Tuesday, September 29, 2009


The Mercato is the largest open-air market in Africa. It is located on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. My guide Dawit wasn’t joking when he told me that everything is for sale at this complicated and tortuous market place called the Mercato. Dawit and I walked the never ending maze of streets and alleyways crowded with throngs of people and animals.

It was the rainy season and there was mud and water puddle everywhere. The smell in the air ranged from the aroma of spices from the hundreds of spice sellers to the stench of rotten vegetables and human excrement.

Mesob for bread, cakes or pastries

There are stalls and kiosks selling beautiful jabena coffee pots, hand woven colored baskets called mesobs, leather goods, luggage’s, saddles, car parts, silver and gold, electronics, live chickens hanging by their legs and I even saw men walking around selling kitchen utensils and household items strapped to their bodies. 

The women wore beautiful cotton hand woven dresses embroidered with crucifixes in many different colors.

 The Mercato is the meat market; the spice market; the fruit market; the taj market (honey wine); and even a whole street devoted to selling khat. It is said that over half the money in Ethiopia changes hand here. From Nomads cattle herding, Borena people, Gurage traders, Amhara farmers, businessmen in smart suits from the Northern boom towns flashing the latest cell phones, to the traditional weavers of the Dorze people. On any given day you can find people from all over Ethiopia haggling in 80 different languages.

Ethiopia is struggling economically with more than its fair share of water and electricity shortages and health care problems. But what it lacks in development, it more than makes up for with a wealth of cultural, archaeological and natural riches. In fact, Ethiopia is the envy of every country in Africa. Ethiopia and its treasures are timeless!

It’s a unique experience to visit a country and culture largely untouched by people from the west.  



Consortium For Belizean Development, Inc.
A National Non-Profit 501 (C) 3 Organization
Public Relations Committee, P.O. Box 431731, Julian Dixon Station, L.A. CA 90043
(323) 292-4706 
Fax (323) 290-9036
Monday, September 28, 2009

Consortium For Belizean Development Secured Third Shipment of Computers From Belizean Entrepreneur.
(Los Angeles) The Consortium for Belizean Development, Inc. is pleased to inform the public that we have secured a third shipment of donated computers, printers, softwares, and computer accessories to the National Youth Cadet Service Corp, Guinea Grass Pentecostal School, Ebenezer Methodist School and the YWCA. Distribution of the computers is completed. The donated computers and related equipment and programs have an estimated value of approximately US$6,000.
Donated equipment is as follows:

(5) Desktop Computer System w/17’ LCD Monitor
(2) Laptops
(6) Printers
(2) External USB Hard Drives
(1) 17" LCD Monitor
(1) Linksys Wireless Access Point
(1) Quick Books Pro 2009 Accounting Software
Miscellaneous Items and Accessories

This generous donation was made possible by Consortium member Douglas Griffith.
As an entrepreneur and a computer specialist, he continues to give back to Belize.
The Consortium publicly acknowledges and thanks Mr. Douglas Griffith and his family for their generous donation. We also wish to express our profound gratitude to the Ministry of Education for its continued support of the Consortium’s Computer Project. Thank you is extended to Liu’s Freight Services for transporting the shipment from the United States to Belize.

The Consortium for Belizean Development, Inc. is committed to the further development of our nation’s education.

Consortium for Belizean Development, Inc.
Public Relations Committee

Photo by: Dr. Jane Crawford

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Flag monument at the main roundabout in Belize City

It's been festive for the past week, hordes of people were out and about as Belizeans celebrated the 28th anniversary of its independence on September 21, from Great Britain. 

Belize's twenty eight independence anniversary celebration was marked by ceremonies and parades in municipalities and cities across the country. And even though rain played havoc with the festivities in Belize City, in Belmopan, Belizeans came out in numbers, despite a heavy downpour. 

The official ceremonies were held at the steps of the National Assembly building on Independence Hill. In attendance were representatives of various countries with diplomatic presence in Belize, as well as members of the Cabinet and National Assembly.  In his Independence Day message, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said that despite the many challenges that confronts us as a people, Belizeans celebrate the twenty eight anniversary of independence knowing that deep within there lies the power to overcome any obstacle that confronts us as a nation. 

Photo by:Dr. Jane Crawford

Friday, September 18, 2009


HaShanah (ראש השנה) is the Jewish New Year. It falls once a year during the Jewish calendar month of Tishrei and occurs ten days before Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Together, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are known as the Yamim Nora’im, which means the Days of Awe in Hebrew. In America they are often referred to as the High Holy Days.

