Written by CEO Steve Messinetti
Today was our last work day in Ethiopia which involved one last push to get the jobs done. That included having the walls on three bathroom buildings 12 bricks high and mixing and pouring the concrete for two kitchens.
The day culminated with a a closing celebration where all of the families and Habitat staff came together for one last coffee ceremony and the passing around of popcorn, roasted barley, and fresh bread. Lots of tears were shed as we said farewell to our new friends.
Throughout this week one thing we learned was that in Ethiopia time is quite different. They literally use a different calendar and clock and also allow for whatever comes up each day to take priority over any specific schedule. Community and relationships are most important here.
So we often found ourselves hurrying somewhere just to wait 10, 20 even 30 minutes to get started with what we had planned. We waited in the hotel lobby each morning for our vans to arrive and local construction leaders to be ready for us. Many traveled long distances to the site and there is no knowing how long it will take to get somewhere in Addis as 5 million people are sharing the roads to drive and walk to their morning destinations. We waited at the build site for materials to arrive. We waited in families homes for coffee to be ready. That involved roasting the beans, grinding them by hand and then making the coffee in a pot over a small wood burning stove – all right in front of us in the small home. No Keurigs here!
At first, all the waiting was not welcomed. Then I started to realize that some of the best experiences were had while we waited. Conversations with a team members who I happened to plot down next to on the couch in the lobby about our experiences of the week. Playing with children who come to us like magnets as we stand in the streets of the slums waiting for material to arrive. Sharing about our families and personal stories with the local laborers who were hired on to work along side us.
If our experience here was one where everything started and ended on time and as planned, we may have gotten a little more done on the homes and projects we were working on, but we would have missed out on so much of what I think we all will cherish most from our time here.
Amasegalano (thank you) Ethiopia!