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  • MEDA Projects
    to sell her rice in local markets and several supermarkets in Addis She has not only put parboiled rice on the market but has also shown the value of women as key players and entrepreneurs in the rice industry Tags Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture Private Sector Development MEDA Interns 2014 MEDA Projects Continue reading Ethiopia 4387 Hits Monday 24 November 2014 Leadership and Inspiration in Everyday Life Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern I m nearing the end of my third month in Ghana and am still learning and doing something new every day Overall I absolutely love my life and work here Whether I m learning how to build keyhole gardens in the villages for the dry season or documenting our semi annual Project Advisory Committee meeting to get insights into the GROW strategies I m constantly growing professionally and personally as well as getting my daily dose of inspiration Recently I had one of these moments of absolute admiration and inspiration in Maase village Jalal my GROW team member and I had an early morning and a bumpy ride to this village in Upper West District I was taking pictures videos and interviewing Mary the proud new owner of a keyhole garden Her GROW group of women farmers had come to help with the construction and to learn how to build the gardens for themselves from Jalal s demonstration Several layers into the construction the garden was starting to come together but needed more top soil The women had to gather additional soil from outside of Mary s fenced in property So the women and some men formed an assembly line to pass bucket of top soil to the construction site of the keyhole garden A true testament to teamwork and support but more than that despite the fact they had been working in the heat all morning to build this garden for their group member they started singing songs laughing and smiling as they were passing buckets of soil along the assembly line I was so touched and impressed by this beautiful display of community The women showed so much strength unity and joy with access to opportunities their potential to change their communities Ghana and the world is endless My time here in Ghana hasn t been without its challenges but getting to work in this area of my passion women s empowerment is really all I need to relight my motivation I m truly inspired every day being surrounded by strong women Whether it s through these incredible moments with the women in the villages or by the strong female leaders on our MEDA team it serves as a constant reminder as to why this work is so important Tags Communications intern Women MEDA Interns 2014 MEDA Projects Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3562 Hits Friday 21 November 2014 Hard work and a bit of luck Kevin Linklater Program Support Enterprise Development Intern This week we had a Project Advisory Committee or PAC meeting in Wa The meeting was attended by a majority of MEDA Ghana country staff MEDA staff from HQ in Canada representatives from our five key facilitating partners KFPs folks from the Canadian embassy in Accra and DFATD as well as a representatives from the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture This was my first PAC meeting What I was able to take away is that things seem to be on the up and up There was a great deal of optimism for year three of the project and I feel like things have improved in that regard since the last PAC meeting in June This optimism will surely be necessary The project has ambitious targets and the rate of uptake by the clients i e the number of women planting soybeans within the GROW project must increase drastically for next year s planting season and in subsequent years for these targets to be met I have two thoughts on this Initially I fear that the low hanging fruit has already been targeted so to speak that it will be difficult to convince the remaining women who are enrolled in GROW but aren t yet planting to plant next season These remaining women are perhaps more risk averse and will be very hesitant to try something new making achieving the targets set for the number of women planting a tall order Countering this is that the initial work put in with the other value chain actors will hopefully yield more reliable service and more stronger linkages after a longer duration relationship has developed enabling more women to access these crucial services and inputs when they need them and allow more to plant This will work in the project s favour going forward and be a positive factor in the following years that was not present at the outset I think it will come down to whether or not women who have planted in the past were successful In groups where women have been successful and have earned a decent income from their crop it will encourage more women from those groups to plant next year However in groups where women encountered problems and were unable to earn an income or a high enough income to justify their efforts it will be very hard to convince additional women from those groups to try planting and indeed it may be hard to retain the numbers we do have The abilities and strengths of our field officers will affect this to a degree but I have learned that it is very hard to change people s perceptions and change ideas that have been long held and are entrenched Some of the shortfalls from last season were due to bad luck such as poor weather In some of these communities successes will beget more success but in communities that experienced difficulties we will certainly have our work cut out for us Tags MEDA Projects Enterprise Development Intern MEDA Interns 2014 Women Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3621 Hits Thursday 30 October 2014 Arba Minch A humbling visit with VSLA groups in Chano Dorga Clara Yoon Communication and Program Support Intern I recently traveled to Arba Minch for my first field visit in southern Ethiopia The main purpose of the trip was to visit clients and collect information to write up briefs for an donor tour that s taking place here in a few weeks Spending a few days out of the city was refreshing I especially appreciated meeting various clients hearing from them personally how they have been positively impacted by the project I also gained a new appreciation for our field staff in Arba Minch who are vital to the project They hosted me very well in the midst of their busy schedules The highlight of the trip was our first site visit We went to a village called Chano Dorga to meet with 2 Village Savings and Loans Association VSLA groups I m thankful to have been there for the first 1 5 days with Doris our country manager She has a wealth of knowledge and experience in micro finance and international development Doris asked the questions and then the clients responses were translated I wrote down everything as fast as I could The members of both VSLA groups were eager to speak and share their successes with us They were also very thankful to the project as I often heard ameseginalehu which means thank you While Ethiopians living in rural parts of the country have awareness of traditional saving methods it s still difficult to save Generally saving habits are poor due to low levels of income or lack of financial literacy However through the project clients training and education on financial literacy how to save budget and access credit Through this training they can take steps to start improving their household income When target households experience livelihood improvements their vulnerability to resorting to child labor decreases This is huge When I first read about E FACE I didn t quite understand the connection of why our project was working in the South Yet I learned that traditional weaving is originally from the South and there is a growing demand for hand woven textile products This is why child labor and child trafficking are such big issues in Ethiopia The diligence of these savings groups really amazed me They initially started out saving 5 ETB 25 cents USD a week and now they save 10 ETB 50 cents USD Some members even save two fold in which they receive more in dividends It was humbling to sit with them in their village and hear their stories Saving a small amount of money each week has opened up opportunities that they otherwise would not have had This is why the successes and life changes of our E FACE clients are very inspiring They save each week for the sake of their families and communities They also took the knowledge and skills offered through the project and put them into practice to bring positive change to their families and communities I don t think the issue of financial illiteracy is isolated to developing countries In North America debt is a really big problem It may be a different strand of financial issues but perhaps reveals learning about finance and money is needed back at home as well I personally would like to learn more about personal finances how to budget and how to save These are skills and habits that require training awareness and self discipline It s really exciting to hear about our clients future plans and aspirations as they have set goals to save more and expand their business endeavours I hope to have another opportunity to visit the field meet more clients and capture more of their success stories to demonstrate the amazing work being done through E FACE Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Economic Opportunities Youth MEDA Projects Communication and Program Support Intern Continue reading Ethiopia 4012 Hits Friday 10 October 2014 E FACE Site Visit in Addis Ababa Clara Yoon Communication and Program Support Intern I had the pleasant surprise of being able to join our team on today s site visits which included various interventions such as Business Owners BOs and Village Savings and Loan Association VSLA Technical and Vocational Education Training TVET and Building Skills for Life The day started out driving across the city to an area called Shiro Meda where we visited the first intervention of BOs and VSLA The youth representatives seemed to get a kick out of seeing me there I m guessing they weren t expecting me to be there While I didn t understand most of the conversations my colleague Tsedey translated what one of the youth shared she spoke about the valuable lessons and training received in the area of saving Through their weekly savings the youth gain capacity to purchase their own notebooks something I wouldn t even have to think twice about back at home Our second visit was to a TVET site where youth received training at a hair salon school When I entered the building the youth were busy working away at doing people s hair It was interesting to see a fair amount of males receiving this training whereas at most hair schools in Canada the students are mostly female My highlight of the entire day was the last site We drove down a very bumpy road to a government work space where youth participants in the Building Skills for Life program were working with weaving looms Building Skills for Life targets young workers ages 14 17 and provides them with practical education and training so that the youth can be empowered to create opportunities for themselves The program also includes technical