This morning, I went with my brothers Dawit and Berhanu to take our cows to the river. Visitors to our country are always surprised to find that we let our cows sleep in the house. Well, I tell them, the cows have their own bedroom—and when it is cold at night, they create a nice heat. It’s not like they share our beds!
We used to do that, too, but now we have too many cows and goats, so we’ve built a barn. Only our camel, Kassa, and Afework—our favorite cow—sleep in the house.
Our home has three rooms—two for sleeping in and one for cooking and eating. Visitors take pictures of our firepit, and the gourds hanging on the walls, and our malaria nets and water jugs. Merzeneb thinks they’re very rude to poke around our house but they poke around a lot of houses! Father reminded her that the more people who see the problems Ethiopia has, the more help we can get.
My father is a good farmer, but there are men who are not as successful. “You must give back to the earth,” he says. “If you starve the soil, it cannot feed you.” Some of the visitors who come are helping farmers learn new ways. As long as the big kiremt rains came in the summer, we used to have food. But some years, they didn’t come and then there was trouble. Now, most farmers are learning drip irrigation to keep their crops watered.