Pondering Hunger from the Terrace of the Sheraton Hotel

I just wrapped up a demanding, rewarding, and poignant 18 days of filming in Guatemala and Ethiopia. As the crew headed home with the footage for our upcoming hour-long documentary on fighting hunger with smart development aid, I found myself immersed in a microcosm of the gap between the rich and poor on our planet. I was sleeping in the same building as Ivanka Trump, in a $300-a-night hotel — having just learned about the reality of people struggling to live on $2 a day. When I paid my bill, I was struck by the fact that each night cost me the equivalent of what those struggling people earn in 150 days. A cocktail in the bar? Another five days of wages…

Ethiopia: An Inspiring Visit Comes to a Close

I just wrapped up 18 days of filming in Guatemala and Ethiopia for an upcoming special called “Ethiopia, Guatemala, Hunger, and Hope,” airing this November on public television across the US. We were mostly in poor communities in poor parts of these poor countries, and everywhere we went, we attracted a crowd. And throughout our trip, the crowds were friendly, curious, and filled with smiles. Even though the children we met were extremely poor, they had a sense of humor and a spirit of joy. In this clip, we were in an Ethiopian village that was out of water, and nearly all the local moms were waiting with their yellow “Jerry cans” for the water truck to pull in. It was awkward at times in Ethiopia to be so rich and so powerful — with our state-of-the-art cameras, air-conditioned van, and driver. But our entire crew went home inspired by the struggles and spirit of the people we met. Thank you, Ethiopia.

Health Post in the Middle of Nowhere?

I just wrapped up a shoot for an upcoming special called “Ethiopia, Guatemala, Hunger, and Hope,” airing this November on public television across the US. In the south of Ethiopia, my crew and I drove to a humble village with no electricity or running water, and a population that is unable to pay for any medical service. We were there to visit a health post run by the local government, in partnership with the United Nations World Food Program.

A child who does not get adequate nutrition in their first thousand days of life will forever be “stunted,” and will never reach their full potential to contribute to society — a tragic loss. But all over the developing world, health posts like this one help young mothers learn the rudiments of hygiene, health, and nutrition.

Some Americans are inclined to dislike the UN. I wish those Americans could witness this inspiring scene in person, as I did. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

Inside Ethiopia’s Growing Economy at the Hawassa Industrial Park

I just wrapped up a shoot in Ethiopia for an upcoming special called “Ethiopia, Guatemala, Hunger, and Hope,” airing on public television across the US this November. My goal is to show Americans the value of smart development and productive trade policies — and a big part of smart development is ensuring that Ethiopians have access to quality jobs, where they’ll make double the income that they would on a farm. To make the point that Ethiopia aspires to become a new source of cheap labor for the world’s more developed countries, we sweet-talked our way into one of 50 massive industrial sheds at the Hawassa Industrial Park, south of Addis Ababa. While this is hard and repetitive labor that earns very little money on a rich-world scale, Ethiopia knows that Japan and China started out as cheap labor markets before economically evolving — and it hopes to do the same.


May You Have Bumpy Travels: Combating Road Bias

Wherever you travel, it’s important to remember that sticking to the main road gives you road bias. Getting off the paved roads in Ethiopia, I was reminded that the majority of the world’s population are poor farmers. In fact, while I might feel like the norm on this planet, the off-the-grid farmer in Ethiopia, far from the nearest paved road, is much closer to the global norm.

I was in Ethiopia with my crew, filming an upcoming special called “Ethiopia, Guatemala, Hunger, and Hope.” It will air this November on public television across the US.