Mountains of Hope - Life in the Mountain Community of Ottoro

Published Tue, Dec 11, 2018


Living an hour’s walk from the mountain village of Ottoro, the Demeke family and the Bufebo family each live on less than a dime per day. With nine children to raise between the two families in an area of land too small to produce adequate food to feed them all, life is a struggle. The mountainous region isn’t ideal for farming, but crops are essential in the families’ survival. Each family has a few false banana trees, which look nearly identical to banana trees, but do not actually produce bananas. The trees are nevertheless useful as the roots provide a month’s worth of food and the branches provide materials to roof the huts. The trees are extremely drought resistant, which is essential in Ethiopia as it is currently undergoing a multi-year drought. Food, building material, and drought resistant: what’s not to love? The problem with these trees is how long they take to mature. It takes seven years before the roots are ready for consumption or the branches for construction. Even with such a lengthy time to mature, these false banana trees are essential to Ethiopian families’ wellbeing, requiring little maintenance and are useful in a variety of ways. In addition to the false banana trees, both families rely heavily on gardening for their food supply. The Demeke’s have a 12x12 garden outside their hut, while the Bufebo’s garden is not even half that size. With such a small garden, and limited growing options due to the type of soil located on the side of the mountain, it is a struggle for the families to put food on the table. The main crop grown is a type of cabbage because of its relatively short growing season. Being dense in nutrients, it is mainly in soups and stews. With limited land to garden, it is common for the families to eat only four times or less each week, in effort to not outpace their food supply.

Unfortunately, these families do not have any animals to assist them with food production and cannot afford to even buy a single chicken to produce eggs. For additional income, the mothers frequently visit the market, in attempt to trade some cabbage for an egg or other food. Depending on which market is open on that particular day of the week, the walk can take up to seven hours each way to and from the market! On the occasions where a mother is able to trade some garden produce for an egg or some other essential, the exchange is usually valued around ten cents. On a good day, complete with fourteen hours of walking with additional time spent bartering and trading, a profit of ten cents is a victory.

As if food scarcity isn’t a big enough challenge to overcome, water scarcity is also an issue. Occasionally, the rainy season might provide a temporary mountain stream to get water from, but often these waters are too dirty to drink due to erosion as the water carries dirt from the mountain down with it. Outside of rarely catching a break during the rainy season, water is extremely hard to come by. Normally, the mothers from each family have to walk an hour each way for water. Every morning, the women begin their shoeless walk to the river with their jugs empty, returning home a few hours later carrying 25 liters (approx. 7 gallons) of drinking with them. Because the area is so mountainous and there are no real roads, carts cannot be used to assist with gathering water. While the women are out collecting water, the school-age children walk to school, about a 45 minute journey. Each family has at least one child at Adams Thermal Academy (ATA) in Ottoro. Each ATA student is given a full uniform, including shoes, upon enrollment. These children are the only family members who have a pair of shoes. What a blessing!

With food and water scarcity being such a prevalent hurdle to the community, Adams Thermal Foundation (ATF) felt called to action. Currently, efforts are being made to bring a lunch program to the Ottoro campus. A daily meal would not only work wonders for the students, both physically and academically, but would also lift a huge burden off of the shoulders of their parents. Secondly, ATF is working on bringing water to the area by building a pipeline from a mountain spring, roughly five miles away. ATF is currently in the planning and fundraising stage in both of these projects, with hopes to begin implementation within just a few months. Both projects cost about $100,000 each, but an abundant return on investment is expected in the form of changed lives, both physically and eternally. At the heart of it all is Jesus Christ and His Gospel. ATF aims to not only provide clean drinking water to the community, but also Living Water. ATF seeks to empower the community to a better life, both physically and spiritually by being the hands and feet of Jesus and introducing the community to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. To God be the Glory!

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” – John 14:6