden treasure of Ethiopia, mango juice- it tastes like a cloud and it came to be our go-to drink during the rest of our trip- except coffee of course. After this, we continued our ride up to Entoto mountain, the highest peak in Addis. There, we got a beautiful view of the city and we saw the Entoto Museum, Maryam Church and the palace of Emperor Menelik II and Empress Taytu Betul, the founders of Addis Ababa.
The mountain is densely covered by eucalyptus trees imported from Australia. The wood from eucalyptus trees are widely used in the country, for example as building material and construction scaffolds, something we saw all over the city since Addis is in a phase of rapid expansion.
As previous blog posts have accounted for, Ethiopia is experiencing a lot of rapid political changes led by the new Prime minister Dr Abiy Ahmed. The new political leadership has made efforts to promote women’s political empowerment. For instance, last year the first female president Sahle-Work Zewde was appointed and 50 percent of the government’s top ministerial positions ought to be occupied by women. According to many people we spoke with, the enhancement of gender equality on the political level has more of a symbolic but yet a very important meaning for the overall promotion of gender equality in the country.
In the late afternoon, we visited a safe house run by the Association of Women’s Sanctuary and Development (AWSAD) to learn more about the situation for Ethiopian women. AWSAD is a non-governmental non-profit organization that provides services for women and girls who have survived different types of violence, often sexual abuse. The organisation is working with a holistic perspective through three main pillars: (1) Providing safe shelter and immediate care for survivors of violence (2) Income-generating activities such as skill training to empower the survivor’s economic independence, and (3) capacity building programs toward the prevention of violence. In the safe house, women and girls are provided with psychological counselling, medical care, legal advice in potential judiciary processes, education and daycare for the children and literacy classes and skill training for the women. The women also get help to enter the labour market after rehabilitation. As part of their preventative work, AWSAD provides capacity building programs with community leaders, police officials, school children, parents and prosecutors.
When we left the meeting we were filled with hope after witnessing the impressive and important work that they do as an organization but also with anger and frustration that this kind of work is needed in Ethiopia and the rest of the world. During this visit, we learnt more about the issue of gender-based violence in Ethiopia. However, what struck us is the many similarities in what women and girls face all across the world.
Overall, this day was full of adventures and strong impressions, hence the long text. Thank you for reading!
Åsa Källander & Maria Löwdin