training on traditional weaving which is what I was able to see for myself through the visit The youth seemed pretty shy as I went around with my camera but once I started getting a few shots some of the youth seemed to be alright with me taking pictures of their work Some of the pieces were very intricate and it amazes me that they learn and develop these skills in order to make a living for themselves at such a young age I m thankful I had the opportunity to join today s site visits It really brought the past few weeks of what I ve been working on in the office to life It s one thing when you see E FACE numbers reports and documents It was refreshing to see the clients and get a better understanding of how this project is really impacting lives especially those in the textile industry Of course I still have so much to learn and grasp about the project and overall child labor in Ethiopia especially in traditional weaving which makes me even more eager to get out into the field and to the sites In the future I ll be traveling to Arba Minch to see E FACE s field work and interventions I m really excited to see a different part of Ethiopia and look forward to meeting more clients Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Agriculture Communication and Program Support Intern MEDA Projects Private Sector Development Continue reading Ethiopia 4808 Hits Friday 03 October 2014 More than economics Kevin Linklater Program Support Enterprise Development Intern My second day in Tamale and I am slowly getting used to the pace of things here My fellow intern Clarissa Heger has been an invaluable help showing me some good spots in Tamale and introducing me to the rest of the staff at the office here The real work has yet to start but I have been getting good background information from the office team here The week before I arrived some of the office staff attended the opening of a soy processing facility in Wa which is where I will be doing most of my work One of the principal tasks I will be engaged with will be publicizing and explaining the process of producing soy milk so that potential investors will be able to see the opportunities of this particular market There is an entrepreneur who has already invested in this and who will be buying soy from the farmers that MEDA has trained The more buyers and markets that exist for soy the better and developing this market will mean more opportunities and earning potential for the smallholder farmers who are producing soy However numerous challenges exist Soy milk is a very foreign product here in Northern Ghana and creating demand for it will be a challenge Also competing with cheap imported soy will be a challenge for producers here I have just come off of a 3 month contract working in the Department of Agriculture at the provincial legislature in my hometown of Winnipeg Part of my duties there entailed putting together a daily news briefing for the minister and other staff I am fairly well versed now in the movement of key commodity prices and trends in agriculture The world will see a very large soy crop this year as several key countries including the United States the world s largest producer and Brazil are harvesting record crops The downward pressure this will put on soy prices will be problematic as the soy processors that exist here may look to cheap imports Conversely though the Ghanaian cidi has been depreciating and this makes importing more expensive which will make domestically produced soy more attractive to processors here All of this highlights the risks of the marketplace and doing business in a globally traded commodity However the diversification of Ghana s agricultural sector will help mitigate these downside risks For too long Ghana s agriculture sector relied on the export of cocoa With the development of other crops and products the price swings of one commodity will be mitigated Furthermore any displacement of imports with domestically production will improve the country s balance of payments and put the country on a sounder economic footing This in and of itself is laudable However this is only one small aspect of the GROW project The main goal of GROW is to improve the incomes of rural women and the nutritional outcomes of their families The benefits this would have are too numerous to mention here and would far outweigh the narrow benefits identified above and I will leave that for a later blog post Needless to say this is a very exciting project to be involved with Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Enterprise Development Intern Women MEDA Projects Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3243 Hits Thursday 02 October 2014 Fadila s Story Soybeans for School Fees Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern This past week I had the pleasure of joining a wonderful passionate and committed group of MEDA supporters visiting us from Canada for a MEDA field experience It was a jam packed schedule with lots of meetings village visits cultural excursions and new adventures We had so many inspiring highlights fun experiences and moments of growth but today I want to tell you about one encounter that stood out to me above all others About half way into the field experience we visited a little village called Tampala where with the help of our NGO partner PRONET MEDA started the GROW project We were so warmly welcomed by the women farmers their families and the village chiefs which even included one female chief It was moving to see so many women successfully growing soybeans hear about how they re able to make more household decisions and better support their children While intently listening to the achievements and challenges of the women GROW groups I was circling the group to document our visit with lots of pictures I found myself standing next to a young woman in a pink shirt She had shared her perspective to a few of the group s questions and her natural leadership charismatic personality and vibrancy came across clearly despite the language barrier I asked her if I could take her picture and we got to talking To my surprise my new friend Fadila spoke very good English So with her permission I d like to tell you her story Fadila is eighteen years old and was born and raised in Tampala She lives with her mother father her father s second wife his third wife has passed away four brothers and four sisters Unfortunately Fadila was just six months shy of finishing senior high school when due to family s inability to pay for school fees she was forced to drop out As is sadly often the case her brothers education was prioritized all four are still in school but none of the girls in her family are That s not going to stop Fadila though she s growing an acre of soybeans and plans to use her proceeds from selling the crop to go back to school Fadila wants to be a nurse It s not easy to grow soybeans she mentioned harvesting the crop destroys your hands but she s determined and I have no doubt that she ll achieve her goals Plus she s already experimented with soybeans by incorporating them into local dishes such as paola by making a boiled soybean dumpling and tambra adding soybeans to a maize beans and rice dish I didn t get a chance to try these but as soy loving vegetarian they sound delicious Fadila and I got along so well that she suggested I marry one of her brothers so I could come live in Tampala with her which made us both laugh I am so impressed by Fadila s strength resolve and positivity and will definitely visit her again during my time here so we can catch up about this year s harvest and how she s progressing in school Tags MEDA Interns 2014 MEDA Projects Economic Opportunities Women Communications intern Continue reading Ghana 3428 Hits Tuesday 16 September 2014 GROWing Women s Empowerment in Northern Ghana Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern Hello MEDA Family My name is Clarissa I m the new communications intern for the MEDA GROW Project Greater Rural Opportunities for Women in Tamale Ghana I arrived in here about two weeks ago and it s been a busy exciting and fun ride so far I had my first field visit to Wa last week where our other MEDA office is just about 4 hours from Tamale I truly enjoyed meeting the MEDA field staff and our partner NGOs there Although I have to admit that my favorite part was getting to visit two of the GROW communities in upper west region Tanziri and Penetobo In true Ghanaian fashion we were so kindly welcomed with much singing and dancing which was such a blast We got to see the women s soybean fields listen the groups challenges and successes and thank them abundantly for having us which was of course followed by more dancing I am so impressed by these incredible women And here s why Part of GROW is that our partner NGOs implement gender trainings in these communities For one activity they have each the men and the women list their daily tasks Here s what they found The men on average had 2 tasks one of which is riding their bicycle to sit under a tree and play a board game with their friends The women on the other hand had 18 tasks including cooking cleaning farming getting water caring for the children just to name a few Although I have known about the unequal work distribution of women and seen it in similar communities in other parts of the world it still blows my mind every time I inquired if there was any progress as a result of these gender trainings Here are some of these results they shared Listing the tasks out helped some of the men see that the work distributions was unfair so they consented to help the women who usually walk to carry water to bring the water on their bicycle on their way home Other men now understand that the women have been working all day and sometimes it takes longer to finish their tasks Finally some men decided to take their dishes to the women after they finished eating so that these can be washed Clearly we have a long way to go toward gender equality but change in these rural communities happens slowly and at least these little steps are progress in the right direction Plus because of the GROW project women have been growing and selling soybeans and now are able to contribute financially to the household which helps to raise their status and financial decision making power Mostly women use their earnings to purchase food and send their children to school I will never be able to understand what it is like to be born here in Tanziri or Penetobo but I am so inspired by the incredible strength selflessness perseverance warmth and work ethic these women have I am grateful and excited to have the opportunity to contribute to the GROW project to learn from MEDA and these women to share their stories and see how the spark of empowerment will slowly but surely spread through their communities Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communications intern Economic Opportunities MEDA Projects Women Continue reading Ghana 3925 Hits Wednesday 30 April 2014 A Sense of Empowerment Jessica Adach Gender Intern Women s Economic Opportunities One of the main objectives of the GROW project is to build the capacities of our Lead Farmers female farmers who are chosen to represent their women s groups so that they will have the skills to maintain their practices as entrepreneurs even