Last week I had the fortunate opportunity to travel to the orderly and refreshing Bahir Dar. The sweet Lake Tana air and busy Bajajs welcomed me on my drive to the Summerland Hotel.
Honeymooners come swoon by the lake’s shallow banks, while the city booms with the industrious sounds of construction. Sometimes I have to blink a few times and recite to myself I am in Ethiopia. I am in Ethiopia. And I have to stop from thinking except that this place looks nothing like it! Flowers in a multitude of colours I could not begin to name freckle the city’s wide boardwalks. Bright bertukans (oranges) and mooz (bananas) radiate bountifully from the market stands. Bahir Dar is a breath of sprightly air.
As I visited Bahir Dar for MEDA purposes, I had the pleasure of meeting the field staff. I also received the pleasure of eating a sheep, which I saw as a lifeless lamb in the office garden at 10, a carcass being skinned and sliced at 10:30, and scrumptious morsels on a bed of injera by 12:30. The concept of eating something so connected to a living thing disturbed me but not enough to deter me from the tender meat. The experience revealed some truth of what we eat when we consume meat. For the staff, the slaughtered lamb was a symbol of celebration in moving to a new office.
As for my assignment, I can not express through writing how thrilled I was to work on a business plan for Ato (Mr.) Belay, a rice processor. Ato Belay is investing in improved processing equipment, not only to increase his production but also to benefit farmers. My Ethiopian coworker, Alem, and I interviewed Ato Belay to collect his financial data. I was so delighted to put my accounting skills freshly acquired from business school to work that I stayed up all night making elaborate financial statements and projections. Only to discuss the statements the following morning with Alem and have them reasonably simplified. After finalizing the business plan, Ato Belay sent the business plan to the local government office. He hopes to get approved for increased land acquisition in order to support his soon-to-arrive new processing machine. I sincerely hope the proposal is sufficient. Ultimately, Ato Belay will be responsible for creating financial statements, which is why MEDA intends to train rice processors in bookkeeping.