This week I continued my work with Action Ethiopia and SUNARMA in Ethiopia, travelling to Wof Washa Forest. Here I completed a four day trek and captured the work of SUNARMA in helping farmers by utilising the forest as a source of income, without exploiting it.
As a filmmaker, this has been the hardest project I have had to work on, with no power to recharge my equipment, and all my gear had to be carried on the hardest trek I have ever done.
On day 1 we had a short walk to Gosh Meda community lodge, where we slept at the edge of the valley. This was at an elevation of 3710m, where the air was extremely cold and thin to breathe, making climbing very difficult. Here we interviewed one of the Forest Co-operative Chairmen, who is the leader of a group of people in charge of protecting and guarding the forest.
On day 2 we descended into the valley, descending 1000m into much warmer climate, to see one of the most stunning views of the valley, and the small houses scattered across the hills. On this day we walked over 20 kilometres, taking a big toll on my knees. We stayed in the valley for two days, where we saw the work of the SUNARMA in helping farmers by diversifying their sources of income through providing different crops and activities through which they could earn money. These included bee keeping, producing apple, and creating stoves. During these two days, I picked up food poisoning, which made for the most miserable day 4.
On day 4 I couldn't stomach any food without feeling sick, which was a terrible day to feel sick as we would be climbing back out of the valley. The valley is very isolated with no roads in, the only access being through ascending out, a 5 hour journey, climbing 1000m. I was sweating in the cold, feeling dizzy, carrying a very heavy backpack full of gear, and collapsed about an hour into the journey, and the guides thankfully took the backpack off me. We then had to do one final interview with a beekeeper, which I had to cut short before running off to vomit. Then came the final 4 hour hike out of the valley up a steep, muddy, slippery path on an empty stomach. Easily one of the hardest and worst experiences of my life! Due to my food poisoning, we cut the trek a day short, driving back to Addis Ababa to a much warmer hotel room.
I feel much better now, and this brings me to the end of my time with Action Ethiopia and SUNARMA. I now have my final week staying with the Association for Women's Sanctuary and Development (AWSAD) in Addis Ababa before flying back home to Perth.