Reflections on the Trip

Writing this blog has been a wonderful way for me to recount my experiences in Ethiopia and also to reflect on what I have learned and gained from the experience.  The biggest thing I have taken away is the difference in sense of community between the people of these tribes.  Without our virtual connected world, the tribes connect person to person and I sense this is a source of happiness and satisfaction for them.  They lead a simple life and seem satisfied with it.  I see an opportunity for myself here.

Many of the tribal cultures I experienced are good and many are what I would assess as bad and in some cases horrific, for example the curse of the Mingi children.  While I see the need for some of these to change, I realize change needs to occur within the tribe on their terms.  Most of these practices are deeply woven into the culture of how these people live and how they belong to their tribe.  Belonging is critical because without it, it will be hard to survive.  Individuals driving change risk being rejected with its consequences and so I see change occurring gradually.  The path Omo Child is taking by educating a new generation appears to be a very promising way to drive change from the inside.

Many blog readers have commented about some of the disfigurement practiced, for example scaring the skin, extending the lips and the like.  While I don’t find this attractive, I do see parallels to the western oriented culture of body piercing, which I also don’t find attractive.  Should we say you need to stop?  I don’t think it is for me to dictate and it is a personal choice, albeit one driven by culture and the need to belong.  While I don’t support practices like lip plates, I also can’t denounce them and say they must stop immediately, I have learned it is not as simple as that.

Aside from my observations above, I need to finish by thanking some significant people who made this trip possible.  Firstly, to Sue my lovely wife for her support to go on this trip and for managing everything while I was away.

My traveling partners were fabulous and I need to give a special call out to Piper for her excellent preparation and the way she led our trip with just the right amount of flexibility and guidance.  I have grown as a photographer because of her coaching and support.

As I close this chapter on Ethiopia, I am looking forward to what is next and also how to use this portfolio to help the tribes develop.  I have some ideas in my head and I appreciate any suggestions you may have had.  I will be posting my favorite pictures in an online gallery as a start.

A big thank you to everyone who commented on the blog and I hope you have all enjoyed it!

I suspect you will see some posts in the next week or so about my adventures in Puebla, Mexico where I am right now.  Stay tuned!

One thought

  1. Great experience Andy and you are right – you cant change cultures overnight as this leads to unrest and also as you point out banishment from tribes. Sometimes the western world needs to allow things to happen at the pace they are meant to and not interfer which is so hard when you see some of the terrible things which happen. Look forward to your next adventures

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