The Award Winning Solar Energy Foundation

The Solar Energy Foundation was recently selected as one of three Ashden prize winners. The Ashden prizes are awarded by a British environmental group to organizations (like SEF) that work at the grassroots level to improve the environment. Our Ethiopian director, Samson, flew to London to receive the award from Prince Charles. A big deal for our foundation, but an even bigger deal was that the prize carried a $30,000 windfall with it. I doubt I will get my cut, so the funds will likely go toward furthering our solar expansion in rural Ethiopia.

All foreigners in this country are called “farenji” by the Ethiopians. The etymology of this word is uncertain, but possibly comes from a permutation of English slang for a French person, “frenchie.” (Frenchie, Farenji…get it?) Especially rural Ethiopians have trouble distinguishing the ethnic background of one farenji from another. One guy asked me, “Are you Russian or Asian?” Somehow he picked up that I wasn’t African. I have walked down a village path and heard people behind me say loudly, “China.”

In fact there are a lot of Chinese workers in Ethiopia, many in highway construction. These highways are a gift from the Chinese government. But there are many ex-pat Chinese in business jobs as well. In fact, at times I see nearly as many Chinese as I do Caucasian foreigners.

Fresh juice is available year round; the flavor depends on what is in season. Now I am enjoying a choice of orange, papaya, mango, and guava. Either straight up or blended, all for about one buck. But the real seasonal treat is avocado juice. Now if you puree an avocado you basically get guacamole – – a bit too thick to drink. So they dilute the pureed avocado with some water, bottled I hope, and then add a touch of sugar, otherwise it might still taste like guacamole. Try it at home, quite a refreshing way to drink your vegetable. And I suspect it goes well with tacos.

Depending on the route I choose for my morning jog, I will pass some combination of the following educational institutions: University for Peace, Miracle Health College, Good News Youth Academy, Future Generation Hope School, the School of the Future, and the somewhat redundantly titled, City University College. So many opportunities for learning…and if we could just get the truant shoeshine boys to attend one of these institutions, they – – and Ethiopia – – would be the better for it. On my route are both the Light of Today School and the School for Tomorrow. The later is evidently the one that the shoeshine boys plan to attend – – someday. The Community Development Center, despite its high sounding name, is actually a bar. I also pass the “Freind ship Pub.” Apparently too much time in the pub and not enough time in school.

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