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Origin Story Part II- Going deeper

If you can get past my crass title meant to catch your attention, I'd like to invite you to take a journey with me to a time and place before cars, limited use of fiduciary currency, and high interdependence within the communities. Surprisingly recent, the time and place I describe is Kutaber, Ethiopia in the late 1800's to early 1900's.


This time and place is where my grandparents grew up. They lived by a different set of morals that would be difficult to sustain today. Meritocracy truly ruled. They woke at 4am, sometimes earlier, to pray for their many children by their Orthodox Christian names, their future partners and their future grandchildren. I am still benefiting from the divine protection invoked by these prayers.


The amount of livestock and farmland they owned meant that no one in their home or community would be without food. The well on their property pulling from cool ground waters filtered by the mountains of the Great Rift Valley meant no one would thirst. The storage houses on their property were full of enormous pots of grain, flower, and seeds. During harvest time there would be so much food the community would come to the farm to help prepare and store the harvest. In exchange they would take home certain items that would last their families a year.



In addition, my grandfather was a businessman. He would saddle up his horse, strap on his gun and travel to far off lands as far as the Red Sea to bring back textiles like silk to sell in his store. He paid in lumps of precious metals and brought back a progressive worldview, even insisting that his daughters learn to shoot shotguns while riding bareback and be educated to the highest levels possible.


He was also among the first class of teachers hired at Kutaber School. He believed in prioritizing education. There were times he would leave the school when promising young pupils were absent, plucking them off of the farms on which they were working and rode them to class. Many of his children and pupils went on to hold prominent positions in healthcare, public health, engineering, and the sciences around the world.


This is the same school Global Education Foundation has partnered with as our site location for our service learning trips through Explore Ethiopia. So, know that when we say you'll be treated as part of the family, we mean it.


*First two photos courtesy of @vintageethiopia on IG.



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