Roasting the white coffee beans
Part of the energy Bizunesh puts into her work is to assure the means to have her coffee morning and night. Coffee at midday happens rarely because of lack of time. Having coffee in Ethiopia is a meaningful moment, done as a ceremony, and it takes time. Bizunesh likes this special tradition and she and her husband accept the lengthy preparation as a moment to relax. Bizunesh lights incense in the house while she roasts the white coffee beans. When ready, she lifts the plate to her nose, lets her children smell it and the round kitchen hut fills with wonderful odors that raises the pleasure when the coffee is finally served.
Well planned! As Belay comes in putting down the bags of ground maize, his wife naturally serves him the first of the three cups of coffee. The Belays have no watch and seem to have little to do with either Ethiopian time or Western time. They have found their own way to manage and survive where many do not.
He would watch her over the fence
It was Belay who first spotted Bizunesh. He had gone to her village where he had an uncle. He was hiding there to avoid the military draft where he would have been taken off to war. Bizunesh passed by every day and he would watch her over the fence. “I saw her and I knew she was the one I wanted,” says Belay. One day, as she was going to Seladinguay, he asked her if she could buy soap for him. He did not need soap, it was an excuse to get close to her. It worked, and she fell for him too. Before marrying they both agreed on what they wanted in life.
Bizunesh not only wants her coffee but also that her children be educated. To have this, and enough to eat all year, is a big dream in the Ethiopian mountains. It requires that she and Belay work together as a team. And they have done so from the beginning.
Little Zewdnesh’s cry to “mama” is a reminder of their plans to have four children only. Now with five, they think they have not properly understood the information about family planning. “Breast feeding does not work as a contraceptive,” says Belay and Bizunesh doesn’t trust other means. She says there is so much gossip about how the pill is bad and she is afraid to take any. (14)