Sunday, October 30, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Since Wednesday, Daniel, Ijigu and myself have spent our time gradually asserting ourselves as new members of the community. Tattoo-clad, white, and twice the size of most, Daniel and I are finding our way a little more gradually than Ijigu. But we will be just fine.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
For the first time in two years, I ventured into one of Bole’s (one of Ethiopia’s wealthiest neighborhoods) supermarkets. Crowded with chin high shelves stocked with Heinz, Nestle and Proctor and Gamble products, I was taken aback by the assortment of materials available. Yet somehow powdered drink mixes (pretty crucial when your drinking only water and home brew for months on end) were unavailable, though there were 8 different garlic presses to choose from. We made the most of it, and found a majority of the bulk staple items we were in search of. Though a store clearly for the wealthy, the incandescent lighting, stark all-white décor, and array of foreign products, gave a feeling of being back in a freshly stocked Family Dollar. It was an odd experience in Ethiopia.
Monday, October 10, 2011
These are a few photos from Ijigu and I's first trips to Kololo. We had a chance to meet a number of the soon to be students, as well as agree on land for the build. As you can probably tell, these photos were taken at the end of the dry season. You will be surprised to see the same plot of land next week. It will not only richer, but the community has been volunteering there time to begin leveling the the land for construction. I am very eager to see their progress, and start getting dirty.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
During my last trip to Kololo, the community determined to donate a family home to Tesfa for the duration of the build. It was a very humbling experience. Many offered their residence, but because of the proximity to the construction site, and a waterfall (our ivory springs like shower) the community determined that this home was the best fit.
Regrettably during my last visit, I did not have a camera equipped a flash. I’ll be sure to share photos of the living quarters in a couple weeks. Other than the remarkable view, the house has high ceilings, a large living space with a built in bench, two bedrooms, a storage space, and is located only a short walk to the communities out of order potable water source. The house is a gojo bet or mud country house, and beautiful one. The home is a great example of the type of construction we will be using to build the Kololo school. -I’ll touch on this in a later post.
The family who graciously donated the home, will be living with extended family just a short walk from Tesfa’s rental. The family and the rest of the community will always be welcome to stop by and chat, and I am sure they will, especially the kids. Considering that there is usually 30 children following me wherever I go in the community, I imagine we will have an array of constant company. Might be a little much at times, but in all, it should be rather awesome.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
As I first bumped along Ethiopians southwestern roads, I watched out a rattling window as cattle grazed plains gradually transformed into an undulating landscape. A Fern Gully like place, thick with forest and groves. Weathered suspensions and over confidant drivers made for an unsettling journey, but my focus was transfixed on the regions sheer beauty. Kambata, Ethiopia is a 6.5 hour (16-24 via public transport) winding drive southwest of Addis Ababa. The region is on the cusp of Ethiopia’s central plateau. Kambata displays much of southern Ethiopia’s rich flora, and central Ethiopia’s towering topography. With the assistance of a variety of partners, the Tesfa Foundation has been preparing to build a school and library within Kololo, Kambata since partnering with adoptive parents in early 2011. Thanks to well executed fundraising on the part of Kambata adoptive parents, On The Ground, Ethiopia Reads, Mudula Water,and a wealth of individual donors, cumulatively we have raised enough money to build a school and library.
Over the last 5 months, I have visited with the village and local government officials numerous times. During which, Ijigu (a Tesfa Foundation senior manager) and myself worked to forge relationships with officials, community leaders and elders. Without a strong coalition of support, even small development projects within a reticent population can be difficult. The importance of making a genuine partnership was increased by a failed previous development project within Kololo. In which a large religious group invested thousands of dollars worth of materials into a variety of water projects, that in the months following failed, and have since gone unrepaired. The process of earning Kololo’s trust was challenging, but after spending the greater part of three days with community members, discussing previous Tesfa projects, and development philosophy, we were honored with a cooperative agreement from a the committee of village leaders.
In nearly two weeks, I will be moving into Kololo, Ethiopia. The community’s roughly 700 cob constructed homes are sprinkled throughout five square kilometers that make up an awe-inspiring landscape. The village is spread across a flourishing valley. Hundreds of compact farm plots are perched on rolling hills amongst two waterfalls and land teeming with wild growth. These homes rest seamlessly, and with a sense of grace. Each is woven into its environment, and is positioned to allow for privacy while remaining an air of openness to the rest of the community. A blend of palms, coffee, banana, mango, and papaya trees envelope most residences, leaving only glimpses of the earthen structures until just meters away. Yet when the flora veil is lifted, passerby’s are welcomed with kind eyes and cheerful smiles. I feel comfortable, and reassured, as if I have walked these village paths numerous times before.
I’ll wait to share more. I got to move in first....