Kokosa meetings with Kabeli leaders and Staff


This morning I awoke early to the beautiful sounds of birds singing around the Kokosa guest house.  It is so peaceful and quiet there with the only noises coming from nature a wonderful contrast to the sounds of loud music, car horns, and truck motors.  I dressed, had a banana for breakfast then headed outside to weed the garden.  The guards joined me and we quickly had the whole thing done.  Negesu grabbed the water bucket and watered what was left of the beets.

I filled my suitcase with supplies to process the cows.  We checked a couple of the Arsi heifers for pregnancy, one was and two were not, and we put heat patches and insecticide on the rest of the heifers.  The cows are all looking good, so I hope that we will be able to put embryos in them when I come back in March.  The two Arsi calves that were born are both heifers.  I laughed when Abera told me that they keep the calves in the guard house at night because it gets so cold.  He realized why I was laughing when I explained that we didn’t even take our calves inside at night and the temperatures are much, much colder.

Our 8:00am meeting with the Kabeli leaders finally started at about 10:00am, with one third of them there. Another third of the leaders drifted in over the next hour.  I had Abera give a report on the different projects we were working on or had completed.  I explained that, like building a house, you first needed a solid foundation.  It takes a lot of work before you start seeing the house rising up.  If you don’t build a good foundation first, the house will fall. I told them that now we are working on building a strong foundation so it is going a little slow, but in time it will grow into a great business.

I also spent some time telling them about myself, and instilling in them a vision of a better life.  I explained to them that today was my Dad’s birthday, and I told them that he is a farmer similar to them.  I explained how he helped me learn the value of good work, and how he had given me my first pocket knife while I was still a young boy so that I could use it in a lot of the work that I did. I then presented each of them with a pocket knife and told them that it was to remind them the value of working hard, and encouraged them to use their position as leaders to teach their communities this same principle.

I asked them for their suggestions, comments and questions.  They are very excited to improve the lives of the people in their communities.  We have a lot to do so I am excited to have their support for our project.

After the meeting with the Kabeli leaders, I asked Abera to gather our crew around so that I could talk with them.  I told them that as employees, they represented MAI, and when people saw them, they would think about our company.  I encouraged them to keep that in mind and be good representatives of the company.  I told them that I was very happy to have the Kabeli leaders come and sit on the benches under the tree for our meeting, but I was not happy when some of them walked over and looked at our garden.  I challenged them to all work hard together to make sure that the next time they come we have many different vegetables growing.  I reminded them of what I had said to the Kabeli leaders about work and I gave them all a pocketknife of their own as well.  One of them spoke for the group and apologized that they hadn’t done better and committed to do better in the future.  I thanked them all and said goodbye.  

We gave Negesu more money to work on the road. It is much better than it was, but we still have work to do.  I asked Naritu to be the scribe and keep a record of all of the meetings that we have with the Kabeli leaders.

We made it back to the Negelle office just before our meeting with the local dairy farmers was to begin.  The staff informed us that the farmers had shown up 6 hours earlier at 4:00 Ethiopian time.  Abera called Mulgeta to see what had happened and he assured us that we had told him to set the meeting up for the morning.  Both Abera and I reminded him that I had said afternoon and Abera had clarified the time as 10:00 Ethiopian or 4:00 European.  Failure to communicate.

I drove Abera and Makonen to the school farm to see the harvested alfalfa.  I estimated about ¾ of a ton.  Had I not stopped in last week we wouldn’t have gotten any feed for ATARC.  We talked about weeding the fields and keeping the local animals out, both of which are in really bad shape.  I also noticed that the fences were not looking very good.  As we drove away from Abera’s house, I had a good talk with Makonen, which I talked to Evan about this evening.  Evan brought me his modem so I was able to send out a few emails before it stopped working.  I really depend a lot on the internet.  Being without it helps me to recognize that.


  1. Lonny, we have had our kids out every day weeding, having just moved to a new home where the yard needs a lot of work. That hard work ethic is crucial- but not always easy to teach (we are learning with our kids!) Keep up the great work!

  2. Crystal,
    Thanks! You are right on. The best gift my parents gave me was teaching me how to work. I now realize how much harder it is to teach our children than to just do it ourselves or pay someone to do it for us.


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