So I am not super great at the whole “blogging thing”, but I thought I should give it a try!
My name is Mandy Miller and I am the person behind this humble little business I call Buna. I am now a senior at Texas A&M University and I am studying Non-Profit Management with a Certificate in Entrepreneurship. Buna began my sophomore year and it’s been an incredible adventure ever since!
I am currently in Ethiopia for the fifth time and will be here for the next two months. I got here about two weeks ago but haven’t had the chance to write. I will be posting blogs throughout the summer about my time here and what God is teaching me. Parts of the blog will be specifically about Buna, while other parts will just be about daily life in Ethiopia and the ups and downs that come with it! So I apologize in advance for my randomness and ineptitude when it comes to blog-writing. Let’s do this:
So what am I doing for the next two months?
A big part of my purpose for being here is to work on and grow Buna. I’m so excited to get to spend time with our moms and look for different ways I can bless them. We just hired another mom last week as a Buna Roaster, named Tamerley Zeru. She is 19 years old and has a 20 month year old baby boy, named Biniam. I will be adding her story to the Buna site soon! This summer I hope to provide you with a behind-the-scenes look at Buna and our roasters. So stay tuned for more updates!
I am also serving as an intern for the Adera Foundation while I’m here. Adera is the non-profit in Addis that Buna partners with. My primary role as an intern is working with Adera’s IGAs (Income Generating Activities). More specifically, I will be focusing on a bakery Adera funded that is currently not doing too well (to say the least).
About three years ago, Adera generously gave funds to a group of parents to start two bakeries and one mill. The purpose of this was to provide these individuals with the opportunity to start their own business and provide for their families. However, since then, the 60 individuals who were to be working in the bakeries and mill have now dwindled down to 25. While the mill seems to be doing fairly well for itself, the bakeries are struggling to stay afloat. If nothing changes, they will go bankrupt within the next two months. While all of that seems like a bunch of doom and gloom, we have hope! My job this summer is working to identify where the problems lie for one of the bakeries and to hopefully implement different solutions to help the business succeed.
This opportunity is literally every business major’s DREAM. To have a project that is as hands-on and holistic as this one, where I can (hopefully) implement things that I have been learning in school in a real-world setting. That being said, it is exactly this type of project that also reveals how utterly under qualified I am as a 21 year old college student from Texas. My textbook solutions to problems formulated by a professor in a lecture hall won’t work here. These are real people living in situations that I couldn’t even comprehend. My western solutions most likely won’t fit their third-world needs for their business. I want to come alongside these women and hear from their perspective what the needs are and see what their solutions might be.
Let’s say I was able to do ALL of that: Find the problems. Fix the problems. Help them have a successful bakery. Make them lots of profit. Keep the bakery from going under. Yada, yada, yada…What would that actually mean if I never addressed the problem of spiritual poverty. See, the Lord revealed something in me this past year. I have a tendency, when looking at someone in poverty, to focus on all their tangible needs. I think to myself, If I could only provide them with a job, then they could make money, then they could provide for their family, and then they would become self-sufficient! But God has graciously shown me how that should not be my primary focus because that is not our primary need. If we have all the money in the world and we don’t have Him, then we have nothing. This idea is something I know is true in my heart, but I have a really hard time convincing my head of the same principle. Even as I write this, I am asking God to make me believe it. Yes, I want to help people out of their poverty, but if that is my end goal then I am cutting them short.
This life is short, eternity lasts forever.
Jesus, help me believe that You are our first need. Poverty is a result of sin. The world is broken and therefore there is hurt and scarcity. You are the only hope out of that poverty. Make You my first priority, Jesus. Let my heart and head both believe that you are the solution to all of our needs.