Our May volunteer of the month is apiculture expert Ed Levi, who has volunteered with Winrock’s Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program since 1995. Twenty years and 10 countries later, Ed continues to show his dedication to helping those in need around the world.
Over the years, Ed has introduced improved beekeeping technologies and techniques to farmers in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Ethiopia, and Guinea; provided training on honey processing and marketing in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan; and demonstrated ways to produce new products from hive by-products in Nigeria, in addition to numerous other volunteer assignments.
Ed is sure that he gains just as much from each assignment as his beneficiaries do. “It has been fun learning how to adapt to different challenges. Even though I am going over there to teach, I always learn,” he asserts.
On his latest volunteer assignment in Senegal, Ed conducted training of trainers on all aspects of beekeeping, to help the International Center for Practical Training improve their support to beekeepers. Ed describes this volunteer trip as being particularly memorable, in part because he was able to lodge at a remote school/compound, where he witnessed a strong sense of community and commitment to collective action. “It was really, really special; it was a neat place,” he explains. “There were hugs and tears when I left.”
Ed is humble about his contributions, noting, “When I started beekeeping I never thought it would lead to one of my passions, travelling. I feel so very privileged to do what I do, meet the people that I meet, and hopefully make a difference. As a volunteer with Farmer-to-Farmer, the most important thing for me is to hear that my hosts have made progress.”
He has, indeed, made a difference. In Nepal, for example, individuals that attended Ed’s training more than a decade ago still speak fondly of their training. One beekeeper recently noted,
“The training opened my eyes to beekeeping as a business, and as a result, I increased my business from two to 60 hives. Everything I have gained in my honeybee business is due to the contributions of Ed Levi!“
Another former trainee asserts, “Now we are producing antibiotic free honey, and all the credit goes to volunteer Ed Levi’s training!”
In his 20 years of volunteer service with Winrock and Farmer-to-Farmer, Ed has directly assisted over 1,400 individuals. Not many people can say they have done that!
[Thank you, Ed, for all that you have done for your Farmer-to-Farmer hosts and beneficiaries!]