Thoughts from the Horn of Africa
At least nine children clustered around me, most of them in torn and dirty clothing. Older villagers in bright headwraps and welcoming expressions joined the gathering, taking seats on the chunks of volcanic rock scattered about the community courtyard.
We were on the outskirts of Arba Minch, Ethiopia, filming in an under-resourced neighborhood during the second day of the workshop. All around us, homes were in disrepair, clothing and fabric unwashed, a truly profound sense of poverty pervading the area. And yet, in sharp contrast, these villagers were some of the warmest, kindest, and friendliest people I’ve ever met. We didn’t share a language, but we visited without talking, coexisting as a community in fellowship.
They had next to nothing, but what struck me most was their generosity. They offered what little they had—their huts, their people, their time—to allow us to create a temporary film set in the middle of their living spaces.
If I had to pick the most memorable moment of the last two weeks, it was definitely these moments in between filming with the participants of the Arba Minch University VEW.
But of course, two back-to-back workshops in Ethiopia and Kenya can’t have only one memorable moment.
Sara’s story, for example, continues to replay in my mind. After we left Ethiopia, we traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, to train the staff of CARE Sudan. As the primary workshop coordinator for CARE Sudan, Sara knows firsthand the true state of events in Sudan right now. She works with migrant farmers and refugee camps but lives in Khartoum, so she has seen the full extent of the Sudanese experience. “A lot of donors have given up on Sudan,” she said. “But a lot of work still needs to be done.” One of the most well-spoken, articulate women I have ever met, Sara is eager and excited about making a difference, in part through video education, in her country. “As NGOs,” she said, “we need to be smart, need to be creative, and work with the young people to achieve even bigger change.”
Overall, the staff of CARE Sudan and the Ph.D. students at Arba Minch University truly had a great affection for us and what we do as an organization, and it was a joy to help them build their capabilities. Being away from home for two weeks in developing countries is never the easiest of endeavors, but I think this was one of the most exciting and fruitful trips in OMPT history and worth every moment on African soil. More grace falls upon us than we can possibly consume, and it is our joy and privilege to pay forward that grace to the participants of these workshops.
If you’d like to catch up on moments for our trip, please check out our social media pages, and visit our project pages for specifics on our time in Ethiopia and Kenya. You can continue to follow along over the next few weeks as we continue to share out learnings, results and most important ways that we can continue to help the world’s poorest.
In joyful service,