Awra Amba

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Nazrawi
Aregawi

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Mon Apr 23, 2007 3:04 am   
Ewnetim Awra Amba!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLQJtCuGfyY[/youtube]
Quote:

Establishment and Location of Awra Amba Community

The Awra Amba community was established in 1980 with the aim of solving common
socio-economic problems by working together and helping each other. Awra Amba is
located in south Gondar Zone, Fogera Woreda8 some 73 kms East of Bahir Dar, the
seat of the Amhara National Government. According to the information obtained
during the discussion with members of the community, there were only 19
households in the community at the initial stage. The membership has now increased
to 90 households with a total population of 343 people in the community.

The chairman of the development committee, who does not want to be called a
chairman but a member of the community, had made efforts in convincing people to
follow the principles of equality, humanity, honesty and integrity in their livelihoods. In
1980, most of the Awra Amba community members were convinced and started
practicing the unique lifestyle. Earlier, most of the Awra Amba community members
were followers of Islam, with some Orthodox Christians. However, the residents of
Awra Amba have argued that, “What else God does want us to do if not fulfill all
humanitarian deeds?” The Awra Amba community gave up religious practices with a
view of making use of the time they might consume (waste) fulfilling these
expectations in order to carry out developmental activities.

Although the Awra Amba people instigated this communal culture prior to the Derg9
regime, the Derg forcibly changed it into a cooperative. Despite this fact, the
community has been able to retain its principles and ways of life. Towards the end of
the previous regime in Ethiopia, the chairman of the community migrated to Southern
Ethiopia because of unrest and security problems. Interestingly enough, most of the

members of the community followed and lived temporarily in Bonga woreda of
Southern Ethiopia – this incident indicated the commitment of the community to the
new lifestyle. In 1982, they returned to their village as peace and stability had been
restored in the country, and in particular in the area. Unfortunately, however, the land
of the community had been distributed to other farmers. The local governments (the
regional and woreda) took some land back from the farmers and allocated about 17.5
hectares to the Awra Amba community, to be used for housing construction and
some cultivation.

The Awra Amba community area is one of the food insecure areas of the Amhara
region. Moreover, the available cultivable land is not sufficient for the community
members. Therefore, although agriculture is one of the means of livelihood, the
community members are striving to diversify their sources of livelihood and they have
made great efforts to get alternative means of subsistence by engaging themselves
in handicrafts. Their major off-farm activity is weaving, using both traditional and
modern weaving machines. They also strive to generate additional income from the
three grinding mills which were provided by Regional Micro and Small Scale
Enterprise Development Agency (REMSEDA).

The unique administrative system of Awra Amba people is organized under nine sub-
committees. There is an overall development committee, the chairperson of which is
the leader of the community. There are sub-committees for specific purposes, such
as, education, for keeping lost and found belongings, for receiving guests, taking
care of patients, elderly and children, community health, curbing individual and
community problems and for agriculture. The members of the committee and sub-
committees consist of men and women and are elected by the community members.

The members call the system a development structure of the community. The
development committee coordinates the various activities of the sub-committees The
structure as a whole is illustrated below. The broken lines between sub-committees
indicate that the sub-committees have equal status, operate in harmony and share
information. There is also a strong link between the sub-committees and the
community at large. If there are problems in the operations of the different sub-
committees, the problem identification and solving sub-committee consults and
discusses with the respective sub-committees.

The education sub-committee has been following up the adult and child education
matters. The community has established a literacy campaign for adults and almost all

the members can read and write. They have also established a library, a service
centre for the elderly, and a pre-school for the children. When children reach school
age, they are sent to a school in Woreta which is about 13 kms away.

In 1989, the community developed its own memorandum of understanding, without
any external assistance. The community members who can read and write prepared
the document in a participatory fashion – members actively participated in articulating
the memorandum of understanding and the major issues, especially their principles,
were incorporated. However, the members who participated in the focus group
discussion reported that the memorandum of understanding is not as good as it could
be and they wish to have a better one in the future.

The Awra Amba women can engage in cultivating, in weaving and in producing
industrial goods and participating in different responsibilities. The men participate as
well in fetching water, caring for children, in threading cotton and collecting firewood,
activities which in most other parts of country are left up to women.

The women said that they have equal rights. As one of the women said, “Our men do
not oppress us and we have established a tradition of correcting one another’s
mistakes through discussions.” Unlike in other communities, the Awra Amba women
are given three months maternity leave. With regard to this, W/ro Enani Kibret, who is
the wife of the chairperson, explained that the community assigns individuals who will
take care of the women during maternity and menstruation leave. “We used to watch
over them for ten days from the time they gave birth which, of course we have now
given up and we have not faced any problems in relation to abstaining from watching
over women in child bed,” .