after the project is completed in their communities This process can also be very empowering for the women teaching agricultural practices to ensure their soybean crops produce good yields providing communities with gender sensitization to avoid stereotypes demonstrating different ways of using soybean to benefit their families and promoting group savings accounts so women can manage their own funds One of the most recent examples of both capacity building and empowerment was last week a select number of Lead Farmers were brought to Tamale for two days to participate in the Pre Season Forum an agricultural event that brings together different actors in the soybean value chain The Lead Farmers were able to attend discussions network and observe demonstrations of farming technology The following day the group was taken to meet with a shea processor and learn about the details of collecting the fruit making it into butter packaging it and selling it to buyers Although the GROW project focusses on soybean production an important element is maintaining the farmers businesses throughout the year this may mean engaging in other income generating activities especially during the dry season after soy is cultivated After these two days of introducing the farmers to different people as well as new agricultural innovations MEDA held a small reception at the office Over biscuits and juice the women were asked what their most memorable moment was during their stay or something interesting they had learned For many women visiting Tamale was their favourite part some of them had never travelled from their communities to the town For others the highlight was attending an event with different people involved in agriculture Many Lead Farmers left with contacts of other farmers and links to input suppliers Another element they enjoyed was meeting each other Although they are all part of the GROW project the selected Lead Farmers were from different communities of the Upper West Region They were happy to meet other women like themselves and share their experiences Regardless of what their most memorable experience was the emphasis lies in the fact that the women were chosen to participate because MEDA believes in them in their skills and capabilities both as farmers and as women Providing them this sense of accomplishment is almost more important than providing them with something tangible It is with this confidence that the Lead Farmers will go forward in their communities and truly embrace their multifaceted identities as mother business person farmer and woman and continue to be the role models MEDA knows they are Tags Gender Intern Economic Opportunities MEDA Interns 2013 Women MEDA Projects Continue reading Ghana 3967 Hits Thursday 27 March 2014 Catching up with Prudence Jessica Adach Gender Intern Women s Economic Opportunities I have met and interacted with so many women farmers our targeted clients during my work in Ghana and am always interested in learning about their experiences and how they are impacted by MEDA Recently I sat down with Prudence a Lead Farmer whose participation I began noticing more and more as she became increasingly active within her community This is her story within the GROW project I first met Prudence in September Visitors from headquarters Wally and his wife Millie and Marlin had come to interview farmers We learned that Prudence was a mother of two girls a wife of a trader and had devoted an acre of land out of the 6 acres her husband owns to soybean cultivation In fact it was her first year planting soybean The crop looked lush and she was excited to participate in the project When asked about how she would spend the income earned from her yield Prudence said she wanted to be a teacher and would put the money towards that because she felt with MEDA s help in the future she would be someone Some of Prudence s story was then published in The Marketplace In October I was pleasantly surprised to see Prudence in Tamale at the pre harvest forum a conference that links farmers buyers input dealers and other actors in the agricultural value chain together to network We had asked our partners to choose a representative farmer from their communities to attend the event Prudence had been selected She came in a beautiful dress which she quickly traded in favour of a GROW t shirt she received and her hair had been nicely done I watched as she participated in a meeting where the price of soybeans was negotiated amongst processors asked questions after watching threshing equipment being demonstrated and tasted soy milk an example of what she could one day do with her own yields I asked whether or not she liked Tamale it was her first time visiting and she responded with a bright smile and said that she REALLY REALLY enjoyed Tamale Now her friends joke with her if they don t see her around the compound or in the market they claim Oh She must be in Tamale Rachel our senior project manager and Christine MEDA s women s economic development director both came to visit at the end of November We visited some communities to talk with the women about their experiences so far in the project Prudence s community was one of those selected and she was present at the meeting Her confidence and leadership were apparent as she organized the women fetched drinking water for the guests and lead the group in a dance to send us off Likewise during a nutrition training session in December Prudence was eager to participate and share her thoughts on infant and young child nutrition with the other farmers and the male facilitator from Ghana Health Service After returning to Ghana from the Christmas holidays I thought it would be nice to touch base with Prudence after not seeing her for several weeks The first opportunity I was in Wa I arranged to speak with her The field officer who organized the visit surprised me by taking me not to the community meeting place where we usually saw the famers but to Prudence s home As we arrived there she came out of the door laughing You re early She was still wearing a towel after having just bathed Once she was dressed she ran out of the compound and returned minutes later with water for me to drink and offered me a seat on her plastic furniture in the courtyard I asked her about her experience after nearly one year with the project She began by saying I have changed totally She elaborated that she had developed so many new relationships with other farmers she knew more places now again referencing her trip to Tamale and that she can cook at least seven dishes that include soy She told me about the success of her harvest one bag she kept for family consumption while the other three she sold at the market for a good price I was sure to ask what she was doing with this income and she confirmed that it was in her savings account which she emphatically stated was her very own separate from her husband s bank account so she could take classes to become a teacher Prudence stated that her husband is proud of me and that she will continue to cultivate soybeans because it is now her best crop These chats with Prudence I ve had over the six months that I ve now known her really encapsulate what the GROW project is all about empowering women economically through the cultivation of soybean educating clients in the nutritional benefits of the legume and encouraging women s leadership in order to combat food insecurity Prudence has proven that she is capable of achieving this in her household and that she embodies the role of Lead Farmer My time in Ghana is coming to an end but before it does I will be sure to speak to Prudence a final time Although based on how she s grown throughout the project so far I think I know how her story will continue Tags Gender Intern Women MEDA Interns 2013 Economic Opportunities MEDA Projects Continue reading Ghana 3968 Hits Saturday 22 February 2014 Just Flabbergasted Sarah French Impact Assessment Intern Market Access Agriculture This is Jiro de Carmen Altamiran His home is located in rural Santa Barbara a region in Jinotega as he put it from the Santa Barbara school 300 blocks north is my house He works with IDEAL a Techno Links partner that works with low pressure micro irrigation systems for small producers Additionally the technology package includes seed fertilizer financing technical assistance and monitoring CARITAS another non governmental organization in Jinotega recommended Jiro to IDEAL Jiro has never had a farm before and now he has 0 7 hectares of land Before he thought the irrigation system would not work because water in his region is contaminated However CARITAS built a well for Jiro to use his irrigation system which also blocks out debris He now grows yucca cucumbers malanga a tropical vegetable and onions with the irrigation system This is a flabbergast kind of story because I saw a real change in the client and their family Jiro is now 58 with a wife who is a preschool teacher attending school again and a daughter who will begin preschool soon He was saving money to buy products to burn the ground around him to create space for growing products However IDEAL recommended not to do this because it contaminates the air with chemicals Now he s using that saved money to buy pencils and paper for his daughter when she attends school Jiro has not only saved money by using the irrigation system but he has also been able to save time Having to only turn on the irrigation system Jiro waits an hour while plants are being watered but spends this time with his wife and daughter which he previously could not do I was not able to gain more information about how Jiro was doing with his crops because his first ever harvest is still coming up but I wish him all the best Tags Agriculture Impact Assessment Intern MEDA Projects MEDA Interns 2013 Private Sector Development Continue reading Nicaragua 3738 Hits Friday 31 January 2014 Searching for markets in Ghana s Upper West Daniel Penner Communications Impact Assessment Intern Women s Economic Development Living in rural Africa it s difficult to connect with sustainable outside markets especially as a woman The project that I work on Greater Rural Opportunities for Women GROW looks to link women and their families with markets to develop a lasting income Here s a brief review of a recent trip in the field GROW clients are currently at an important stage it s the first year of harvest and the women farmers are looking for markets to sell their soybeans Learn about the difficulties of finding markets in Ghana s Upper West one of poorest and least food secure regions in the country and what MEDA is doing to help solve this problem Tags Communications Impact Assessment Intern Economic Opportunities MEDA Interns 2013 MEDA Projects Women Continue reading Ghana 3876 Hits Friday 24 January 2014 QUE RICO MIEL Sarah French Impact Assessment Intern Market Access Agriculture This week I had a little taste of what it was like to be a beekeeper known as an apiarist for INGEMANN FOOD in the region of Boaco Nicaragua INGEMANN is a grant recipient of a MEDA program called Techno Links They are an exporter of organic honey Local beekeepers were loosing honey and panels were being broken when they were manually being taken out of the bee box Throughout Canada and Central America there is an external parasite mite called Varroa Destructor This mite attacks honeybees and causes a disease called varroatosis This disease spreads throughout the colony causing bees to be weak and have infections that ultimately kills the hive To improve these challenges INGEMANN has been producing queen bees in their bee yard to sell to local beekeepers in Boaca Every two years beekeepers need to

