Update: Kechene Pre-School

Last Saturday, July 5th, we (local community members, school staff, Katie Wilkerson and myself) installed a tower for a water tank that will used to store enough water for cooking and hopefully a bath or two per week per student.

The installation was very much a community effort. It was nice working up a sweat as we chiseled and dug our way through predominantly rocky soil (reminded me of Stanly County). I can only hope my eyes didn’t fail me; that is all we had to ensure the tower was level (no, for you smart guys reading this, we didn’t even have a glass of water or string and washer with which to improvise).

After the installation of the tower we shared a mid-afternoon lunch and coffee ceremony inside the school house. Coffee ceremonies are a show of appreciation here in Ethiopia, and Saturday was my first. I must say, I couldn’t have experienced it in better company. The regular afternoon rains pounded the tin roof as we enjoyed freshly ground coffee and I practiced my Amharic.

Hopefully, the installation of the water tank will allow each of the 84 students to bathe at least once a week. As with all things, the tough part will be managing the process (ensuring a strict schedule is followed, that towels and soap are readily available and that the children take hygiene seriously).

Many thanks to Jonathan Page, a fellow Cherokee Volunteer who raised most of the money for the water tank and plumbing at Kechene.


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

4th of July, Habesha Style

July 4th was a fantastic community gathering at Cherokee House. I spent Friday morning and early afternoon meeting with HIV+ support groups at Mission to the World, to discuss possible income generating activities (this is the project I’m working on with MBA students from Duke and UNC). Luckily, I was able to make it back to the house in time to help Fontigh and Lout cut up the freshly slaughtered sheep.

Fontigh proceeded to make the best tibs (what Ethiopians call meat that is cut into small chunks and sautéed) and ribs I’ve had while in Ethiopia. He used an enormous wok over an open flame to cook the meat to perfection.

Unfortunately, many of our guests were Ethiopian Orthodox, which means they fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. Asni, our house manager, had prepared for this however, and there was plenty of food that even those who were fasting were permitted to eat.

After dinner, we proceeded to ignite cheap Chinese fireworks. The Ethiopian guests were, not surprisingly, baffled by all of this. I can only imagine what they were thinking, “What are these crazy Americans up to now?” Of course, they’re too polite to ever say anything and besides the fireworks, I believe they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

By 8:30 everyone had cleared out, as many of us were planning to work Saturday morning.


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia