OUR PLAN FOR THE DAY
Today we will together:
1. Visit the REAL girls at Aira-Gulisso, 15 more girls whose lives are changed because of scholarships.
2. Tour the Yubdo Project, the agricultural project Good Shepherd has supported, to see how ecological improvements have been made: forests developing; top soil revitalized; termite infestations limited; mud brick technology used for homes, bee hives, and cooking stoves; wells capped to provide clean water for drinking, cooking, washing.
3. Shop at the Aira marketplace. It’s a Saturday institution in Aira – an open-air market that offers everything from coffee beans to goats to shoes to dresses. It’s colorful and busy and noisy and glorious!
GOD’S STORY/OUR STORY
God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation” (Exodus 3:13-15).
“The God of your fathers . . . has sent me to you.” That must have been a reassuring message to the Israelites who were suffering under Egyptian oppression and cruelty. Did they wonder if God was still with them? Did they wonder if God would save them from their bondage? But now Moses brings the good news. It is our good news today: God is with us – from generation to generation, from one end of the earth to the other.
Saturday was the first day the four of us spent together since we arrived in Aira.
First we drove to Gulisso, a nearby larger town, where we met eight of the REAL girls. They were delightful; they had very limited English skills, so Girma was translator.
Then we went to the market at Gulisso. Rev. Tariko, from the BirbirDilla Synod office had gone with us, so while Girma was seeing a good friend, Rev. Tariko took us through part of the market. We saw vegetables and spices we had never seen before, bags of raw coffee, lots of donkeys, plus dresses and plastic shoes and t-shirts. And so many people shopping there! When we got back to the LandRover, the driver had stepped away, so we became the spectacle for the crowd in the area. They were intrigued by the ferenge (foreigners) in their midst. I think we could have sold Rachel for many, many birr, because there were a lot of young men looking at her with great interest!
We ran back to the Guest House, had lunch, then set out for the Yubdo Project. Talk about a chaotic moment. We were in a LandRover with space for eight in the back. The driver told us we needed to drop off a patient at her home, which was near Yubdo. It turned out that the patient was a young mother who had become paralyzed while giving birth. They loaded her in the LandRover, then her husband, then her mother with the baby, then another young woman, then a nurse from the hospital. Obviously we weren’t all going to fit, because we needed to pick up at least two more for our expedition. And the poor young mother really needed to lie down. So we bailed out of the LandRover. Rev. Tariko made a call, and another vehicle appeared in short time. The four of us, plus four others and the driver filled the vehicle to more than capacity, so it was good we chose to change vehicles. Who really thought this was going to work?
We sped off to the Yubdo Project. And, nine years later, I could not recognize it. The trees are full-grown, and there are fields of them. Who knew, back at the beginning, that a relatively small number of seedlings would develop into this! Plus, they have planted a unique ground-cover grass among the trees. It is thick, helps retain rain so it doesn’t wash away the top soil, spreads wildly via birds and wind. Nine years ago the problem was de-forestation and top soil erosion. They have made quantum leaps in dealing with those issues. The termite problem continues, but the termites tend to eat the grass and leave the trees alone (at least to some extent), plus farmers are being paid to dig up the queen termite and kill it. Slowly, but surely, they are making great progress. Besides those ecological issues, they also had developed a mud-brick technology which allows building without cutting down so many trees and have built many, many containments for springs, to keep the water clean and potable. It’s quite amazing.