Progress in Kokosa - Good News & Bad News

Tonight Joseph and I watched "The Blind Side" which is a movie based on Michael Oher’s early life.  He was living on the streets because he was taken away from his drug addict mother and wouldn’t stay in foster homes.  He was taken in by a Christian family that eventually made him a part of their family.  It was a very good movie about how good people can touch other people’s lives for the better.  I feel very grateful for my family, and for the opportunity that I have to help other people here in Ethiopia.

This morning I pried myself out of bed at 6:30am and headed downstairs to meet Abera. While I was waiting for him, I tried to contact my family on Skype using the dial-up internet connection.  I was excited to get in touch with Erika online, but there was a long delay so we couldn’t communicate very well. {Erika: "It was absolutely ridiculous, totally not even worth continuing to try!"} We finally gave up on Skype, and just chatted on instant messenger until Abera arrived. He & I went over the Kokosa operation while we ate a breakfast of omelets, pancakes, pineapple juice & milk. Joseph & Evan Maxfield joined us towards the end. We drove to Kokosa in Evan’s Land cruiser. I drove about ¼ of the way up there, and all of the way back.  It was my first experience with driving in Ethiopia. I have to admit that I was hesitant to drive, but I knew that I had to overcome my fears and just do it.  I was glad that I did, because it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be.  In fact, I think I did well - almost like an Ethiopian! {Erika: "I'd love to hear the opinions of your passengers on that one!").

In Kokosa, we checked out the new wood bridge that we replaced the old rickety one with. It only cost about $18 for the large trees, and everything else was donated or brought from the farm.  Now the villagers have a very nice, safe bridge to cross, even in the rain. We hiked back up to the homes, and then drove to the corrals where we checked the Boran heifers and the Holstein heifer. The Boran heifers look good, but none of them were pregnant.  The Holstein heifer looked a little bit rough, and when I checked her I found that she had aborted her calf.  I am disappointed with these results, and have been working on understanding all of the reasons. I think that the grass up here does not provide enough of some of the trace minerals that they need to sustain pregnancy, and the mineral supplement that we have been using is apparently not meeting that need.  I have found a feed company in Debre Zeit where we can purchase some supplemental feed to see if that helps.

On our way back to the homes, we stopped to check the seep spring.  Nothing had been done with it since we left, and they cattle had tromped around and buried the pipe to the point that we couldn’t even find it.  I will need to work with our team on getting the work streamlined here. On a very positive note, Abera has the main house looking very good. He spent about $8, and had bamboo benches built under a tree in front of the homes. You can see Joseph and Abera sitting on these benches in the picture on left. 

The benches and blooming trees behind create a beautiful backdrop to the place. He has most of the home furnished now, and carpet on the floor. I would almost feel comfortable having Erika stay there now. The kitchen will need to be stocked, and we are still waiting on electricity, which may take a year. {Erika: "As long as I can have a heating blanket and several great pillows, I can stay anywhere! So, yeah, that means you have to have electricity, dear.} Overall, I am very pleased with the work that Abera has done. He is one of a kind, and I am very glad that I have him leading my team. 

Tonight we stopped at the Shalom juice bar and introduced Joseph to Ethiopian juices, which are very thick, similar to fruit smoothies in the U.S., but so much more delicious! He started right out with the "esprice", which is a mixture of all of the juices. {Erika: "So, what did he think?"} They didn’t have the lights on, so we were trying to read the menu by cell phone light.  They did bring a candle to our table, but the wind kept blowing it out. At the hotel, we had chicken & fries for dinner, which was pretty good. It was a good end to a day mixed with bad news & good news. I will focus on the positive, to what I can to change the negative, and look forward to more good news in the future.


  1. Just enjoying your log of events. What a great opportunity to have your son there with you. It must be frustrating to have the poor results with the cows. I'm sure you'll figure it out. Hang in there.



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