What can be gained by reflecting on the past year?
Is reflecting on the past year a worthwhile endeavor?
Let’s say it is worthwhile to reflect and share some ideas.
Towards that end, here are some thoughts and images on the simple theme of looking back at 2012.
Baskets are one utilitarian object that is an essential part of women’s life and work here in East Gojjam. The upper left image is a painting I commissioned by a local (Bechena) artist. It’s a bit surreal, which is the artist’s stylistic choice. He added the bird in the lower left corner on the tree stump. I’m not sure why.
The upper right image shows a compound in our old neighborhood. The family didn’t have enough money to put up a compound fence, so much of their daily life was lived in a space next to a main walking path and an improvised mini market. The clay pot is something that I loved seeing every day, almost always positioned just like this under the water spigot. Behind the basket, ceramics, and water spout you see the area where they often cooked and made enjira in open air.
Above Left: KG students at Fasika Primary School in Debre Markos enjoying an interactive book with google eyed animals.
Above Right: Mama the town’s most famous tej maker, sharing her honey wine with guests (even though it was before noon, we were forced to try her tej!)
Who does the heavy lifting and bears the physical burden of moving things in Amhara? Often, women and girls.
Sometimes, horses and garis (wheeled carts) move heavy boxes. Here are some of our donated books heading to the primary school. Below you can see how our home was filled with boxes of books when the College of Teacher Education failed to inform the guards that the truck would be delivering books. After being turned away from the CTE, the driver disappeared (along with our community’s books!) for 4 days. When he finally returned to Debre Markos, it was 9 pm and he unloaded the books into our home. Thank goodness we had the space.
Some of the books inside the boxes were excellent. We spent weeks sorting them and distributing them to local schools and organizations.
Each and every book we donated was stamped with these purple stamps. Thanks again to any and all who supported our book donation project. It was a lot of work, but worth it to see the books arrive in the schools. Below: some of the future beneficiaries preparing rooms with designated shelves for classroom based Mini-Libraries. Also a look at Chad’s lending library at Negus Tekla Haimanot Primary School.
Good times were had at FM International Hotel. Above, you can see the wait staff knew that Chad didn’t like foam (arafa) on his “Masciatto” — as this drink was spelled in the menu and on the receipt. Interestingly, FM often smoked the milk used in their coffee/steamed milk beverages. Chad’s drink (left) vs. Jen’s drink (right). Typically, this made everyone laugh. It’s the little things, right?
In Debre Markos, there were plenty of Derg Era Concrete Houses in our neighborhood packs of wild dogs which slept all day and ran around all night, and we had a banana tree in our compound which produced bananas right before we left town. Somehow, these 3 facts and images are related.
We went to Tillik (Big) Hotel to watch election results over breakfast. Here you see Barack Obama’s acceptance speech delivered from the top of a refrigerator. On the right you see the post office sign. Thank God for the post office and everyone who sent care packages! Thanks!
Finally, I’ll leave you with images of some of the books we donated to schools. Thanks to all who participated in the Books For Africa project to support Early Grade Reading Centers in schools where PCVs are working. In all, we donated to the University, the College of Teacher Education, two Orphanages, the Public Library, and many public primary schools in our community. More on that project at a later time. Below is an image of Chad being honored with traditional gifts — a thing to swat flies made of copper and horse hair in one hand, and a painting on leather of people eating something traditional (like kai wat) and drinking tej in the other hand.