The people have different ways of conducting marriages as compared to marriage
performances of nearby communities, as well as in most rural parts of the country.
Early marriage is practiced in Amhara State whereas, Awra Amba has banned early
marriage, having decided that girls should marry when they reach 18 and above
while boys are married at and above 22 years of age. It is not by holding feasts that
they celebrate marriage in the locality but through a simple cultural wedding
ceremony.

The other admirable aspect in this regard is that marriage is arranged with the full
consent of the bride and the bridegroom. A newly wed couple told a national TV
reporter that parents do not choose their children’s spouses The community of Awra
Amba attribute the fact that divorce is not common in the area because they arrange
marriage with the full consent of the spouses, who, most of the time, conduct a
thorough investigation of one another’s behaviour.

The Awra Amba community has a unique style of housing. Although they look very
ordinary from the outside, inside they are quite special. The houses are made so as
to be easily partitioned and suitable for cleaning and decoration. Their beds, stools,
shelves and the like are made up of mud, bricks and wood. Their kitchens are also
modern. Speaking of their kitchen, a woman said that it saves fuel and protects their
skin from being exposed to the flame and regulates heat.

Source: here

Ahmed Teshome - Awra Amba
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fk9eqAGam60[/youtube]

Some more info here on ESAi by Shallom and others

A Model Community for the Rest of Ethiopia!!!


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Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:02 am   


more pics for your enjoyment

and yes they are dope.
and they have a new library now - and some members of ESAi have contributed towards buying them a bunch new reference books made/published and sold in ETH.

and in summer 2006, i met this girl that was doing her graduate research on how to "replicate" that kind of community in ETH... she was supposed to email me her "findings" but she didn't. I wonder what happened to her work? Think

and Zumra's wife inan'ay is the cutest!


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Nazrawi
Aregawi

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Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:20 am   
Just imagine the mentality of kids born from such a hard working community when they grow up. Wow!

If I were a president, wow, that would be the most important thing I would do during my terms i.e. replicating this kind of community in every corner of Ethiopia whether by peace or by some kind of friendly actions. Too bad I aint gonna be one. No need to copy China or India when we have such a model community for the rest of Africa right within our land. It's a shame the government has not done anything substantial regarding this community besides displaying the work they do on a national TV. Not even a national achievement award!? That is how bad we are these days. When I presented their case in my class, most my friends, really, could not believe that these people are actually Ethiopians...coz they'all think we are some lazy bastards who wait for a foregin aid to come to our rescue. Then their question was, as any "civilized" or "educated" person could ask, "so what is your government doing about this? How do other Ethiopians see them? Is there any effort by other communities in your country to learn something from this community?" I am not sure if I gave them a fair reply to their questions. But I am sure you all can guess what my answers were.

Just imagine the kids that come out of this community. I am really speechless!


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defar
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Mon Apr 23, 2007 11:02 am   
i had a scarf made by these guys. was a good one. but lost it in a cab


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Mon Apr 23, 2007 11:29 am   
Nazrawi wrote:
...Then their question was, as any "civilized" or "educated" person could ask, "so what is your government doing about this? How do other Ethiopians see them? Is there any effort by other communities in your country to learn something from this community?" I am not sure if I gave them a fair reply to their questions. But I am sure you all can guess what my answers were.
Naz, no i can't guess! tell us.

defar, what would you do for a klondike bar.... i mean ... to get another scarf made by them and purchased from their store from the lady shown below?

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defar
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Mon Apr 23, 2007 11:35 am   
ShalomShalom wrote:

defar, what would you do for a klondike bar.... i mean ... to get another scarf made by them and purchased from their store from the lady shown below?

hmmmm litaterfibign endayhon


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Mon Apr 23, 2007 11:40 am   
defar wrote:
ShalomShalom wrote:

defar, what would you do for a klondike bar.... i mean ... to get another scarf made by them and purchased from their store from the lady shown below?

hmmmm litaterfibign endayhon
no one asked how much would you pay, defar defar!


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defar
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Mon Apr 23, 2007 11:43 am   
ShalomShalom wrote:
defar wrote:
ShalomShalom wrote:

defar, what would you do for a klondike bar.... i mean ... to get another scarf made by them and purchased from their store from the lady shown below?

hmmmm litaterfibign endayhon
no one asked how much would you pay, defar defar!

setyo?!


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