Join us in Ethiopia

They say the key to successful travel in Africa is flexibility. We are finding that more true than ever this year. Our original trip to Mozambique (scheduled to depart next month), has been cancelled for reasons beyond our control. After several phone calls between my co-leader Kristin, me and the Habitat team, we decided on Ethiopia in March as our alternate destination.

So, if the timing of Mozambique didn’t work for you, and you would like to join us in Ethiopia March 7 – 16, 2014, please let me know. It’s a direct flight from Washington, and the town where we’ll be building is about a 3 hour bus ride from Addis Ababa. (I haven’t been there before, but it’s at 9,000 ft).

framingI’m very much looking forward to going back to Ethiopia, enjoying coffee ceremony, meeting our new families, and working with a new team to build houses.

You can learn more about the team, details and how to apply at the Habitat Global Village page for our team. Or you can email me with any questions.

If you can’t join us and would like to donate to support our team’s work, you can do that at Habitat’s secure donation site.

 

Dedication Ceremony

On the last day of any trip there’s always a ceremony to dedicate completed houses to the new homeowners. It’s always wonderful to see people have new, safe houses. And in the words of one of the homeowners, “You will go home and remember us once in a while, but I will remember you every day because you helped us build our new home.”

Each dedication ceremony is special but the Kombolcha ceremony was particularly memorable.

Last Coffee Ceremony

Our Last Coffee Ceremony

Our Last Coffee Ceremony

Coffee is an important part of Ethiopian culture. Twice a day we stopped work for coffee, and each time one of the girls got to be part of coffee ceremony – including wearing traditional dress, roasting and pounding the beans and serving the coffee. Traditionally there is incense, eucalyptus and popcorn. I got this picture one of the women just before our last coffee ceremony and after a lunch everyone had made for us.

It was a really fun time to celebrate, but bittersweet because we knew it was almost time to say goodbye, and none of us wanted to leave.

Chika!

Chika

Chika

Once the frame is built and the bottom of the poles are painted with insecticide, you can start throwing chika – the combination of mud and straw that will make up the walls. First you throw from the inside and then it has to cure, then you do it again from the outside. Throwing chika is actually a lot of fun – though the wet mud is heavy and it takes a while to get how much to throw at a time and how to get it to go where you want. As you can imagine, it’s also quite messy so I don’t have to many pictures of the actual process.

Once the chika is cured, the outside of the house is wrapped in chicken wire for stability and then can be painted.

 

Framing the house

Framing the house

Framing the house

In Ethiopia, Habitat for Humanity builds modified Chika houses – a sturdier version of traditional houses – using local (and more affordable) materials. Here Tracy and Jeff are adding the long poles to the frame of the house that go down into a trench. The bottom of the poles are painted with insecticide and then the trench is filled in with (very heavy) rocks. The wooden frame is covered with chika (a combination of mud and straw).

 

Extra Hands

Extra hands

Extra hands

Every day we knew the second school was out as we heard the kids coming running back down to road, eager to help or coax us into a game. During coffee breaks they would read to us from their lessons to show us what they’d learned that day. We would get them to help us count or teach us colors. They would get bored with teaching us words that seemed so familiar to them – learning English was much more fun. “What’s that? and that?”

Hyena Game

Play time in Komblocha

Play time in Komblocha

Alkida was my girl in Kombolcha. Here the kids are playing and teaching us a singing game about a hyena in the brush. It’s a lot like Duck Duck Goose. One person walks around the circle while everyone sings and then they drop the scarf behind someone. They have to pick it up and run to try and touch the person with the scarf before they can return to the empty spot. Here Alkida is on the chase.