    Original URL path: http://meda.org/intern-blogs-yc/tags/meda-projects (2016-02-17)
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  • Top 5 reasons why I love my job - MEDA
    GROW project has had a busy start to the new year packed with trainings field visits and visitors from headquarters on top of the usual work Luckily when you love what you do there s a lot of fun involved and working for a good cause always keeps me going The New Year also brought great news for me I m thrilled to announce that I ve been offered an internship extension and I will be continuing my work as part of the GROW team for another six months here I m so happy to be able to stay here longer and am really excited to contribute more to the GROW project embrace new challenges take more learning opportunities and make deeper connection with people In celebration of my awesome news I thought I d provide a little more insight into why I love my job Supporting real change During my field work I get chance to meet the rural women soybean farmers and learn about their lives families successes and troubles I can t help but leave completely in awe of their strength openness and determination it s incredibly inspiring every time I feel so fortunate to be able to share their stories and how the GROW project is improving the women s and their families lives I really love that part of my job Our MEDA Team I have the pleasure of being surrounded by very supportive smart and fun people For the first day that I arrived I was warmly welcomed into the GROW family and we ve only gotten closer since then It s a great to be part of the team that works together grows together and supports one another Thank you all for being your wonderful selves It never gets boring There are constantly new projects and challenges coming my way Whether it s working through cross cultural barriers figuring out the process of getting marketing materials printed or learning about a new aspect of GROW I m constantly solving problems and learning new things GROWing professionally Working for MEDA comes with the perk of being surrounded by some of the best and brightest minds in international development Just last week we had MEDA s Ann Gordon take our team through an advanced value chain training that taught us all about value chain analyses tools and Ghana s soybean industry Plus we actually got to practice our new skills in the field Making connections I m always getting to meet new and interesting people Just a couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of hosting Kim Pityn MEDA s Chief Operations Officer and Dave Warren MEDA s Chief Engagement Officer from MEDA headquarters It was great to get to know them learn about their roles hear about their experiences and exchange ideas with them Tweet Tags Communications intern MEDA Interns 2014 MEDA Projects Women Economic Opportunities Why access to financial services can open doors fo The generosity of others About the author Clarissa

    Original URL path: http://meda.org/stories-from-the-field-ghana/entry/top-5-reasons-why-i-love-my-job (2016-02-17)
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  • MEDA
    layers into the construction the garden was starting to come together but needed more top soil The women had to gather additional soil from outside of Mary s fenced in property So the women and some men formed an assembly line to pass bucket of top soil to the construction site of the keyhole garden A true testament to teamwork and support but more than that despite the fact they had been working in the heat all morning to build this garden for their group member they started singing songs laughing and smiling as they were passing buckets of soil along the assembly line I was so touched and impressed by this beautiful display of community The women showed so much strength unity and joy with access to opportunities their potential to change their communities Ghana and the world is endless My time here in Ghana hasn t been without its challenges but getting to work in this area of my passion women s empowerment is really all I need to relight my motivation I m truly inspired every day being surrounded by strong women Whether it s through these incredible moments with the women in the villages or by the strong female leaders on our MEDA team it serves as a constant reminder as to why this work is so important Tags Communications intern Women MEDA Interns 2014 MEDA Projects Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3562 Hits Friday 31 October 2014 Beyond the Rough Bumpy Roads Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern I love being a communications intern because it allows me to learn about all different aspects of the GROW project agriculture gender nutrition monitoring and evaluation and much much more I m always buzzing around partner NGO meetings community visits donor tours staff trainings etc taking tons of pictures and notes to share But I have to say my favorite part of the job is doing field work As part of my responsibilities I have the honor of reporting on the significant changes that are taking part in women farmer s lives due to the GROW project Together with our MEDA team and partner NGOs we identify several women that have become empowered through being part of the GROW project After our field staff preliminarily interviews them I have the great pleasure of doing in depth follow up interviews taking pictures and sharing their stories with people from around the world as well as getting them back to the women and their communities Travel to these rural villages usually requires a start in the early morning hours and what seems like endless driving along rough bumpy and often unpaved roads I can t even tell you how impressed and grateful I am for our drivers they are incredible When we finally make it to the communities I have the privilege of meeting these amazing women Then we find a shady spot under a tree or around their house and with translation assistance of the field staff they share their stories about their soybean fields their families their ambitions and their concerns As is common when you have foreign visitors generally a crowd of curious neighborhood children accumulates within minutes of starting the interview and it has usually tripled in size by the time we finish Then after many thanks and smiles we all pile into the car or walk to the women s soybean fields Here I photograph the women proudly showing their crops and ask a few last questions that come up Then after many more thank you s we pile everyone back in the car and drop them back at home On the ride back I generally find myself reflecting on the women s stories I m always blown away at the strength determination and selflessness of the women I meet Farming is very difficult work but beyond that many of these women lack formal education and to see them decide to switch to growing soybeans so they can for feed and educate their children is inspiring humbling and beyond impressive And that pretty much concludes a typical field visit as you can see there s really nothing typical about them which is why I enjoy them so much Keep an eye out for our newest client stories they ll be coming your way soon Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communications intern Internship Experience Women Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3726 Hits Wednesday 15 October 2014 Morning Runs Red Red and Lovely People Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern These are some of my favorite things I m happy to report that these past couple of weeks I ve finally been settling in After almost a month of searching I finally found an awesome roommate and a safe apartment A little two bedroom off a main road with electricity running water and even has AC pretty fancy I ve been taking full advantage of having a kitchen again Traditional Ghanaian food is not very vegetarian friendly most dishes have meat so it can be challenging finding something veggie on the menu when you re eating out I must say one of my favorite traditional dishes is red red and luckily vegetarian It s fried plantains with beans and veggies when I make it at home which makes it even better Our neighborhood is nice and quiet with lots of rural roads nearby that are prefect for peaceful trail runs I ve even formed a little running group with my roommate and another girl nearby Morning runs are one of my absolute favorite things here The sun is just rising and it s still cool enough to run plus you I get to watch the whole world wake up Usually we just encounter goats and chickens on the roads with the occasional motorbike or women carrying a load on her head passing by Then on the way back on our loop we are greeted by eager smiling children in their uniforms walking and riding bikes to school They re

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  • Communications intern
    buckets of soil along the assembly line I was so touched and impressed by this beautiful display of community The women showed so much strength unity and joy with access to opportunities their potential to change their communities Ghana and the world is endless My time here in Ghana hasn t been without its challenges but getting to work in this area of my passion women s empowerment is really all I need to relight my motivation I m truly inspired every day being surrounded by strong women Whether it s through these incredible moments with the women in the villages or by the strong female leaders on our MEDA team it serves as a constant reminder as to why this work is so important Tags Communications intern Women MEDA Interns 2014 MEDA Projects Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3562 Hits Friday 31 October 2014 Beyond the Rough Bumpy Roads Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern I love being a communications intern because it allows me to learn about all different aspects of the GROW project agriculture gender nutrition monitoring and evaluation and much much more I m always buzzing around partner NGO meetings community visits donor tours staff trainings etc taking tons of pictures and notes to share But I have to say my favorite part of the job is doing field work As part of my responsibilities I have the honor of reporting on the significant changes that are taking part in women farmer s lives due to the GROW project Together with our MEDA team and partner NGOs we identify several women that have become empowered through being part of the GROW project After our field staff preliminarily interviews them I have the great pleasure of doing in depth follow up interviews taking pictures and sharing their stories with people from around the world as well as getting them back to the women and their communities Travel to these rural villages usually requires a start in the early morning hours and what seems like endless driving along rough bumpy and often unpaved roads I can t even tell