June 14-15 - Back to Addis

Upon returning to Addis, I met with members of the Central Mella Rotary Club. This club is the host club for a Rotary grant written by the Northwest Austin Rotary Club. The grant will provide 12 water wells serving over 7,000 people and will include sanitation, hygiene, maintenance and oversight of the water wells. After the meeting, the W2T group toured the operations of a social enterprise called Timret Lehiwot, or Alliance for Life. The organization was founded in 2004 and focuses on creating healthy, inspired and empowered women. The women who are served are the most marginalized of society; domestic workers, handsmaids and those in the sex trade industry. The women are provided vocational and business training so that they can become self-sufficient. The organization also serves as a business incubator for the women once they graduate from the program. One of the most interesting projects they support is the training of women who are disabled. The women run and maintain public toilets and receive the income paid to use the facilities. In addition, women who graduate can form cooperatives and even apply for micro-loans. Timret Lehiwot is next focusing on the husbands and male partners of the women to educate them in the hopes to provide for gender equality.

    

 

After the tour, it was time for some last minute shopping before Kathy and Brizi head back to the states. We hit the Shiro Meda which is an outdoor market. The experience can be a bit of sensory overload as the stalls are located beside a very busy road jammed with huge tour buses, taxis, cars, pedestrians, a van equipped with loud speakers asking for donations to cover a injured man's hospital bills, and vehicles parked at off angles ignoring any sense of order. Added to the noise and fumes are the hawkers asking you to visit their stalls and the homeless people asking for your change. Each of us managed to negotiate and make some good bargains. 

 

  

 

Every W2T vision trip culminates with dinner and entertainment at a traditional restaurant. The three of us decided to dress in the traditional style which was much appreciated by the hotel staff and the other diners. The entertainment for the night was several vocal acts interrupted by traditional dancers. The Ethiopian style of dancing is unlike anything I've witnessed. The movement is all shoulders and neck and truly defies human anatomy. The men and women dance separately and never touch in a way that seems to tease and invite. The men also use some high jumping antics and footwork that would be sure to impress even the America's Got Talent judges. 

 

Today/June 15th ...our group parted ways as Gashaw and I head to Uganda to visit more water projects while Brizi and Kathy take a late night flight back to the US. Kathy expressed her gratitude for an amazing experience and for having her eyes opened to the water issue. When asked about her favorite part, it wasn't sitting amongst the monkeys in the Simien Mountains or the amazing landscape or even the great bargains, but it was the joy and gratitude she felt from the people in the villages who now have clean water.