Day 17: What you Give is what you Get

The maid tried to get into my room again at a little after 5am! I guess hotels staff here are used to early risers but I don’t get up at 5 am! Today was Easter Sunday and everywhere was closed and taxis were few and far between as Easter is quite a big thing here. I had plenty of time before the flight and the airport was not too far away possibly 2 miles so I figured I could take a gentle stroll in about 40 minutes. On the walk there were the usual groups of people running, I think everyone wants to be a long distance runner and sees it as a way out of poverty, but what was interesting today, was as people were finishing Lent today, they were going to break their fasting with meat if they could afford it. While walking on the main road to the airport, which was not busy at all, people were out in the streets with goats slaughtering them over the drains in the main road. Of course it wasn’t everyone, it was just two of three but I was amazed to see this and for me it was shocking, particularity as they did it in front of other goats which seemed puzzled about what was happening if anything to their goaty mate, but here it’s normal, it’s just breaking the fast. But that was it, my last image of Ethiopia. Yesterday somebody threatened to slit my throat like a goat, and today I saw it happening for real!

So back in the airport I got rid of all of my loose change and just bought a few rubbish gifts for myself, typically a lot more expensive than the markets in town but on the other hand everything was priced and I could buy food drinks and souvenirs without having to barter, w-hey!

On the plane home I wondered to myself about what I’d learned about my time in Ethiopia. I’m coming to one conclusion and I’m not sure if it’s correct or not, but to me charities in Ethiopia have led to one thing and that’s expectations. When a charity has just been handing out money without proper thought or care or consideration, people will expect that money to continue. I have never been anywhere with so much begging and done by such a cross-section of people, I had thought India was the worst place but here it’s currently on a different level. And I wonder whether when you just hand money and food out to people, but not develop the infrastructure such as farming and work, you are doing nothing more than turning people into those you were hoping to help, i.e. beggars. What you give is what you get.

Never has the line, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, give him the tools to fish and you feed him for life, ring so true. I think Ethiopia was given the fish and not the rod. The West’s good intentions haven’t helped develop this country, if anything it feels to me like it’s being held back. I’m sure this country will go on to develop further as there are some amazing things here, but at this moment the instability, the hassle, the logistics of getting around are just too much. As a country famous for proverbs, maybe they should listen to one meant to originate from Iran…..

“A beggar will always be beggar if they give him the world as a gift.”

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