the evening it was tour time. The fire was being lit and the coffee
brewed, so we got the full guided treatment. When we returned, the
coffee was accompanied by fresh wheat-grain, hot and delicious, roasted
right in front of us.
When you have no
pen, no camera, no reminder to indicate that you are ’different’, they
feel comfortable and talk - just the adults: children are listeners.
They talk of their problems, of clean water, the health centre, a
school nearer to their homes. They certainly know how to talk and why
things need to change, but there are many hurdles to jump to put things
right. And the actions of powerful officials both abroad and at home
certainly affect them directly – of which they know nothing.
talk of their dry land which no longer produces without fertiliser,
even if their prayers for rain are heard. And they talk of the rise in
price of this fertiliser, but remain innocent to what makes it so.
Little do they know that the World Bank is the culprit, attaching
conditions to the 'Aid' they give and encouraging the cutting of public
funds to ensure that debt repayments are met. The government acts in
the interest of the giant globalisers and lifts the subsidy from
fertilisers in response to a command from above...
have no land, some have no man to plough. There is a mutual
understanding that a widow will get help from the young landless farmer
and in exchange he gets to share the produce.
it gets late the entire house seems to gradually fill - gathering men
and women, children and pets all in one room. Some have been out for as
long as 12 hours, young ones shepherding the cattle and taking them to
graze far away.
The young boy who was
working for our host family was around 10 years old. He gets up early
in the morning to take the cattle to drink and graze. The poverty must
be truly terrible in that area for his family to allow their son to
work for as little as 100 Ethiopian Birr (L8) per year. He gets fed
twice a day and has a roof over his head. He is like a son – indeed, he
calls the farmer father and he is called son. However, I cannot help
but tell myself how unfair life is and how hard it must be for him or
all the children in that area to wake up at 5am and go out for the day
with just a cup of coffee and a bit of bread.
will each have a few roasted grains in their pocket and they share
water with the animals they care for. The only time they get to rest is
in the evening as the lack of light forces them into idleness. But the
irony of all this is that no matter how hard they all seem to work they
still live in poverty. Not enough to eat, no local health centre, no
electricity or road, no clean drinking water and no local school for
The nearest elementary
school is at least 2 hours walk away, as is the health centre. As for
secondary schools, they can't go unless they leave the village and move
to a bigger one. Some boys have made progress by doing so and are now
teachers or in some sort of job. But for that they need either
relatives who live in a bigger village or the money to pay for
accommodation and food. This is especially true for the girls – after
finishing their elementary school they can't progress further as the
distance is too much of a constraint. "They need a hostel", was the
response I got from a secondary school director. He suggested that if
there was a safe house for the girls to stay in the bigger villages it
would be a great help to the girls who wish to study at secondary
We sleep and dreams come to replace the problems and the hunger. But people need more than dreams…