ADDIS ABABA - During his visit to Ethiopia, U.S. President Barack Obama took the time Tuesday to meet with Ethiopians who have benefited from U.S. development initiatives.
During a visit to a food factory, Ethiopian farmer Gifty Jemal Hussein beamed as she looked into the face of Obama and told him how he changed her life.
Through a U.S. development project started by Obama, she had access to better seeds, which vastly improved her corn harvest. That success allowed her to send her children to school, buy a cow and build a better house.
While Obama’s visit to this East African regional power has focused on the key issues of security and development, Ethiopia is perhaps best known for famine and poverty and has tried hard to shed that past.
Obama said the project, called Feed the Future, is trying to help Ethiopia do that. The United States has historically been the largest donor to Ethiopia, but Obama said the project’s goal is to work more intelligently, not just to pour in more money.
“With just a few smart interventions, a little bit of help, they can make huge improvements in their overall yields,” Obama said.
Obama visited a factory on Addis Ababa’s outskirts that, with help from American companies, manufactures fortified foods such as bread and baby cereals.
Faffa Foods manager Zeco Ebro said his factory represents a new model for Africa that allows the continent to improve its destiny from within.
Because Faffa Foods is a local manufacturer, it creates jobs and adds to the economy while providing a necessary product.
"Our factory’s special mission is producing nutritious food with affordable price to the whole population," Zeco said. "And that is what makes us special of being visited by the president of the United States of America."
For farmers like Gifty, however, these big ideas have very real consequences.
When asked about her reaction to meeting Obama, she grinned and offered a one-word response in Amharic: "amasegenalo," which means "thank you."