The Meaning of Rosh HaShanah
Rosh HaShanah literally means “Head of the Year” in Hebrew. It falls in the month of Tishrei, which is the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar. The reason for this is because the Hebrew calendar begins with the month of Nissan (when it's believed the Jews were freed from slavery in Egypt) but the month of Tishrei is believed to be the month in which God created the world. Hence, another way to think about Rosh HaShanah is as the birthday of the world.

Rosh HaShanah is observed on the first two days of Tishrei. Jewish tradition teaches that during the High Holy Days God decides who will live and who will die during the coming year. As a result, during Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur (and in the days leading up to them) Jews embark upon the serious task of examining their lives and repenting for any wrongs they have committed during the previous year. This process of repentance is called teshuvah. Jews are encouraged to make amends with anyone they have wronged and to make plans for improving during the coming year. In this way, Rosh HaShanah is all about making peace in the community and striving to be a better person.
Even though the theme of Rosh HaShanah is life and death, it is a holiday filled with hope for the New Year. Jews believe that God is compassionate and just, and that God will accept their prayers for forgiveness.
Rosh HaShanah Liturgy
The Rosh HaShanah prayer service is one of the longest of the year. Only the Yom Kippur service is longer. Rosh HaShanah service usually runs from early morning until the afternoon and is so unique that it has its own prayer book called the Makhzor. 

Two of the most well known prayers from Rosh HaShanah liturgy are:

Unetaneh Tohkef – This prayer is about life and death. Part of it reads: "On Rosh HaShanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed, how many will leave this world and how many will be born into it, who will live and who will die... But penitence, prayer and good deeds can annul the severity of the decree."

Avienu Malkeinu – Another famous prayer is Avienu Malkeinu, which means “Our Father Our King” in Hebrew. Usually the entire congregation will sing the last verse of this prayer in unison, which says: "Our Father, our King, answer us as though we have no deed to plead our cause, save us with mercy and loving-kindness."

Customs and Symbols
On Rosh HaShanah it is customary to greet people with "L'Shanah Tovah," which is Hebrew that is usually translated as "For a Good Year" or "May you have a good year." Some people also say "L'shana tovah tikatev v'etahetem," which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year." (If said to a woman the greeting would be: "L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'tahetemi"). This greeting refers to the belief that a person’s fate for the coming year is decided during the High Holy Days.

The shofar is an important symbol of Rosh HaShanah. It is an instrument often made of a ram's horn and is blown one hundred times during each of the two days of Rosh HaShanah. The sound of the shofar blast reminds people of the importance of reflection during this important holiday. 

Tashlich is a ceremony that usually takes place during the first day of Rosh HaShanah. "Tashlich" literally means "casting off" and involves symbolically casting off the sins of the previous year by tossing pieces of bread or another food into a body of flowing water.
Other significant symbols of Rosh HaShanah include apples, honey and round loaves of challah. Apple slices dipped in honey represent our hope for a sweet New Year and are traditionally accompanied by a short prayer before eating that goes: "May it by Thy will, O Lord, Our God, to grant us a year that is good and sweet." Challah, which is usually baked into braids, is shaped into round loaves of bread on Rosh HaShanah. The circular shape symbolizes the continuation of life.
On the second night of Rosh HaShanah it is customary to eat a fruit that is new to us for the season, saying the shehechiyanu blessing as we eat it to thank God for bringing us to this season. Pomegranates are a popular choice because Israel is often praised for its pomegranates and because, according to legend, pomegranates contain 613 seeds – one for each of the 613 mitzvot (commandments). Another reason for eating pomegranates on Rosh HaShanah has to do with the symbolic hope that our good deeds in the coming year will be as many as the seeds of the fruit.
Some people choose to send New Year’s greeting cards on Rosh HaShanah. Before the advent of modern computers these were handwritten cards that were snail mailed weeks in advance, but nowadays it is equally as common to send Rosh HaShanah e-cards a few days before the holiday.
2009 -  Rosh HaShanah 
Sunset -September 18, 2009 - nightfall September 20, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Addis Ababa at night

My first night in Addis Ababa was met without electricity. 

Due to the shortage of power, electricity is rationed throughout the country by the Ethiopian Government to save energy. 
In Addis Ababa and other large cities electricity is a huge problem; the power is turned off in a grid like pattern so that different areas of the cities and towns loose power at different hours and on different days. In small towns and villages the power can be turned off to the entire area for a day or two.


