Back in early November Ejigu and I bused ourselves down to Kembata-Tembaro to begin work on Ethiopia Reads' two scheduled school/library builds. Both were to be completed by early May, along side a variety of ancillary Ethiopia Reads' programming in the region. Daunting on paper, but to some, seemingly impossible in the flesh; we were taking on allot, though we were as prepared as two could be. Not to mention very excited.
Ejigu and I have done it all before...
"Normal" country living: raw meat and moonshine, fleas, hyenas, pesky monkeys, flies in amounts most cannot fathom, poisonous snakes and spiders, limited communication, late night bathroom runs with a machete and TP in hand, gallons of butter salt coffee, diets of 70 percent avocados and peanut butter... it goes on.
The disheartening: encounters with would be thieves, crooked officials, long obnoxious waits in country bus-yards, the fernegie price hikes, run ins with the some of the harshest bacteria, and the loss of members of the community
And the incredibly rewarding: inspiring meetings with community leaders and village elders, building a tighter community while building a structure with the potential to change the lives of all those in the region, working and living alongside Ethiopia Reads beneficiaries, sharing knowledge with shemegalees, creating friendships that will last a life time, training an entire workforce in skills that will enable them to better provide for themselves and family, bolstering the confidence of young and elder woman alike, creating cultures of independence where dependency once ruled, laughter and shared smiles with the people of all ages and backgrounds, and becoming completely accepted, and even revered by a once foreign community.
We are well weathered, a bit hardened, but most importantly we are becoming well versed in what it takes to function and work effectively where most would not bother to visit. We also are perceptually being educated on the unique and complex beauty of SW rural Ethiopia.
There is no template for the work we do. Rough guidelines offer the critical broad strokes, while our everyday action's provide the finer touches that ensure proper project implementation. We built one school in each of the last two years. The process of doing so, provided the experience and wisdom to take on this years intimidating workload. By no means did it come easy, we made our share of missteps yet great progress in our leadership, financial management and construction tactics were made. All of which have been and will continue to be paid forward. I am very proud to write that Ejigu, Sallamnesh, Temsgin and I were able to guide the community through building the most beautiful structure yet. All while doing so in just over 4 months and simultaneously preparing for and building another school of equal quality in Fundame.
Thursday April 11th was a day devoted to celebrating Azedebo's completion of the one of KT's only KG's and a much needed library. Village elders, community leaders, teachers, administrators, local government officials, and much of our workforce were invited to the days greatly anticipated program. The community was elated to show off their hard work, and joyously celebrated a new beginning to Azedebo's education culture. People came from as far as two hours a way to enjoy the festivities, and all that were in attendance were gleeming the awe and appreciation of the communities work.
The Azedebo 1-8 school director co MC'd the program along side Ejigu, while a worader official, an ER rep from the Addis office, and I each spoke to the significance of the communities work and the gravity of the occasion. As with everyone of ER's completion parties it was marked with shared stories from the community as well as a delicious and plentiful feast. Each guest left with a smile, a full stomach and inspired by their family and neighbors.
A big thank you goes out to Jon and Liz Moss for their unwavering support of the Azedebo school and library. Your gift has already begun to positively change the lives of hundreds in Azedebo, and that number will grow exponentially in the years to come. Much love from the Azedebo community to your own.
The following photos are organized so the reader can get a sense of what it would be like to have been there.
*credit to Kahlyn for helping out with the photos, there are more photos of me in this post then there has been in the last 20 combined.
|Welcome to the Azedebo KG and library completion party|
|The finished product. Grass already coming in.|
|Discussing the organization of the days program|
|Prepping the grub|
|Effram helping to keep Lolo at bay|
|The village elders start to arrive|
|Food prep and cooking is ongoing throughout the morning|
|Cooking up a portion of the good eating|
|Village elders, community leaders and our elite workers are all ready to go, kids and moms are still on their way|
|Local government officials on the left community on the right as the school director starts off the program|
|Ejigu talking through ER's administration plans for Azedebo's library and KG|
|A dear friend from Addis, Ashu, came along for the last week in Azedebo. Here is assisting with some translations of my improptu speachifying|
|One of 25 Azedebo workers receiving their ER construction skilled training certificate|
|The community pitched in and purchased a gift for me. I was surprised and elated|
|The compound tour lead by Ejigu and myself|
|Talking through the bathroom design|
|Sharing good humor with one of the visiting worader officials|
|Then the food was ready|
|Ashu is an amazing cook. He helped in prep, as well as serving the 100 or so guests|
|Enjoying the grub|
|And like that the 3 hour program was finished up|
|After the program Lolo was even happy to smile for a photo with the guys|
|Kiddies looking perplexed|