Highlights of Ethiopia
I’m back! I just returned from Addis Ababa a couple of nights ago and I had to share a few things about this great country filled with so much beauty, history and culture. I actually started writing this at the airport while waiting for our flight back to Houston, but I had to put it on hold as soon as my 26-hour journey started. Yes, I know, that’s a very very long trip. It took about 26 hours from me leaving my hotel to the airport, to flying across continents and finally getting home to Houston. Like most people, I spent my time watching movies, listening to an audio book, eating, chatting and of course sleeping. I traveled with my cousin to Ethiopia for the 10th Stop Cervical, Breast & Prostate Cancer in Africa Conference (SCCA), hosted by the Ethiopian First Lady and The Princess Nikky Breast Cancer Foundation (PNBCF), at the African Union Commission.
My cousin and I (L-R)
Cousin, I and Friend (L-R)
First of all, before I share my experience and some cool facts about Ethiopia and its people, I want to give a big shout out to Joachim who was our flight attendant on the plane from Frankfurt, Germany to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I wasn’t a huge fan of the actual Lufthansa airline because of the limited movie selection and poor customer service we received in our cabin from the other flight attendants, but Joachim was exceptional. He was warm, absolutely nice, attentive and understanding throughout the flight. He took the time to engage with the passengers, especially with the children who were sitting in front of the cabin next to him. He was so amazing that when we got to our destination, the children gave him a big hug and we followed to give him a hug and we took a selfie with him. We whole heatedly thanked him for being purely amazing, a bright star and the best flight attendant in my 20 something years of traveling all around the world.
My cousin, I and Joachim (L-R)
Now here are some quick facts about Ethiopia
- It’s a country in East Africa.
- Addis Ababa is the capital.
- Main language is Amharic although they speak some English and have multiple languages based on the region.
- It is said to be the beginning of civilization after Archeologists found the oldest known human ancestors in Ethiopia, the Ardipithecus ramidus kadabba (dating 5.8–5.2 million years old) and (Lucy) Australopithecus anamensis (dating 4.2 million years old).
- Their Solomonic dynasty claims descent from King Menelik I, traditionally believed to have been the son of the queen of Sheba and King Solomon.
- They were never colonized by an European country.
- The people are very down to earth and nice, especially those in customer service positions (lol).
- It was cold, cold and very cold due to the high altitude and mountains.
Food, Fashion & Faith
Their culture can be described as a mix of African and Asian due to the influence of the Indians, Arabs and Italians.
Food – Their food is delicious and appears healthy. A typical Ethiopian dish consists of Injera accompanied by a thick spicy stew called Wat, which frequently includes beef, lamb, vegetables and various types of legumes like lentils and this is generally eaten with the hand. Injera is like a flat bread similar to Pita bread or Naan but made from fermented flour and it’s soft, sour and has a slight soggy texture. I wasn’t a fan of it but I was told by the locals that it’s best eaten when mixed with everything else.
Fashion – Their traditional clothes are usually white made from cotton called Shemma and shiny threads are used to make patterns on the bottom of the garment. Men wear pants and a knee-length shirt with a white collar and women wear simple, long and loose fitted dresses with a shawl.
Faith – Majority of Ethiopians are Christians but there are some Muslims and a minor group of other religions.
PNBCF at the State Dinner
The Best Parts
- The opportunity I had to educate the men and women in Ethiopia on Breast, Cervical and Prostate cancer. Their quest for knowledge and resources was refreshing.
- The amazing people I met from different parts of the world who came together for this cause to “Stop Cancer in Africa” through education, mentoring, networking, creating partnerships and sharing resources. I was truly humbled and honored to be with a group of First Ladies, Delegates and professional men and women from Jhpieggo, Novartis, MD Anderson Cancer Center, GAVI, WHO, Pfizer, UNDP, American Cancer Association, etc.
- Meeting the young Medical Students in Addis Ababa with genuine hunger to serve their community and make a difference in the lives of people using their knowledge and skill. This was a great reminder that in everything we do, we always have to motivate and share or knowledge with the next generation so they can continue and build on the work done for a better future.
This event inspired me and gave me more ideas on walking in my calling, maximizing my full potential and to continue on my quest for knowledge to solve major problems in our community. I’m very excited about the future and I want to encourage everyone to find something they are very passionate about, find a problem to solve that goes beyond you and actually makes a difference in the lives of people.
Have a beautiful day.