It was planned that we attend the opening of a new school in the village of Serte, Ethiopia. As we drove up we could hear the singing and clapping of the whole village welcoming us. As we got out of the truck we were humbled to be honored in such a beautiful fashion. It touched everyone.
We heard about the project and what it meant to the people and children who lived there. They thanked CLWR and LWF repeatedly for assisting them in building this new school. It was new, open and had desks for all the students. They had all of us assist in handing out awards of merit to the students. I had the honour of assisting in cutting the ribbon to open the school with Dr. Lemma Degefa the LWF Director.
We mingled with the people and attended a small session in one of the new school rooms on a micro finance project that had also been developed in the village. It was amazing to hear the stories of self reliance and what that meant to the families that participated. It was something that was beginning to change all of their lives.
And then as quickly as it had started it was over. It was time to leave. As I had done before, I took pictures of the kids and stopped to show them. They laughed and pointed to themselves and others on the small digital screen. Of course they wanted to have more picture taken to see, which I did again and again until getting into the truck. I could have spent hours doing that and hearing their laughter.
We left with so much more than we could have imagined. By helping with the project of the school we had given them something that created a stronger and healthier community. But we left with the experience of hospitality and such a generous outpouring of gratitude that will never be forgotten. The Ethiopians have something we North American have almost forgotten.