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North Shoa

When I arrived in North Shoa, Feru the project manager said that if you go into an area and say “I want to do something for you” you have already lost. The North American mentality wants to do something FOR people (handouts). They want to send teams over to build schools, hand out clothes, food etc. Doing something FOR people is the enemy of development. You need to change the FOR to WITH. Unless the beneficiaries own the project it is guaranteed to fail or create dependency.¬†Working WITH them ensures that they own the solution. When Feru arrived in this rural setting there was one mud room that served as the school for Grades 1-2. They bemoaned to Feru that they didn’t have any money to build a school as they couldn’t afford the materials. Feru said to them, look around you what do you see? They said there is nothing but fields of stone. Feru said then lets use stone. The whole community mobilized and collected stones. Feru got some skilled stone masons in to direct them and they had five classrooms built in two weeks. When the government saw their initiative, teachers were provided to them and they now have grades 1-4 and plan to expand 1-6. They built housing for the teachers. Others contributed to a library and decent washroom facility for students and now the whole community has ownership of the school and are proud of it. Feru has a 20 year plan for the region and he says the hardest place to reach will be the AFAR region where Foreign NGO’s have already destroyed the initiative of the people because they are doing things FOR them not WITH them.

-Bob Black

Executive Director

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