Madison writes of another instance of Ethiopian hospitality and generosity…one with deep meaning.

Yesterday was our last day in Bako, so we had a last dinner and wrap-up meeting with our partners at Central Gibe Synod (CGS). When the meeting ended, our partners surprised us with some parting gifts. They gave Gashaw a fancy Ethiopian jacket and traditional iron rod, which is a symbol of power that represents royalty. Susanne, Kendall, and I were presented with beautiful traditional Ethiopian dresses and jewelry.

From left, Kendall, Shito, and Madison

Kendall’s dress has the Odaa tree on it, which is a symbol of blessings and ancestral wisdom. One of our partners told us that the tree branches of the Odaa tree are large and widespread and can be used to shade many people, making it also a symbol of community.

Our dresses are versions of the habesha kemis, a traditional Ethiopian female dress. This dress is typically all-white but it comes in different versions with different accent colors, which are used to represent various areas of Ethiopia.

Shito, one of the employees of CGS and a strong Ethiopian woman herself, picked these dresses out for us, somehow got the perfect dress for each one of us. It was such a wonderful surprise and another testament to Ethiopian hospitality and thoughtfulness. I am so thankful that I now have a beautiful piece of Ethiopian culture to take home with me!