Currently in Addis Ababa, the electricity is turned off between 7 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. every day in a grid pattern and is often kept off until as late as 10:00 p.m. The rationing schedule is not made available ahead of time so people can plan; it simply just turns off without warning. This is a huge problem as computers; copying machines and basic light to work with are shut off daily. Because of power shortage, Ethiopians are spending about 100 million birr a month in fuel cost for generators to supplement the monthly power. Generators are expensive, and while some businesses can afford them, the government offices and agencies cannot.

Many companies and restaurants suffer great financial losses due to the frequent loss of power and interruption to their work. Power rationing affects all but the very elite. Even large factories and hotels are not exempt from power rationing. The effects is felt by millions in Addis Ababa, shopkeepers sometimes operate in the dark. Millions cannot keep their food fresh without electricity, especially families trying to run a household.

Electricity in Ethiopia is primarily provided by hydroelectric dams. The government is building new plants to meet the demand. A 44 meter arch dam, the biggest of its kind in Africa, is set to generate 300 MW of power by 2010. The Ethiopian Electric and Power Corporation have started production of 75MW as a test trial. The almost 3 billion birr project is expected to solve the current severe power shortage hammering the economy.

For now, the lights are on and the power is running, but the people of Ethiopia would all agree that the severe electricity shortage has become a constant source of public and government concern.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


(L)Tej "Honey Wine" Ambo "Mineral Water" (R) Tibs "Fried Lamb with sauce on injera" 
Click on all photos to view!!

Ethiopian food is delicious, very spicy and you can eat well just about anywhere in the country. Ethiopia is a fertile country, contrary to many people’s expectations; they have rich soil, but the country is hit by drought and food shortages in some areas from time to time.

Food is very easy to find in Ethiopia, and portions in restaurants are very generous and cheap. For a delicious lunch for two, I paid birr 28, which is just about US$2.50. You can also get many types of dishes there and most of them are unique to Ethiopia. It is a good idea to get to know the names of them as soon as you arrive in the country.
Basket with Injera and Vegetarian "Wat"
The staple food of Ethiopia is "injera"; a large, spongy, sourdough pancake like bread made from "tef" (wish I could describe it in fewer words, but I can't). Tef is a grain that is unique to Ethiopia and comes in varities; white, brown and red. The tef is made into a-flour like substance that is mixed with water and left to ferment in a large container for up to three days. It is then mixed to a watery consistency, poured and cooked on a large griddle for three to five minutes. The result is a spongy, rubbery texture pancake that has a slight sour taste, somewhat like sourdough bread. 
Tef, a grain that is endemic to Ethiopia
Mixing of the tef flour
Fermenting process- First day
After three days of fermenting
Preparing the griddle
Cleaning the griddle before baking
Getting ready to bake the injera
The second griddle
Finished injera bread
The injera is served on a large plate or basket with “wat”, a vegetable or meat stew. The idea is to take a piece of injera in your right hand and use it to scoop up the “wat” into your mouth; no utensils are used. If you are ever invited to dine with Ethiopians in their home, it is their custom for everyone to eat off the same plate.

Injera is a very nutritious food that is high in fiber, containing twenty times more calcium than wheat or barley, three times more iron than other grains and symbiotic yeast, making it the only grain that does not need yeast for preparation.

Vegetarian "Wat" Sauce on Injera
Wat sauce comes in two types; “kai wat”, which is red in color, flavored with beriberi, a very spicy red pepper, garlic and onions boiled in ground meat. The other type is “siga” made from lamb, goat or beef meat. The most popular meal is “doro wat,” a dish of chicken pieces in sauce.

Wednesdays and Fridays are fasting days for the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. This simply means that they do not eat meat on these days. Vegetarian wat is mainly served on these days and can be made from beans, lentils, spinach, gomen (Ethiopian cabbage) and beets; fried or pureed and serve in little piles on the injera.

You can also get fried meat “Tibs”, which is very popular. There is also another dish called “kitfo”, but I did not try it because it is made from raw beef.


For breakfast, the most popular dish is “injera firfir” which is pieces of injera soaked in sauce. Another dish is “inkolala tibs” which is scrambled eggs with onions, green peppers and tomatoes. Also popular for breakfast are fried potatoes with Ethiopian butter.

You can also get varieties of western style food for breakfast at many restaurants in Addis and many large towns. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Eighty million Ethiopians are preparing to usher in the Year 2002 on the 1st of Meskerem (11 September 2009). This date is a reminder that Ethiopia have their own calendar comprising 13 months - a significant achievement bearing evidence that Ethiopia is one of the oldest civilizations.