you how impressed and grateful I am for our drivers they are incredible When we finally make it to the communities I have the privilege of meeting these amazing women Then we find a shady spot under a tree or around their house and with translation assistance of the field staff they share their stories about their soybean fields their families their ambitions and their concerns As is common when you have foreign visitors generally a crowd of curious neighborhood children accumulates within minutes of starting the interview and it has usually tripled in size by the time we finish Then after many thanks and smiles we all pile into the car or walk to the women s soybean fields Here I photograph the women proudly showing their crops and ask a few last questions that come up Then after many more thank you s we pile everyone back in the car and drop them back at home On the ride back I generally find myself reflecting on the women s stories I m always blown away at the strength determination and selflessness of the women I meet Farming is very difficult work but beyond that many of these women lack formal education and to see them decide to switch to growing soybeans so they can for feed and educate their children is inspiring humbling and beyond impressive And that pretty much concludes a typical field visit as you can see there s really nothing typical about them which is why I enjoy them so much Keep an eye out for our newest client stories they ll be coming your way soon Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communications intern Internship Experience Women Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3726 Hits Wednesday 15 October 2014 Morning Runs Red Red and Lovely People Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern These are some of my favorite things I m happy to report that these past couple of weeks I ve finally been settling in After almost a month of searching I finally found an awesome roommate and a safe apartment A little two bedroom off a main road with electricity running water and even has AC pretty fancy I ve been taking full advantage of having a kitchen again Traditional Ghanaian food is not very vegetarian friendly most dishes have meat so it can be challenging finding something veggie on the menu when you re eating out I must say one of my favorite traditional dishes is red red and luckily vegetarian It s fried plantains with beans and veggies when I make it at home which makes it even better Our neighborhood is nice and quiet with lots of rural roads nearby that are prefect for peaceful trail runs I ve even formed a little running group with my roommate and another girl nearby Morning runs are one of my absolute favorite things here The sun is just rising and it s still cool enough to run plus you I get to watch the whole world wake up Usually we just encounter goats and chickens on the roads with the occasional motorbike or women carrying a load on her head passing by Then on the way back on our loop we are greeted by eager smiling children in their uniforms walking and riding bikes to school They re always enthusiastically waving and yelling hello salaminga foreigner on top of their lungs You can t help but smile wave and repeat hello back to them as many times as they say it to us On days that we don t run my roommate and I have started doing yoga together in our living room I was pretty excited when we found yoga mats at the grocery store With large windows that overlook the main road we get some beautiful views in the morning It s been a great way to get centered before diving into a

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  • An Interesting Christmas - MEDA
    being away from my family for Christmas was one of those times for me For some missing Christmas may not be a big deal but in my family it is probably the biggest event of the year There is tons of food music and it really is the only time family from all over the globe can be together This was my first Christmas away from home Thankfully in ways work was hectic so I really did not have much time to think about it and before I knew it Christmas was only days away It was strange for Clara and I we were not only in a tropical climate away from home but Ethiopia does not celebrated Christmas the same time we do They celebrate Orthodox Christmas which is about two weeks later so not much was going on for our Christmas With that being said we still tried to make the best of it We decorated our home with Christmas lights and ornaments and blasted Christmas songs while at home We both managed to get Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off so we had time to relax and watch an abundance of Christmas movies On Christmas day our work invited us for a special Christmas coffee ceremony and even gave us adorable Christmas buddies a reindeer and a snowman I truly appreciated their effort to make our Christmas as special as they could for us especially since it wasn t their own Christmas Even though we were far away from home it helped to be around friends Perhaps the highlight of the day besides saying Merry Christmas to our family back at home was going to the movie theatre to watch the new Hobbit movie Clara and I did a marathon that week and were ecstatic that it was actually showing at the movie theatre here We thought it was a pretty great way to spend Christmas Even though I was not with back at home with my family this Christmas I wouldn t say I was alone MEDA and Clara were my family this year and I am so grateful to have celebrated Christmas with them It is times like these that you really appreciate the relationships you ve created and realize that family can come in different forms I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year s Thank you to everyone who made mine special and unforgettable Tweet Tags Private Sector Development MEDA Interns 2014 Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture Back to the Future Why access to financial services can open doors fo About the author Stephanie Puras Communication and Program Support Intern View author s profile More posts from author Stephanie has an undergraduate degree in Global Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University and is currently completing a postgraduate certificate in International Development from Humber College She was born in Toronto Ontario and has grown up in Oakville Ontario Stephanie has a wide range of interests within international development In 2012 she

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  • MEDA
    has been a rice processor with EDGET for a number of years but in 2013 she decided to parboil rice as well Parboiling is an additional step in processing rice that increases the nutritional value and quality Momina has used EDGET s training on market linkages to sell her rice in local markets and several supermarkets in Addis She has not only put parboiled rice on the market but has also shown the value of women as key players and entrepreneurs in the rice industry Tags Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture Private Sector Development MEDA Interns 2014 MEDA Projects Continue reading Ethiopia 4387 Hits Tuesday 04 November 2014 Almost 2 months down Stephanie Puras Communication and Program Support Intern I cannot believe I have been in Ethiopia for nearly 2 months already It s crazy The past few weeks have been pretty uneventful going out from time to time and working lots EDGET has been in the middle of report season so the office has been in full swing I am also excited to report that this week I will going out to Bahir Dar a city north of Addis to work with MEDA s office there For those of you who are still a little unsure of what it is exactly I do here I thought that this would be good opportunity to give you a little more background on EDGET the project I am working with as I will be going out to the field and meeting some of our clients in a couple of days Ethiopians Driving Growth through Entrepreneurship and Trade EDGET is a 5 year pro poor value chain development project that is funded by DFATD We aim to increase the income of 10 000 rice farmers and textile artisans by giving improved technologies training on better farming techniques business skills and creating access to local markets and business partnerships Currently we have approximately 8 000 client farmers in the Amhara Region and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region SNNPR and 2 000 textile clients in Addis Ababa and SNNPR So what am I going to be doing in Bahir Dar I am going to be visiting our MEDA office there which is situated in the Amhara Region and following up on three of our rice farmer clients in the surrounding villages Basically I will visit each site and interview the clients on how their business as rice farmers has been what are the challenges they have faced and how they have benefited from participating in the EDGET project With the information gathered I will then conduct some briefs to explain the situation for some donors visiting MEDA Ethiopia next week On Friday Clara is going to come meet me in Bahir Dar and we are going to take this chance to explore a bit of Bahir Dar and some touristy sites Lake Tana the origin of the Nile and Blue Nile Falls Then we are hopping on a plane to Lalibela home to one of the world s most astounding sacred sites eleven rock hewn churches I have a busy and slightly stressful week ahead including the dreaded 5am airport visit tomorrow but hopefully it will be worth it Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture Private Sector Development Internship Experience Continue reading Ethiopia 3530 Hits Thursday 16 October 2014 I Am Thankful for Canadian Healthcare Stephanie Puras Communication and Program Support Intern Thanksgiving weekend usually a time I would get together with family and stuff my face with way to much turkey resulting in a comatose state for the next 24 hours However this year s Canadian Thanksgiving was a little different and ended up being two polar extremes as you can probably figure out it concluded in a not so festive fashion It started out great and rather unexpected As many of my fellow Waterlooers and German friends know around this time of year Oktoberfest happens Oktoberfest is basically a German event focused celebrating German food music and culture Being in Waterloo for my undergrad years which has a huge population of Germans allowed me to become quite acquainted with this annual celebration It did not even cross our minds that Oktoberfest would be celebrated here in Addis of all places But low and behold we found out that the Hilton Hotel was organizing an Oktoberfest event on the weekend Who would have thought After running around trying to find last minute tickets we made it I was ecstatic it reminded me of being back in Waterloo again The Hilton set up at tent in the back of the hotel and had different types of vendors a huge Oktoberfest themed buffet sausages pretzels the works and even had a German Polka band We met up with some friends enjoyed the event and even danced with some Austrian diplomats till the early hours Sunday was pretty uneventful but I cannot say the same for Thanksgiving Monday My roommate Clara had been pretty weak and out of sorts for a couple days so when she started having pain and could barely stand up we got worried On Monday I left work early to take her to the hospital with Ferkadu First we went to a Swedish clinic specifically for expats and after several lab tests and hundreds of US dollars later they still could not figure out what was wrong To rule out appendix they sent us to an imaging centre all the way across town to get an ultrasound as they are a very small clinic After a couple hours we found out it was not appendix but they still could not figure out what was wrong so we went back to the clinic for further tests Due to some questionable blood results the doctors sent us to the Korean Hospital for further investigation The Korean Hospital is known to be a relatively reputable hospital that many people go to but it was in the next town over just

