W2T intern Madison Magiera describes how welcome the team has been made to feel in the communities they visit.

As we have been visiting more and more completed water projects, I have learned more and more about Ethiopian hospitality. The Ethiopian people are some of the most welcoming people I have ever met.

Whenever we visit a project site, we are always greeted with smiling faces. Many times, after looking at the wells or springs, we are invited into someone’s home for food. Members of the community lead us to a home where chairs and a table have been set up just for us. We sit down and are quickly served drinks (Sprite, Coke, and Fanta are popular) followed by a traditional Ethiopian meal.

If we visit three wells in one afternoon, we’ll do this three times. Usually we eat homemade injera and beef stew, and sometimes we have potatoes, chickpeas, and seasoned barley. Before each meal, a girl or woman comes around to every person with water, soap, and a pail, and pours water over our hands so we can have clean hands before eating. Then, the women serve the food with proud smiles and encourage us to take more food even when we say we are completely full. We also sometimes have traditional jebena buna after the meal.

These families happily took us into their homes to make us feel welcome. The women and girls must have cooked for hours before our arrival, because at every home there was a ton of food. I must say that Ethiopian hospitality is not like any hospitality I have known before. The people we have met have gone the extra mile to welcome strangers into their communities. Every time we leave a visit, I have a full belly and a full heart.