I would like extend my sincere wishes for a Happy and Prosperous Ethiopian New Year to all Ethiopians.

Thanks to nazaret.com

Consortium For Belizean Development, Inc.

P.O. Box 431731, Julian Dixon Station, L.A. CA 90043 (323) 292-4706 / fax (323) 290-9036

August 25, 2009
Consortium Donates to Georgeville, Crooked Tree and San Pedro
The Consortium For Belizean Development, Inc. inaugurates its adoption of the village of Georgeville with its first donated shipment. Supplies of personal items and Belizean food staples of rice, beans and flour were distributed on Monday August 24, 2009 at the Georgeville Community Center. About 100 people showed up to receive the donated items.

Consortium’s Western Region Vice President, Ms. Verona Burks, and Eastern Region Board Member, Mr. Michael Soberanis joined Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Rene Montero and other volunteers at the center in Georgeville to distribute the donated items. 

Plans for the adoption of Georgeville were initiated in late April, when Hon. Montero, visited Los Angeles and discussed with officers of the organization the possibility of the Consortium adopting the village.
Other donations, which came directly from Consortium’s San Diego Chapter, include school supplies to the Crooked Tree Village School and medical supplies to the Poly Clinic in San Pedro. Adela Pederson, of Consortium’s San Diego Chapter, coordinated San Diego’s donations earlier this summer during her visit to Belize.

The Consortium looks forward to assisting with future donations.
Consortium For Belizean Development, Inc.
Public Relations Committee

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


click on photos to view

In a few days, it will be eight years since September 11, 2001. It was a day that changed our lives as we know it, the greatest terrorist attack in the United States. So far it looks like the anniversary will pass without much fanfare. I thought I would share some pictures of a monument I visited in Ethiopia in memory of the victims of the greatest terrorist attack on American soil.

This monument was dedicated on September 10, 2004 in memory of all those who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. The US Embassy in Ethiopia, in partnership with the Ethiopian Heritage Trust, and in cooperation with the City Government of Addis Ababa and the Government of Ethiopia has planted three thousand (3000) indigenous seedlings to mark the beginning of the Ethiopia-America September 11 Memorial Park.
  Dedicated on September 10, 2004 by Ambassador Aurelia E. Brazeal and Mayor Arkebe Oqubay, in the presence of his excellency President Girma Giorgis

Tuesday, September 8, 2009



Ethiopia is a vast country with over 80 different languages and most of them belonging to the Semitic or Cushitic Family.  The most important Semitic languages in Ethiopia are the Amharigna (Amharic) and Tigrigna of northern and central Ethiopia. Both of these descend from Ge’ez, the language of ancient Axum, which is still used in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church today. The Oromigna speaking Oromo people in the Oromia region are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, (more than 25 million), and they are divided into six main groups. Although the Oromo people are the largest ethnic group, the official language of Ethiopia is  Amharic of the Amhara people. English is also widely spoken by people who have been to high school and many young children in schools today.

Amharic is transcribed in a script that is unique to Ethiopia. It consists of over 200 characters, and each of them denotes a symbol instead of a letter. To me, some Amharic words sound like they were derived from Hebrew or maybe it might be the other way around.

The first difficulty you face when travelling in an unfamiliar country is the language. It can be very difficult to get by without a few basic phrases, but be very careful how you use them because people might respond thinking you are fluent.

I know that I won’t “SPEAKA DA LANGUAGE”, but I can at least try a few words or phrases.

What follows are the few words that I picked up in the two months that I was in the country. I apologized to all the Amharigna speakers out there for the way I will spell these words. I will spell them as they sound to me.

ENGLISH WORD                                                TRANSLITERATION
Hello                                                                          Tena Yestelign
Come in                                                                    Yegebu
How are you?                                                         Tadias
Very good                                                                Betam Teru
Ok                                                                             Ishee
Excuse me                                                              Yeqerta
Thank you                                                              Ame Sege  nalehu
Please                                                                      Ebakish
Friends                                                                    Guwadegna
I will not come for lunchJ                                    Le misa al mata
Beautiful J                                                             Qonjo
Come                                                                        Neh
Shop                                                                          Suq
Water                                                                        Uh ha
Coffee                                                                        Buna
Milk                                                                            Watat
Bread                                                                         Dabow
Tea                                                                             Shay
Goodnight                                                                 Deh nadenu
Good bye                                                                   Deh nawalu