Welcome to Ethiopia!
From ancient religious artifacts to busy African markets, our country is full of rich culture and vibrant colors! People often miss the beauty of Ethiopia when they focus only on the many challenges facing the people in our country. We have had a long history of poverty, but many people here would love to work. There simply aren’t enough jobs. Too many of us are simply living to survive. Many never even had a chance to dream about their future…until LSM came along with hope givers like you alongside them.
Please join us as we share a little about our country.
What Does Life in Ethiopia Look Like?
Church in Ethiopia
Religion plays a large role in our life in Ethiopia, with most being a part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Most celebrations in our country are religious. The major holidays include Christmas, Epiphany (Baptism of Jesus), Good Friday, Easter and Meskel (finding of the true cross). Many of our churches are filled with beautiful artwork and music. Only 18% of the Ethiopia population is part of the Protestant and Catholic church.
Christian Festivals, Art & Music
There are a variety of religious festivals that are an important part of our life every year. The Ethiopian Orthodox church traditions include fasting and detailed food restrictions, use of animals and specific layout of our churches. Churches are often filled with colorful paintings and art. Another strong tradition is music. You will often hear drums and metal rattles in churches, along with prayer sticks and clapping of hands.
Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, is home to the largest open air market on the entire continent! The Addis Mercato is a giant sprawling market that’s home to all things Ethiopian that you’d ever want to purchase. At the market, you can find Ethiopian textiles, livestock, coffee beans, spices, variety of foods and household supplies.
Addis Ababa is the largest city of Ethiopia with over 3 million people. This is a city of contrasts. Parts of the capital show signs of economic development with new construction right alongside many neighborhoods in severe poverty. Tin shacks alongside skyscrapers and dirt roads alongside city highways is part of life in Addis. Many people migrate to Addis Ababa from rural areas in search of jobs and a better way of life. Unfortunately, they typically find only disappointment and worse poverty. Employment is scarce and homes are often makeshift dwellings made of whatever scrap materials can be found. Often, families lack basic amenities like, electricity, public sanitation or running water.
Many men are farmers or herders. They are responsible for plowing, harvesting and caring for animals. Women cook and raise their children. You will see women and girls pounding grain into flour and gathering firewood for cooking. Older girls look after children, while older boys look after livestock. All water needs to be carried back from a nearby well or river. In the city, you will see many women selling injera on street corners or fruit at the local food market. Unemployment in urban areas are very high, with over 50% of the population struggling to survive. At the end of the day, many people drink coffee and visit. Most people cannot read and instead enjoy sharing stories.
Many roads in our country are unpaved and in bad condition, so even short trips can take a very long time. Affording a vehicle is extremely rare, so many people walk miles per day and carry large loads of supplies on their head. You will often see donkeys or a gari, which is a two-wheeled horse drawn cart, carrying supplies. If one can afford, buses and bajajs (motorized rickshaws) are common ways people travel in cities. Except in the big towns and cities, there are few cars on the streets.
Health care is dismal in Ethiopia. Chest colds kill infants, car accidents claim lives, birth defects are prevalent, pedestrian hit and runs happen daily, meningitis and starvation are common. Ethiopia has a high rate of infant mortality and those deaths are usually due to treatable illnesses. Malnutrition is still the main cause of death for 54% of our children. Ethiopia’s healthcare consists of one hospital for every 659,000 people, which means many sick people do not have access to medical care or cannot afford to pay for treatment. Over 70% of doctors are found in urban cities, where only 5% of the population live.
Food We Eat
Our main staple food is called injera, an unleavened bread made from teff, a crop only grown in Ethiopia. Injera is often eaten with sauce made from meat, grains, beans or vegetables. We eat our food on large platters with our fingers and share one plate with the entire family. Many days during a year, we do not eat meat, eggs or dairy due to religious tradition. The coffee ceremony is an important culture tradition of how we end our meal. For the coffee ceremony, we roast coffee beans over a hot fire in a small cast iron pan, and then pound them into a fine grind. The fine powder goes into a handmade pottery coffee pot, and is placed over hot coals. Coffee is poured into tiny cups with sugar.
Typical Ethiopian Homes
A traditional Ethiopian home, called a tukel, is round and made from mud and grass. The thatched roofs are cone shaped. Most homes have one or two rooms with dirt floors. In urban areas, you will see a mixture of styles. A tin roof shack will be next to a two-story concrete home.
Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries and has been a symbol of poverty, hunger and human struggle. You can see rock hewn churches, mountain plateaus, lush green valleys, and the biblical way of life that is still lived in many areas. Despite the beautiful diverse country, poverty in Ethiopia is astounding. You cannot escape poverty, with death and hunger being a part of our daily life. You see the desperation and hunger in people’s faces. Malnutrition and homeless people of all ages are in our country. You often see nursing mothers and women with small children living on the streets.
There are 87 known indigenous languages in Ethiopia: eighty-two spoken and four extinct. The vast majority of the languages spoken in our country can be classified by a person’s location – those living in highlands of the north, lowlands of the south-central region and those living in the south. Amharic has been the dominant and official language for the last 150 years. English is the most widely spoken foreign language and the language in which secondary school and university classes are taught.
Try an Authentic Ethiopian Recipe
A meal brings families together all over the world.
Berbere (“hot” in Amharic —is a spicy and flavorful spice blend.)
1/2 c. dried chiles
1/4 c. paprika
1 T. cayenne pepper
1 T. salt
1 t. onion powder
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. cumin
1 t. ground coriander
1 t. ground cardamom
1 t. ground fenugreek
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. ground cloves
Directions: Mix all ingredients until thoroughly mixed. Store in airtight container, preferable glass.
Versatile seasoning can be used to season chicken, pork, lamb, stews, sauces or vegetables.
Pray for Ethiopia
Together we can lift Ethiopia up in prayer! Pray for:
- Growth in the church and Christian beliefs held by Ethiopia from the earliest Christian history.
- Pray for those who are persecuting Christian believers.
- Godly leaders who will lead this country to Christ and address its generational problems of poverty.
- Those who are in hopelessness and despair.
- End the cycle of corruption and trafficking.
- Women and their children to be raised up to transform their culture for Christ and establish justice, righteousness and long-term stability.
- The Lord’s protection from death for those most vulnerable, such as pregnant women, children and elderly people.