Water to Thrive Executive Director Susanne Wilson travels to visit our water projects in our service areas twice each year. This fall, she is traveling throughout Ethiopia. 

All flights were on time and I connected with our other travelers, Ernie and Martha McWilliams, in the Addis airport. After checking into the hotel and taking a quick nap, we took a short tour of the capital.

After an early dinner and a very long night of sleep, we took a plane right to the southern area of Arba Minch. The south is green – lush, humid, and tropical. Banana trees abound, as do other fruits and vegetables.

Included in Water to Thrive vision trips is time to visit historical, cultural, and other sites of interest. Part of the reasoning is that there is a perception of Africa which includes images of suffering, drought, disease, deprivation, and poverty. Although that part of Africa is real, it is only a small part of the beautiful tapestry that makes up Africa and Ethiopia.

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Ethiopia offers a depth and beauty which continues to astound me. Our first day on the road was a full one, as we visited the Dorze tribe. We learned of their artistry of weaving. The women spin the cotton and the men are the weavers. They are known throughout the country and their work is colorful and rich.

We also get to see inside of their homes, which are beautifully woven out of bamboo and the leaves of the enset, or false banana tree. Aptly named as it bears no fruit.  However, it provides them with food, fibers to make rope, fodder for their animals, and building materials. After seeing how the Konjo, or Dorze pizza, is made, we drink of their local spirits and participate in their unique style of dancing which is all hips and feet work.

As we drive back to the lodge, we are entertained along the road as children from the tribe perform acrobatics, dancing and antics. One young man appeared in the road ahead of us three times we the road down the mountain is a series of switchbacks. I had to reward him. Anyone who works that hard for a tip deserves something.

As we enjoy our dinner of fresh Nile Perch, traditional tibs and injera, we reflect back on the day’s activities and the memories that we made. We also discuss the water issues in Texas and the role I serve in visiting the projects which is accountability and stewardship of donations. Tomorrow we move northward to another day and more memories to be made.