Small town, big lesson!
Incase you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been blogging or commenting for a few days now. This blogger has been busy 😉 . She’s been on a four day trip to Hawassa and visiting places, taking photos of children and hoping better days were yet to come.
The trip was organized by an international NGO my indigenous development organization works with and has to do with the success story of a village in Awassa under a program the organization called CLTS, community-led total sanitation.
We begun our journey Sunday morning, had lunch at Pyramid hotel, debrezeit, and arrived at destination’s end on 5:00 p.m.
After dropping our bags at Pinna Hotel and refreshing ourselves, we headed to the exquisite Tadesse Enjorie hotel for dinner. After which delicious experience, we walked to Zelewi hotel, enjoying the cold air & watching out for the blue two-seaters that were both fast and minus head-lights. Seated at the vast and populated hotel verandah, we ordered our coffee and lighted them ciggies. We discussed oil prices, Press tv and the wheather, before walking back to our hotel and saying our goodnights at the neat lobby where BBC was giving the Chinese Olympics a big coverage & discussing the possibility of a terrorist attack with someone important.
After breakfast the next morning, we hopped on our bus and headed to “SedeQa”, the above mentioned community which lies some twenty kilometres outside Awassa. The trip was both exhilarating and heart-breaking. Here is a luscious land, covered with the sort of trees that would renew your childhood faith in your country’s fertility, yet shelters men and women extending their hands to the rest of the world to beg for their daily bread. Culture, illiteracy, the absence of family planning and good governance along with the laziness a land that demands little to produce much cultivates seems to play a huge role in the problem.
According to our guide, attempts have been made by the various humanitarian organizations to curb the problem. Seeds were given out. Goats and chicken were donated. Feeding centers were built so children wouldn’t die of hunger. But the fathers, it’s always the fathers, traded the seeds for cash crops, sold the chicken and goat for “chaat” and “areqe”, and starved their children so they would be given more money they would eat “tibss” & “Qey wOt” with, after which they’d drunkedly walk home to sleep next to one of their starving wives to make yet another baby that could be used as a source of income. Here was a society where children are used like firewood, women are treated as slaves, and resources, human and land, are wasted in a vicious cycle that makes you wonder if this country ever has a hope of growing.
At “SedeQa”, we were met by a community health worker who related to us how the same villagers who chopped the seats of latrines built for them to take out a piece of iron they’d sell in the market, have dug pit-latrines and built toilet rooms out of the “koba” in their backyard (with either water or mud for cleaning your hand) in an attempt to rid their village of “chilo”. The same “chilo”, they were made to understand, they were eating with their food and drinking with their water. They have gone as far as building communal latrines in the street so passers-by won’t take dump in their precious woods. And children, as well as adults, see to it that anybody found peeing in the villages is punished.
We were also told how they come around in groups (cells) to hear what a community worker has to say every time a community worker pays them a visit, how they are willing to work with the facilitators for the good of their village and are demanding the supply of birth control be doubled.
On the same trip this sister heard how the Albinos in Tanzania are being mutilated so their body parts could be used for witchcraft, and how Tibetan Buddhist monk bath in a newborn child’s blood to achieve purity, “SedeQa” came as a pleasant surprise … and a light at the end of the tunnel. That inspiration is more powerful than liberation and there could be hope for Ethiopia after all.
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