April 18, 2016

Classes are finished and now it is time to write reports and hopefully take a tour of some of the other departments here at Alage. This afternoon we toured the Donkey Welfare Training Center which is a joint project with ATVET Alage and The Donkey Sanctuary which is a charity based in the UK. I’ll post pictures when I return home since I can’t download pictures from my phone to the laptop. At the Training Center they train students in proper handling of donkeys and the various pack saddles to use to prevent injuries to the donkey. Just as with our students in plant sciences these students will go back into their communities to be agriculture agents. One of the requirements for completion is to design and make a prototype pack saddle to take with them.
The Center also provides veterinary services for farmers in the area to bring in their donkeys and occasionally cows and goats. A donkey with a colt came in while we were there to be treated for a hyena bite. Dr. Yohannes Mulatu, one of the three veterinarians on staff gave us our tour which ended watching him examining the donkey. He said they treat at least 20 donkeys per week at no charge.
Saturday was the college graduation and we were surprised to be ushered up onto the main stage to be seated with the Deans and Department Heads and Clergy. It was very cool to see the priest from the Orthodox Christian church sitting in the same row as the clergy from the Muslim community. Truly it was one of those ‘pinch myself’ moments. The ceremony lasted about three hours and featured music and native dance and of course speeches. At the luncheon afterwards the Dean of the college apologized for not giving our names (he had been away and didn’t know our names) when he simply introduced us as guests from America.
The luncheon was truly a celebration feast with all sorts of Ethiopian food in a buffet. One of my favorites was kitfo which an Ethiopian delicacy of raw meat marinated in mitmita which is a chili powder made of mixed spices. I said “YOLO” and spooned some on my plate. Very tasty and no bad effects! We have become accustomed to eating with our hands and the luncheon was no different. No forks, spoons or napkins. Being left handed I have had trouble remembering to eat with my right hand which is proper. As we were about finished one of the staff seated at our table brought a roll of toilet paper and tore off a few sheets for each person to wipe their hands. There was plenty of Ethiopian beer flowing and the woman serving it was making sure everyone had more than enough. The day ended with a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony which we were lucky enough to be seated in front the area. It was interesting to watch the lady roast the green coffee beans and then pound it into a powder with a mortar and pestle. Then the powder was spooned into the clay coffee carafe and boiling water poured over it. As I have said before I have quickly grown to love Ethiopian coffee.

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