Monday, August 22, 2011

Peacebuilding in Ethiopia, a story and a request

From Eastern Mennonite University, 1200 Park Rd, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA
Sitting with Mekonnen in my class
In the early months of practicum planning for teaching in Ethiopia, one of my tasks involved finding a supervisor for my work. One name was consistently suggested by my mentors: Mekonnen Desalegn. Mekonnen has been working for the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Ethiopia for nearly 33 years. He's also been heavily involved in church life and leadership within the Meserete Kristos Church (MKC) since the age of 18.

One of my colleagues in peacebuilding, Krista Johnson, who works for MCC's Peace Office, just posted this interview with Mekonnen: Seeking Justice and Peace in Ethiopia

The story
After initial e-mail correspondence in the early months of this year, I met Mekonnen for the first time this past May, just over a month before our departure for Ethiopia. Mekonnen was in town for the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at EMU, where he is - like me - working on finishing an MA in Conflict Transformation. But unlike me, he has to travel from Ethiopia to the US every year to take courses.

While he was in the States, Mekonnen had dinner with my family one night and we talked for hours, getting invaluable information and hearing stories from his life and work with MCC and MKC. Mekonnen's easygoing manner and quick laugh endeared him to us in no time. Once we were in Ethiopia, we were able to see Mekonnen nearly every day during our first week in Addis Ababa, since the MCC compound housed not only our living quarters but also the offices. We worshiped at his local congregation in Addis before being treated to a delicious Habesha (Ethiopian) meal prepared by his wife, Feli. During my class, Mekonnen was one of the guest speakers who came and addressed my students, giving them much of the same information he speaks of in the interview linked above. He was a wonderful mentor while we were there, and I hope our relationship has more opportunities to be nurtured in the future.

The request
As we heard while we were there, a drought has begun to adversely affect life across East Africa, including Ethiopia. This has resulted in famine conditions in some areas. The Mennonite Central Committee is organizing a campaign to raise funds in order to support relief work in the Horn of Africa. There's no precedent on this blog of linking to fundraising efforts for various organizations and their causes, but this is one exception, since this area of the world, this work, and the people organizing it are now near and dear to my heart.

So please consider donating to MCC's East Africa drought response. More details beyond the link...

After class

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