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  • Private Sector Development
    Momina has used EDGET s training on market linkages to sell her rice in local markets and several supermarkets in Addis She has not only put parboiled rice on the market but has also shown the value of women as key players and entrepreneurs in the rice industry Tags Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture Private Sector Development MEDA Interns 2014 MEDA Projects Continue reading Ethiopia 4387 Hits Tuesday 04 November 2014 Almost 2 months down Stephanie Puras Communication and Program Support Intern I cannot believe I have been in Ethiopia for nearly 2 months already It s crazy The past few weeks have been pretty uneventful going out from time to time and working lots EDGET has been in the middle of report season so the office has been in full swing I am also excited to report that this week I will going out to Bahir Dar a city north of Addis to work with MEDA s office there For those of you who are still a little unsure of what it is exactly I do here I thought that this would be good opportunity to give you a little more background on EDGET the project I am working with as I will be going out to the field and meeting some of our clients in a couple of days Ethiopians Driving Growth through Entrepreneurship and Trade EDGET is a 5 year pro poor value chain development project that is funded by DFATD We aim to increase the income of 10 000 rice farmers and textile artisans by giving improved technologies training on better farming techniques business skills and creating access to local markets and business partnerships Currently we have approximately 8 000 client farmers in the Amhara Region and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region SNNPR and 2 000 textile clients in Addis Ababa and SNNPR So what am I going to be doing in Bahir Dar I am going to be visiting our MEDA office there which is situated in the Amhara Region and following up on three of our rice farmer clients in the surrounding villages Basically I will visit each site and interview the clients on how their business as rice farmers has been what are the challenges they have faced and how they have benefited from participating in the EDGET project With the information gathered I will then conduct some briefs to explain the situation for some donors visiting MEDA Ethiopia next week On Friday Clara is going to come meet me in Bahir Dar and we are going to take this chance to explore a bit of Bahir Dar and some touristy sites Lake Tana the origin of the Nile and Blue Nile Falls Then we are hopping on a plane to Lalibela home to one of the world s most astounding sacred sites eleven rock hewn churches I have a busy and slightly stressful week ahead including the dreaded 5am airport visit tomorrow but hopefully it will be worth it Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture Private Sector Development Internship Experience Continue reading Ethiopia 3530 Hits Thursday 16 October 2014 I Am Thankful for Canadian Healthcare Stephanie Puras Communication and Program Support Intern Thanksgiving weekend usually a time I would get together with family and stuff my face with way to much turkey resulting in a comatose state for the next 24 hours However this year s Canadian Thanksgiving was a little different and ended up being two polar extremes as you can probably figure out it concluded in a not so festive fashion It started out great and rather unexpected As many of my fellow Waterlooers and German friends know around this time of year Oktoberfest happens Oktoberfest is basically a German event focused celebrating German food music and culture Being in Waterloo for my undergrad years which has a huge population of Germans allowed me to become quite acquainted with this annual celebration It did not even cross our minds that Oktoberfest would be celebrated here in Addis of all places But low and behold we found out that the Hilton Hotel was organizing an Oktoberfest event on the weekend Who would have thought After running around trying to find last minute tickets we made it I was ecstatic it reminded me of being back in Waterloo again The Hilton set up at tent in the back of the hotel and had different types of vendors a huge Oktoberfest themed buffet sausages pretzels the works and even had a German Polka band We met up with some friends enjoyed the event and even danced with some Austrian diplomats till the early hours Sunday was pretty uneventful but I cannot say the same for Thanksgiving Monday My roommate Clara had been pretty weak and out of sorts for a couple days so when she started having pain and could barely stand up we got worried On Monday I left work early to take her to the hospital with Ferkadu First we went to a Swedish clinic specifically for expats and after several lab tests and hundreds of US dollars later they still could not figure out what was wrong To rule out appendix they sent us to an imaging centre all the way across town to get an ultrasound as they are a very small clinic After a couple hours we found out it was not appendix but they still could not figure out what was wrong so we went back to the clinic for further tests Due to some questionable blood results the doctors sent us to the Korean Hospital for further investigation The Korean Hospital is known to be a relatively reputable hospital that many people go to but it was in the next town over just outside of Addis Keep in mind we had been on this quest for already 4 hours and poor Clara was barely surviving This is where I want to talk a bit about the underdevelopments of Ethiopia s transportation system There is road construction everywhere and no traffic lights This can easily make a 30 minute commute a couple of hours especially at night After being in bumper to bumper traffic for an hour and a half we get to the hospital The Korean Hospital is a large hospital that was built by the South Koreans around 20 or so years ago Even though it is considered one of the better ones we were not impressed Not only had the doctor we were supposed to see already left for the day but poor Clara had to go through all the lab tests again and then we waited for the results for another 4 or so hours I was terrified that Clara had to do a procedure there I tried to keep in mind that this is a developing country but when I saw ill people waiting around for hours and in less than acceptable sanitary conditions I was terrified Several hours later we got the test results finally It was just a bad infection and they sent Clara home with antibiotics I was thankful that it was nothing serious and Ferkadu drove us home he stayed with for the entire time It was 11 pm by the time we got home making it 8 hours and countless miles just to find a diagnosis I have waited longer for medical assistance in a Canadian hospital but just seeing the conditions of the medical facilities spending hundreds of dollars and driving around Addis for different tests makes me NEVER want to get sick here I never thought I would say this but thank goodness for Canadian healthcare Regardless Clara got the help she needed I know it could have been much much worse Even though this Thanksgiving turned out to be less than ideal I am thankful I am thankful for the amazing friends we met and had a great time with them weekend I am also eternally grateful for all our amazing MEDA colleagues that helped us make sure that Clara got help on Monday Ethiopia has its ups and downs just like any other country healthcare being a major downfall but having a support system definitely softens the blow Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture National Holiday Experience Private Sector Development Continue reading Ethiopia 3463 Hits Friday 10 October 2014 E FACE Site Visit in Addis Ababa Clara Yoon Communication and Program Support Intern I had the pleasant surprise of being able to join our team on today s site visits which included various interventions such as Business Owners BOs and Village Savings and Loan Association VSLA Technical and Vocational Education Training TVET and Building Skills for Life The day started out driving across the city to an area called Shiro Meda where we visited the first intervention of BOs and VSLA The youth representatives seemed to get a kick out of seeing me there I m guessing they weren t expecting me to be there While I didn t understand most of the conversations my colleague Tsedey translated what one of the youth shared she spoke about the valuable lessons and training received in the area of saving Through their weekly savings the youth gain capacity to purchase their own notebooks something I wouldn t even have to think twice about back at home Our second visit was to a TVET site where youth received training at a hair salon school When I entered the building the youth were busy working away at doing people s hair It was interesting to see a fair amount of males receiving this training whereas at most hair schools in Canada the students are mostly female My highlight of the entire day was the last site We drove down a very bumpy road to a government work space where youth participants in the Building Skills for Life program were working with weaving looms Building Skills for Life targets young workers ages 14 17 and provides them with practical education and training so that the youth can be empowered to create opportunities for themselves The program also includes technical training on traditional weaving which is what I was able to see for myself through the visit The youth seemed pretty shy as I went around with my camera but once I started getting a few shots some of the youth seemed to be alright with me taking pictures of their work Some of the pieces were very intricate and it amazes me that they learn and develop these skills in order to make a living for themselves at such a young age I m thankful I had the opportunity to join today s site visits It really brought the past few weeks of what I ve been working on in the office to life It s one thing when you see E FACE numbers reports and documents It was refreshing to see the clients and get a better understanding of how this project is really impacting lives especially those in the textile industry Of course I still have so much to learn and grasp about the project and overall child labor in Ethiopia especially in traditional weaving which makes me even more eager to get out into the field and to the sites In the future I ll be traveling to Arba Minch to see E FACE s field work and interventions I m really excited to see a different part of Ethiopia and look forward to meeting more clients Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Agriculture Communication and Program Support Intern MEDA Projects Private Sector Development Continue reading Ethiopia 4808 Hits Friday 10 October 2014 One month down five more to go Clara Yoon Communication and Program Support Intern It s been already a month since arriving for my 6 month internship with MEDA Ethiopia Times flies by The past month has mainly consisted of adjusting Adjusting to the climate adjusting to daily living habits using bottled water for everything sanitizing produce expecting unexpected power outages and the list goes on and adjusting to a new work environment and culture Overall I am enjoying life in Addis and am looking forward to getting to know the people and city over the next 5 months A few things I ve been able to do over the past month have included City Tour It was great to see more of Addis a few weeks ago We saw different parts of the city mainly from the car but got to see a nice city view from Entoto Mountain and visited Lucy at the National Museum Addis is a pretty big city compared to where I m from Waterloo ON But it s not as overwhelming as somewhere like Seoul South Korea I have yet to ride a blue donkey 16 passenger vans or they call them taxis but am hoping to soon They re way cheaper than cabs but obviously less comfortable I used to ride them all the time when I spent 2 months in Uganda they call them matatoo so I m guessing it s pretty much the same thing here That way I feel like I ll get to know the city more if I get familiar with local transportation Traditional Dancing Jillian from HQ was in Addis for a few weeks so Steph and I had the chance to go to Yod Abyssinia for Ethiopian traditional dancing and food It was a fun night I got pulled up on stage to dance and while dancing isn t my forte I gave it a shot My brother is an amazing dancer he dances competitively so I did it for him He would have been proud The dance moves weren t too difficult but I still probably looked so bad compared to the Ethiopian dancers Meskel It was Meskel a few weeks ago Meskel means cross in Amharic or the holiday is also known as Finding the True Cross Steph and I went to Meskel Square with our colleague Wondwossen There were thousands and thousands of people there It was quite the experience We managed to find a place to stand at the way back and heard several people speak along with many songs Once it was dusk people started lighting these little wicks It was really amazing how the place just lit up so fast And after much anticipation the huge tower of wood and grass was lit on fire We waited about 2 hours for it to finally happen Everyone was singing and cheering once it was lit and there were fireworks too Leaving the ceremony was crazy though We were squished in a sea of people and eventually managed to get out For the rest of the night on our way home you could see and hear people celebrating in their neighborhoods Life in Addis is really starting to grow on me Since I don t have that much time here I want to do more exploring Already we ve been to Bole a few times checked out Piazza for shopping and the Stadium for great leather In the midst of poverty begging being very in your face there are things that make me laugh and remind me of why I m here Whether it s the smiles and laughs of little kids when I wave or when people are pleased to hear I m Korean Ethiopia and Korea are friends I just learned recently that Ethiopia sent troops to South Korea s aid during the Korean War or getting to know my colleagues at the office these are all things that make it fun and rewarding to be here I definitely feel like the next 5 months are going to fly by so I don t want to waste any time Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture Country Culture Private Sector Development Continue reading Ethiopia 3193 Hits Thursday 25 September 2014 Setting the Tone My first two weeks at MEDA Ethiopia Clara Yoon Communication and Program Support Intern A few words that sum up my first two weeks in the MEDA Ethiopia office are challenging timely and demanding I arrived last week at an extremely busy time for the E FACE Ethiopians Fighting Against Child Exploitation team It s reporting season so the entire team has been consumed with working on various reports for our donor the government MEDA HQ and so on I ve seen a glimpse of how MEDA as a non governmental organization operates with a corporate mindset Details matter activities and results matter and there is definitely no room for slacking I see this internship as a great opportunity to learn from experts in the field of international and business development move away from the theory side of things of course theory is still important and witness how practical training and business skills building can dramatically change people s lives While reading through various client success stories I noticed there was a general theme of the long term benefits clients received through good financial habits such as saving or joining a Village Savings and Loans Association VSLA The idea of a VSLA is to reach the very poor typically in remote areas who are unable to or unwilling to receive loans from formal financial institutions such as microfinance Institutions MFIs Thus VSLAs operate as community based saving and credit groups composed of about 10 20 members Each member makes a contribution to a loan fund helping the fund to grow by borrowing from it and paying back the loans with a service charge Based on the E FACE success stories collected so far it helped me realize these kinds of financial decisions can open doors for clients that prior to being part of a VSLA were unimaginable These open doors can range from opening up a shop to sell various goods and products to buy a goat or chicken or to see an increase in income so that

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  • Communication and Program Support Intern
    with EDGET for a number of years but in 2013 she decided to parboil rice as well Parboiling is an additional step in processing rice that increases the nutritional value and quality Momina has used EDGET s training on market linkages to sell her rice in local markets and several supermarkets in Addis She has not only put parboiled rice on the market but has also shown the value of women as key players and entrepreneurs in the rice industry Tags Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture Private Sector Development MEDA Interns 2014 MEDA Projects Continue reading Ethiopia 4387 Hits Wednesday 19 November 2014 Exploring the North Bahir Dar and Lalibela Clara Yoon Communication and Program Support Intern Two weeks ago I went on a weekend trip to Bahir Dar and Lalibela located in northern Ethiopia Since I went to the south for work about a month ago I was excited to see different parts of the country again While I do like Addis it does get tiring with lots of people traffic and pollution It was refreshing to be in more remote parts of the country especially with beautiful landscapes and sunsets that you just don t get in the city I met up with Steph in Bahir Dar first since she was there for work We had dinner along Lake Tana that was lit up by the moonlight The following day we went to see the Blue Nile Falls Saturdays are market days so as we drove one hour to the falls there were lots of people walking with their cattle or goats We met up with our tour guide who led us on a 1 5 hour hike Many times we were face to face with cows walking on the path on their way to the market We saw the Portuguese Bridge and the Blue Nile Falls and then walked back to finish our tour There were many kids selling scarves and hand made crafts along our hike telling us Madam I ll give you a good price I eventually caved and bought one even though I ve already accumulated so many in Addis We relaxed for a few hours and then went for dinner along the lake and watched the sunset In Bahir Dar we took these 3 wheeled scooter type taxis called Bajaj s or Touk touk s they were super cheap and really easy to use After dinner we checked out Kuriftu for dessert along with good talks under a full moon The next part of our trip was to Lalibela a town renowned for its rock hewn churches that were built in the 12th century The story goes that King Lalibela sought to create a New Jerusalem for those who could not make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land The churches were not constructed in a traditional method rather they were excavated and carved from the living rock of monolithic blocks The churches are still used to this day by Orthodox Christians And now that it is a UNESCO heritage site tourism has really taken off over the past few years The landscape in Lalibela reminded me of the Grand Canyon although I ve never been It s very desert like with canyons and plateaus all around After resting up we went to see the churches It was really amazing to see the churches inside and out My favourite was St George the church shaped in a cross We had a really good guide who showed us all 11 churches within 3 5 hours It was an exhausting tour as we walked through passages trenches and in and out of most of the churches While it was overall a really good trip I m glad to be back in Addis After a few days of traveling all you want is the familiarity of your own home and the variety of food options that are available in the city With about four months left of this internship I m hoping to squeeze in a few more trips to see more of Ethiopia It really is a beautiful country I had a few moments throughout this past trip that reminded me that I am very blessed to be here with MEDA and working on a great project that is changing lives Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture Economic Opportunities Sightseeing Continue reading Ethiopia 3463 Hits Tuesday 04 November 2014 Almost 2 months down Stephanie Puras Communication and Program Support Intern I cannot believe I have been in Ethiopia for nearly 2 months already It s crazy The past few weeks have been pretty uneventful going out from time to time and working lots EDGET has been in the middle of report season so the office has been in full swing I am also excited to report that this week I will going out to Bahir Dar a city north of Addis to work with MEDA s office there For those of you who are still a little unsure of what it is exactly I do here I thought that this would be good opportunity to give you a little more background on EDGET the project I am working with as I will be going out to the field and meeting some of our clients in a couple of days Ethiopians Driving Growth through Entrepreneurship and Trade EDGET is a 5 year pro poor value chain development project that is funded by DFATD We aim to increase the income of 10 000 rice farmers and textile artisans by giving improved technologies training on better farming techniques business skills and creating access to local markets and business partnerships Currently we have approximately 8 000 client farmers in the Amhara Region and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region SNNPR and 2 000 textile clients in Addis Ababa and SNNPR So what am I going to be doing in Bahir Dar I am going