When I was in Ethiopia, I wasn’t struck by the poverty or the patriarchy or the problems. I was overwhelmed by the beauty. If I had to make a list of the beauty that I saw, I would include these things:
- The beauty of Amharic, with its rolling Rs at the ends of words;
- the way Kebede, the Water is Life Ethiopia geologist, says “hmmm” when he is listening;
- the teen-aged boys who stand around, like hyenas, laughing, watching, hungry;
- the faces of the women as they spoke with dignity and assurance and hope;
- donkeys and girls carrying water everywhere;
- the smells of cooking fires and manure mingling into a surprisingly pleasant aroma;
- the strength of the coffee and beauty of the ceremony, much like the strength and beauty of our hosts;
- and of course, the glorious, life-giving sound of water splashing out of a pipe;
- the smile of fathers when his daughter learns a new skill;
- the joy on the faces of women and girls, filling their canteens or water jars with clean, clear water.
When someone asks me about Ethiopia, that’s what I tell them. Ethiopia is full of beauty, if we are willing to find it.