Happy 4TH of July from Dire Dawa, Ethiopia
On this day each year Joni and I have the pleasure to host most of our family and our closest friends for a celebration about our beloved USA.
It is always over several days which includes BBQ’s and great meals we prepare for as many as will show up, as we love to entertain in our home in St. Michaels, Maryland. It includes boating as well as a grand fireworks in our harbor. There is no shortage of food, beverages and water to enjoy.
This year is much different. This year we are in Ethiopia with a wonderful organization called Global Hope Network International. We are here with some of our best business friends that are now with this experience true friends. In the past few days we have spent time in villages to understand their needs so they can be self sustaining in providing the essentials of life in water, food, health, jobs and education for their children.
The contrast to our lives and theirs is almost overwhelming to comprehend.
On this 4th of July day our amazing friends Amanda Hite, Jim Knight and Kat Cole had the pleasure to witness a friendly game of soccer between two villages. We were surrounded by children that loved to see us there. We also received a warm welcome from their parents and elders. Yes, we are foreigners that look very different in race and religion, but today we were all friends enjoying the simplicity of a game of soccer with boys playing hard, girls and parents cheering. On a dry dirt field, in the hot winter day that just happened to be the 4th of July, I took many photographs of smiling faces of people that are full of love for each other, their life and yes Americans.
Global Hope Network International works in the poorest villages in the world to help villagers to help themselves. Their approach is to utilize low cost and low technology solutions to provide the catalyst for change in these villages. Councils are formed by the villagers to create solutions they need, want and will work to implement. Our GHNI team is led by Pangeo Coffee CEO & GHNI International Director Jeff Powers. Jeff and his team of local managers, Zerihun, Lemi , Aduena & Alix are changing the lives of the people in these villages. They are doing it with the skill of a diplomat, but the mimd of a business person. (Sound like a Changer of Commerce?)
So on this holiday we had power bars instead of BBQ. We were offered the water the villagers drink, which is too saline to be healthy. We did not watch fireworks over the great Chesapeake waters, but watched soccer on a dusty field. No beer or wine, just bottled water from large jugs distilled for our health. But don’t feel sorry for us….… We had an awesome day! A day with people that appreciate a simple gathering of villagers and foreigners respecting each other and genuinely caring to please each other with a simple smile and the touch of a child’s hand. Trusting our motives were genuine and offering their village for us to enjoy.
Joni, Kat, Amanda, Jim and I don’t know where this will lead for us to follow our hearts, minds and talents to help these villagers, but after today I feel connected in such a warm and unique way. I miss my family and friends at home. I won’t miss another 4th of July in St Michaels, but I will never forget today and the simple power of everyone putting their bias and preconceived notions of what an American or an Ethiopian Villager would be, to enjoy a moment in life all of us will never forget. The smile of a child can say it all.