Visiting Kenya and Ethiopia with President Obama: July 2015

This week, I joined President Obama and other members of Congress on an historic trip to Nairobi, Kenya and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In Kenya, we participated in bilateral meetings with the Kenyan government and in the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit. While there, I also had the opportunity to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Fund and meet with African entrepreneurs benefiting from U.S. government-sponsored programs. In Ethiopia, we participated in bilateral meetings with the Ethiopian government and meetings with the leadership of the African Union, and had the chance to visit Ethiopian Airlines’ new B787 simulator made by Boeing.

This trip to Africa was one of many that I’ve taken throughout my life, but joining President Obama on the journey made it one that I’ll never forget.

Below are some photos and thoughts on what we saw and did.

This trip was a great opportunity to spend time with my friend and colleague from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jeff Flake (R-Arizona). Here, we’re with a new friend at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust near Nairobi, Kenya. Many of the elephants at the sanctuary were orphaned due to wildlife poaching and the escalating demand for ivory, an issue that not only impacts elephants, but the health of local ecosystems, regional security, and our own national security. The Trust does incredible work in rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing the elephants into the wild. In the coming weeks, I will be introducing the END Wildlife Trafficking Act, which seeks to address this global crisis.
Met with a grantee of Power Africa who is starting a pay-as-you go solar power service for remote communities in Kenya by running a solar rechargeable motorcycle taxi.
Met with a Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) entrepreneur in Kenya.
A highlight for me was meeting a smallholder farmer named Gifte who showed me how switching from traditional maize to a new DuPont Pioneer hybrid increased her crop yield more than three fold, allowing her to get a new home and pay school fees for her children. This work is part of the USAID Feed the Future partnership with DuPont.
This is during a visit to the Yirgachiffe coffee cooperative, supported by the USAID Feed the Future initiative, which offers higher earnings to thousands of smallholder coffee farmers who are exporting fair trade organic coffee to the United States.
Yirgachiffe coffee
Had the privilege of meeting one of Kenya’s numerous former marathon champions!
President Obama speaking at the State Dinner in Kenya.
After flying on Air Force One, I had a quick photo with the United States’ top diplomat for Africa, Assistant Secretary of African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the State Department.
Our trip to Ethiopia began with a solemn visit to the memorial at the U.S. embassy to late U.S. Representative Mickey Leland and the 14 others who died in a plane crash in 1989 while seeking to visit refugees in Ethiopia. Several members of the delegation remembered Representative Leland with moving personal stories of his life and his work against hunger.
Visiting Boeings’ flight simulator 787 at Ethiopian Airlines training academy.
A picture during the State Dinner in Ethiopia with U.S. Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.) to my left, the most senior member of Congress, several of our other colleagues including Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and the Chairperson of the African Union, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to my right.
President Obama at the Ethiopian State dinner enjoying a traditional coffee ceremony.
Here I am attending President Obama’s historic speech at the African Union Head Quarters in Ethiopia. Proud to sit at the United States delegation table with my colleagues from both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

In his African Union speech in Ethiopia, President Obama was upbeat and direct, inspiring and challenging. He encouraged Africans to take charge of their future and to find common ground on issues that impact us all.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store