Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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The girls are responsible for gathering firewood in the Ethiopian villages, either for use at home or to sell at market.  It’s backbreaking labor, and each time we passed a young woman hauling wood there’d be audible gasps of sympathy from all of us.

So I was thrilled when Marijke–who has been to Ethiopia six or seven times–told us about The Former Women Fuel Wood Carriers Association. It’s a cooperative of women who have damaged their hips from years of carrying heavy loads. They live together and weave scarves and baskets to sell. It was heartwarming to enter the room filled with looms where each woman was creating varied and unique scarves.

Other women were outside in the compound weaving baskets, and yet another was washing dishes. When we stopped to chat with the women weaving baskets, one of them was delighted when she recognized a scarf she had woven that Marijke had purchased. Her face lit up!  I’m glad these women have this association so they can lead happy, productive lives.

There’s another consequence from the girls bearing heavy loads at such a young age. Their bodies don’t fully develop, which creates complications during childbirth. An award-winning documentary, “A Walk to Beautiful“, deals with this subject.

Rhonda Sarantis

Rhonda Sarantis

"She's crazy and loud but she loves you!" That's what they tell my infant granddaughter to prepare her for my visit, so I thought it would be a great way to prepare you. And while I may not always be crazy or loud, one thing is always true: I LOVE people. That's at the heart of my passion for travel. I love getting to know people from different cultures who speak different languages, eat different food, have different ideas and opinions. I'm endlessly curious and make a point of reading about the countries I visit. Instead of saying "that's not how WE do it," I enjoy identifying strengths in diverse cultures, and learning about their way of life. I LOVE road trips! I have great memories of monthlong vacations growing up. Dad always had a van--before they were popular--and invited anybody who wanted to join us. My road trips within the United States will be featured in "The Lower Case Travelogs." Be sure to buckle your seat belt. I execute illegal u-turns if a bakery or estate sale is spotted!

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1 Comment

  • Ali

    At the risk of sounding judgemental of another culture, I can’t help but wonder what the young men do while the young women are gathering the wood?

    June 25, 2016 at 4:33 am
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