Estranged People

New Charitable Partnership

I am happy announce that Ethiopia Judaica is now partnering with ESCO, described below. Any donations received through this site will go directly to assisting with their projects, which directly affect the Bete Israel people that this site was started to help.

The products that we sell here will still benefit individuals and their families of the Bete Israel community. A small purchase here can have a big impact in Ethiopia. For example, the sale of a $25 tapestry provides rent for a family for one month!  

El-Shaddai Charity Organization (ESCO) is a registered non-government and non-profit organization established to implement social projects that benefit the impoverished community in Ethiopia. The living standard of most people is beyond imagination. As was mentioned in previous blog articles, Ethiopia Judaica's mission is to assist those Ethiopians of Jewish descent. Many of their leaders and rabbis left for Israel in the first and second Exodus (1984 & 1991), so it is wonderful to have a trusted partner in Ethiopia to share our work with.
The biggest threat to the Ethiopian Jews is disease. In the Gondar region, most diseases are caused or complicated by the scarcity of clean, safe drinking water. People of all ages can get very sick from water borne diseases, but children under 5 years old are at the highest risk of death.

Scarcity of clean water also causes other hardships. Women do not have the chance to go to school because they are the collectors of water for their family and they spend much of the day walking to distant rivers and springs. Time and energy spent hauling water from great distances could be used much more productively farming or creating products such as what you see on this website. The availability of clean and safe water could bring more life opportunities to these people.

ESCO has made it a priority to provide clean, safe, water to people in rural Ethiopia; they have already implemented five water projects. Sponsoring water projects is saving the lives of people while also improving the quality of their lives! Apart from this project ESCO also provides free training programs to Ethiopian Jews. There are different fields of short term training that can change the life of these people in a positive manner. Many girls dropout of school, and are forced into prostitution just to survive or support their family. They risk unwanted pregnancies and many are exposed to HIV/AIDS. ESCO's programs provide the Ethiopian Jews with life skills, technical and vocational training. This means that they can make healthy, moral decisions and achieve employment in the fast growing private and social sectors of the economy.

Please consider making a donation to either of these ESCO projects with the donate button. Please include a message specifying which project you want to support through the PayPal page.

Ethiopian Water Resources

Safe drinking water is a problem throughout all of Ethiopia, causing an estimated 80% of the health problems there.

It is no different for the Jewish communities. A study done just a year ago on the Bete Israel community in Addis showed that the top ten diseases were water-related.  

Most water is purchased from someone. Ethiopians also collect rain water during the rainy season. Very few Ethiopians have access to get water from municipal sources or wells. None of the Ethiopian Jews that we saw had running water in their home.

This water is used in food preparation and for cleaning. The water is stored in buckets, and retrieved by a bowl or pitcher to wash hands or use in cooking or cleaning.

The majority of households use public pit latrines that are located in the vicinity of the rented houses, many use open field excreta and a very small percent use public toilets (a hole in the ground with a tank to flush away waste). I did not ask to take pictures of their latrines or waste fields, but did take this picture of a public toilet the second and last time I ever used one. Fortunately the clinic that we stayed in had a western style toilet.

Their Kitchens

When I went into the dwellings of the Bete Israel I saw a number of things that almost  all of them had for in their “kitchen” area; two burners, one gas and one coal, a tea pot in which to boil water, a clay coffee pot in which to steep coffee, a small pan with lid that “whet” is cooked and stored in,  a cabinet, a plastic coffee tray that holds small coffee cups, several large , lidded plastic buckets for storing (and catching when it rains) water, a large plastic bowl and cup for washing of hands, and 2 ingera baskets, one for fermenting dough and one for baked ingera.
This is a typical “kitchen area”. In the middle are the two “stoves” that everyone has, a gas burner and a coal burner, on top of the coal burner is the  “whet” pan, staying warm for the next meal.  A little to the left is the tea pot, used for morning and afternoon tea snack. Behind the burners is a typical cabinet and to the left of that is an ingera basket with ingera dough fermenting in it.  To the right of the cabinet is an ingera basket with ready to eat ingera in it. The Pringles can was where they stored the coffee in this home.
The diet of the Bete Israel is very simple. It consists of  mainly “ingera”, “whet” and tea. My topic next week will describe these in a little more detail.