Director of the F.I.G. Awassa Ethiopia Program, Greg Knight is in Ethiopia with his daughter visiting our contacts there and building relationships. We wanted to share with you what he is doing by posting his updates and some pictures as he is able to send them to us and this is the first of them. We trust you will enjoy this ‘fly on the wall’ perspective.
“Today we began at 6:30 a.m. with breakfast that was interestingly different. Bekah passed and I ate lightly, both of which proved to be good decisions!
Askale (Eyasu’s wife and partner at Ajuuja) and a driver picked us up in a 4 wheel drive shortly after 7:00 and we picked up Ajuuja Social Worker Tashoma on the way out of Awassa. Afer about 20 minutes of paved roads we began the dirt road/off road part of the three hour drive. About an hour in we had to stop for Fekadu who was carsick and regretting breakfast! He was in the back on the vehicle and the road was very rough and filled with turns, ruts, people, livestock and all manner of transportation both with 4 legs and motorized. The driver didn’t slow much for these instead he cut in and weaved around everything in our path.
We were escorted into a small government building where 5 families that had been identified as the poorest of the poor who could benefit the most from the donation of a sheep were waiting for us along with local social workers. They all expressed deep gratitude for the work of Ajuuja and for our visit which had the purpose of purchasing and delivering sheep to them.
We then began the walk to the local livestock market which was just past the general markets that are open daily and the market that is open only two days per week and provides the only opportunity for the local families to purchase staple foods, house wares, etc. The market were scheduled to open at noon and were over an hour early and things were relatively quiet. We heard whispers of Ferenjis! Ferenjis! which is the term for white people.
As we waited for noon we decided to try our hands at the local outdoor ping pong tables. Within minutes the crowd grew as if a major sporting event was taking place! They were friendly and quite delighted at the Ferenjis lack of skill on the tables.
At this point the group separated into two groups since the market price for animals would suddenly double if Ferenjis were present to purchase.
Bekah and I along with Joeal Tashoma retured to the market place as the local vendors began to arrive with their wares. We walked through the market and were followed by a few children but the usual calls from the vendors like “special for you big man” or “we give you best price missing.” They were selling flour, sugar, spices, pots & pans for the locals and had nothing for tourists. It was a great look at that part of the area residents lives. Later we saw women and children loaded down their purchases and headed back to their homes in the countryside.
We received a message that the animal market had begun and we walked in that direction to meet the others after they bargained and selected the sheep.
The streets were filled by this point with people and the calls of Ferenji were much more pronounced and we were being followed more people than we could count. Tashoma and I were in conversation and hadn’t noticed the growing entourage until we stopped and were surrounded by curious onlookers posturing to get a good look at the strangers. We decided it would be best to keep moving!
We found a place to sit and the people formed a circle about twenty feet from us after much encouragement from Joel and Tashoma where we waited. I felt like we should dance or sing or something to get the people a show but we just waited.
After about 15 minutes or so we began the walk back to the Government building we started at and met the sheep and the rest of our team on the way.
The sheep were beautiful and healthy animals and we were pleased to learn the with the funds that were donated for five sheep we they were able to purchase seven!! Two more families would have a sheep!!
Waiting for us were the five families and two additional families had been identified to receive the two bonus sheep. We presented the sheep to the families who were most grateful. It was not until a representative from an agency that advocates for women and orphans spoke that I realized the significance of these animals. She spoke and expressed thanks for the gifts that would change the way that these families lived. To me it was just a sheep. To them it was a source of fresh milk and future lambs as they will have them bred. It made me wish had been able to provide more. She then gave thanks to God for sending us and for the donors and all the families we represent and mentioned that not many are concerned for women and orphans.
I thanked them for welcoming us into their community and assured them that we are driven by scripture to aid the widow and orphan in their distress. I let them know that families in the United States were praying for them and valued them. It was a moving experience that won’t be soon forgotten. This was a great affirmation that we are doing all this for a reason.
for perspective I asked what the annual income for an average family in that are would have and was told a most of the families would struggle to reach $100. So these animals represent nearly half a year’s income!!”
Thank you, Greg! We look forward to hearing more.
To learn more about the F.I.G. Awassa Program and how you can be a part of it, visit Project HOPEFUL.