Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wine, a luxury item in Ethiopia

The night watchman watching the sunset in front of the Awash Winery vineyard near Ziway, Ethiopia. In one month he earns less than Americans pay for a single bottle of wine.

When I'm in the most remote corners of Africa on another photographic project I've been working for the past 9 years, often I reflect on our American lifestyle. I do these comparisons. The tribes I stay with have no running water (except for the river or perhaps a well several miles away). They have no electricity. Most have no doctors that are even close. The average life expectancy among some is 48 years. If I were part of their tribe, I would already be dead for 12 years.

Then I'm back in the United States doing all of this vineyard/winery work where a single good bottle of wine might cost $35, even $200. Often I think about what $35 could do for an Omo tribe in Ethiopia. We sponsor a child in Zambia for $35/month. That's the cost of a single bottle of wine that will last one evening. It's a separate reality. Even after all of these years, I'm still not sure how to deal with those separate realities.

But then even Ethiopia has a winery.


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