to be visiting our MEDA office there which is situated in the Amhara Region and following up on three of our rice farmer clients in the surrounding villages Basically I will visit each site and interview the clients on how their business as rice farmers has been what are the challenges they have faced and how they have benefited from participating in the EDGET project With the information gathered I will then conduct some briefs to explain the situation for some donors visiting MEDA Ethiopia next week On Friday Clara is going to come meet me in Bahir Dar and we are going to take this chance to explore a bit of Bahir Dar and some touristy sites Lake Tana the origin of the Nile and Blue Nile Falls Then we are hopping on a plane to Lalibela home to one of the world s most astounding sacred sites eleven rock hewn churches I have a busy and slightly stressful week ahead including the dreaded 5am airport visit tomorrow but hopefully it will be worth it Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture Private Sector Development Internship Experience Continue reading Ethiopia 3530 Hits Thursday 30 October 2014 Arba Minch A humbling visit with VSLA groups in Chano Dorga Clara Yoon Communication and Program Support Intern I recently traveled to Arba Minch for my first field visit in southern Ethiopia The main purpose of the trip was to visit clients and collect information to write up briefs for an donor tour that s taking place here in a few weeks Spending a few days out of the city was refreshing I especially appreciated meeting various clients hearing from them personally how they have been positively impacted by the project I also gained a new appreciation for our field staff in Arba Minch who are vital to the project They hosted me very well in the midst of their busy schedules The highlight of the trip was our first site visit We went to a village called Chano Dorga to meet with 2 Village Savings and Loans Association VSLA groups I m thankful to have been there for the first 1 5 days with Doris our country manager She has a wealth of knowledge and experience in micro finance and international development Doris asked the questions and then the clients responses were translated I wrote down everything as fast as I could The members of both VSLA groups were eager to speak and share their successes with us They were also very thankful to the project as I often heard ameseginalehu which means thank you While Ethiopians living in rural parts of the country have awareness of traditional saving methods it s still difficult to save Generally saving habits are poor due to low levels of income or lack of financial literacy However through the project clients training and education on financial literacy how to save budget and access credit Through this training they can take steps to start improving their household income When target households experience livelihood improvements their vulnerability to resorting to child labor decreases This is huge When I first read about E FACE I didn t quite understand the connection of why our project was working in the South Yet I learned that traditional weaving is originally from the South and there is a growing demand for hand woven textile products This is why child labor and child trafficking are such big issues in Ethiopia The diligence of these savings groups really amazed me They initially started out saving 5 ETB 25 cents USD a week and now they save 10 ETB 50 cents USD Some members even save two fold in which they receive more in dividends It was humbling to sit with them in their village and hear their stories Saving a small amount of money each week has opened up opportunities that they otherwise would not have had This is why the successes and life changes of our E FACE clients are very inspiring They save each week for the sake of their families and communities They also took the knowledge and skills offered through the project and put them into practice to bring positive change to their families and communities I don t think the issue of financial illiteracy is isolated to developing countries In North America debt is a really big problem It may be a different strand of financial issues but perhaps reveals learning about finance and money is needed back at home as well I personally would like to learn more about personal finances how to budget and how to save These are skills and habits that require training awareness and self discipline It s really exciting to hear about our clients future plans and aspirations as they have set goals to save more and expand their business endeavours I hope to have another opportunity to visit the field meet more clients and capture more of their success stories to demonstrate the amazing work being done through E FACE Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Economic Opportunities Youth MEDA Projects Communication and Program Support Intern Continue reading Ethiopia 4012 Hits Thursday 16 October 2014 I Am Thankful for Canadian Healthcare Stephanie Puras Communication and Program Support Intern Thanksgiving weekend usually a time I would get together with family and stuff my face with way to much turkey resulting in a comatose state for the next 24 hours However this year s Canadian Thanksgiving was a little different and ended up being two polar extremes as you can probably figure out it concluded in a not so festive fashion It started out great and rather unexpected As many of my fellow Waterlooers and German friends know around this time of year Oktoberfest happens Oktoberfest is basically a German event focused celebrating German food music and culture Being in Waterloo for my undergrad years which has a huge population of Germans allowed me to become quite acquainted with this annual celebration It did not even cross our minds that Oktoberfest would be celebrated here in Addis of all places But low and behold we found out that the Hilton Hotel was organizing an Oktoberfest event on the weekend Who would have thought After running around trying to find last minute tickets we made it I was ecstatic it reminded me of being back in Waterloo again The Hilton set up at tent in the back of the hotel and had different types of vendors a huge Oktoberfest themed buffet sausages pretzels the works and even had a German Polka band We met up with some friends enjoyed the event and even danced with some Austrian diplomats till the early hours Sunday was pretty uneventful but I cannot say the same for Thanksgiving Monday My roommate Clara had been pretty weak and out of sorts for a couple days so when she started having pain and could barely stand up we got worried On Monday I left work early to take her to the hospital with Ferkadu First we went to a Swedish clinic specifically for expats and after several lab tests and hundreds of US dollars later they still could not figure out what was wrong To rule out appendix they sent us to an imaging centre all the way across town to get an ultrasound as they are a very small clinic After a couple hours we found out it was not appendix but they still could not figure out what was wrong so we went back to the clinic for further tests Due to some questionable blood results the doctors sent us to the Korean Hospital for further investigation The Korean Hospital is known to be a relatively reputable hospital that many people go to but it was in the next town over just outside of Addis Keep in mind we had been on this quest for already 4 hours and poor Clara was barely surviving This is where I want to talk a bit about the underdevelopments of Ethiopia s transportation system There is road construction everywhere and no traffic lights This can easily make a 30 minute commute a couple of hours especially at night After being in bumper to bumper traffic for an hour and a half we get to the hospital The Korean Hospital is a large hospital that was built by the South Koreans around 20 or so years ago Even though it is considered one of the better ones we were not impressed Not only had the doctor we were supposed to see already left for the day but poor Clara had to go through all the lab tests again and then we waited for the results for another 4 or so hours I was terrified that Clara had to do a procedure there I tried to keep in mind that this is a developing country but when I saw ill people waiting around for hours and in less than acceptable sanitary conditions I was terrified Several hours later we got the test results finally It was just a bad infection and they sent Clara home with antibiotics I was thankful that it was nothing serious and Ferkadu drove us home he stayed with for the entire time It was 11 pm by the time we got home making it 8 hours and countless miles just to find a diagnosis I have waited longer for medical assistance in a Canadian hospital but just seeing the conditions of the medical facilities spending hundreds of dollars and driving around Addis for different tests makes me NEVER want to get sick here I never thought I would say this but thank goodness for Canadian healthcare Regardless Clara got the help she needed I know it could have been much much worse Even though this Thanksgiving turned out to be less than ideal I am thankful I am thankful for the amazing friends we met and had a great time with them weekend I am also eternally grateful for all our amazing MEDA colleagues that helped us make sure that Clara got help on Monday Ethiopia has its ups and downs just like any other country healthcare being a major downfall but having a support system definitely softens the blow Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture National Holiday Experience Private Sector Development Continue reading Ethiopia 3463 Hits Friday 10 October 2014 E FACE Site Visit in Addis Ababa Clara Yoon Communication and Program Support Intern I had the pleasant surprise of being able to join our team on today s site visits which included various interventions such as Business Owners BOs and Village Savings and Loan Association VSLA Technical and Vocational Education Training TVET and Building Skills for Life The day started out driving across the city to an area called Shiro Meda where we visited the first intervention of BOs and VSLA The youth representatives seemed to get a kick out of seeing me there I m guessing they weren t expecting me to be there While I didn t understand most of the conversations my colleague Tsedey translated what one of the youth shared she spoke about the valuable lessons and training received in the area of saving Through their weekly savings the youth gain capacity to purchase their own notebooks something I wouldn t even have to think twice about back at home Our second visit was to a TVET site where youth received training at a hair salon school When I entered the building the youth were busy working away at doing people s hair It was interesting to see a fair amount of males receiving this training whereas at most hair schools in Canada the students are mostly female My highlight of the entire day was the last site We drove down a very bumpy road to a government work space where youth participants in the Building Skills for Life program were working with weaving looms Building Skills for Life targets young workers ages 14 17 and provides them with

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