Archive | August, 2012

The Third Week

2 Aug

Once again I have neglected this blog. A plague on both my houses! Wait I don’t even own one house, let alone two. Why did that expression immediately come to mind? I’m so confused. Thanks Google! Did I just make a Shakespeare reference? I would be impressed if this was intentional and if it actually made sense in context. I guess I’m not as literary as I thought.

Let’s talk about the internship now.

The last blog I wrote was about the second week at CAST and the following week I was still collecting recipes from the shelter residents and the Survivor Advisory Caucus members for the cookbook. Much has happened since then, but I won’t bombard you with long stories all at once. Despite my absence on this page, I have been taking notes in my little journal and I’ll be writing some of the highlights from each week since late June.

Flashing back! It’s a verb now.

This week I went to the shelter to work – well that is if you consider chatting over coffee, listening to stories, and playing with the most adorable little chocolate baby in the world to be work. Although I’m always very distracted by the wonderful people and the delicious food at the shelter, I was able to collect five recipes and reflections today!

I walked into the shelter home on a Tuesday morning and was greeted by warm, welcoming smiles and hugs. After setting up my laptop at the dinner table, the residents decided who was going to explain their recipe and reflection first. While I was taking down the first recipe, one of the residents, who prefers to go by the name Fitche Little Girl, asked if I would like some coffee. Maybe it was because I felt chilly on that gloomy morning or that it seemed rude to reject the offer– either way I politely responded with a yes and continued talking to Ya Debre Berhan Beauty about her recipe. It wasn’t long before I had forgotten about the coffee request when Fitche set out a beautiful arrangement of coffee, cream, warm milk, sugar, brown sugar, and three plates of different types of cookies before me. I was taken by surprise and at first I thought she was joking. Fitche didn’t know me very well at the time and this gesture was too much work for a stranger. I remember covering my face with both of my hands and shouting, “There’s no way that’s for me! You must be expecting a princess and I am not worthy of such treatment.” Fitche laughed and said, “Well miss, you are a princess to me.” Upon realizing that Fitche was serious, a fierce blush inflamed my face and a uncontrollably repeated a million thank yous. I then enjoyed a special treat and was eventually able to finish up the first recipe: Yashinkurt Assa (sautéed tilapia topped with grilled onions). Delightful!

Learning recipes well enough to write detailed instructions proved to be quite the challenge. First of all, there was an evident language barrier, so I had to rely on (Amharic) translators to communicate with some of the residents. Those who were more comfortable with their English volunteered to translate, which was nice because it created a more relaxed setting for those who seemed shy to talk to me. Secondly, it’s very uncommon to measure ingredients when cooking and some of the ladies were not used to it. We had to whip out measuring cups and spoons to estimate the amount of x ingredient for certain recipes. Lastly, there were many ingredients that were obscure, which means that I’ll have to compose an appendix of some sort. Despite all of the little hurdles, collecting recipes and talking to the residents at the shelter was an overall joy.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention that Lularga made Diningding for lunch and it was absolutely fantastic. (I attached a blurry photo of my plate!)

You know what else is fantastic? Chocolate.

But did you know that up to 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa where the one of the most severe forms of child labor exist? In the early 2000s, news reports and documentaries surfaced, bringing attention to the issue of child slavery in the cocoa industry. The US government estimated that about 1.8 million children are engaged in slave-like practices in West Africa alone.

Let’s define child labor.

According to the International Labour Organization, child labor is “often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity,” and is “harmful to physical and mental development.”

(For more information about the definition, visit–en/index.htm)

While many consumers wanted to attack chocolate corporations by boycotting chocolate (and some actually did), a sharp decline in chocolate sales would have devastated places like Ivory Coast and Ghana. Consequently, a coalition of chocolate corporations, NGOs, and West African governments organized to take a more systematic approach to abolish child slavery in cocoa production. Although some areas have seen major improvements, there is still much work to be done.

Would you like to know more about these efforts and what you can do to help? Even if you aren’t very interested, I strongly encourage you to visit these two websites anyway.

You really don’t know if the workers that picked your oranges received wages or if the shirt on your back was made with slave labor in a Cambodian sweatshop – chances are they probably were. While I don’t think we should all panic about where our goods are coming from (especially in the US where the trade deficit is always pretty high), it’s good to practice knowledgeable consumerism. It’s definitely a work in progress, but I’ve made this a goal of mine. There are definitely more effective ways to do this, but this is a nice start.

Thanks for reading! ✿