Ethiopia: The Giving Community

From a young age, I felt drawn to Africa.

I loved learning about Africa through any means I could. From 2018 to 2020, I spent two amazing years living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I learned many things in Ethiopia through the culture and the youth.

words + photographs TAMMY SALMON

Ethiopia is a community-focused culture, which means the group/community is valued more than the individual. It’s an attitude deep within Ethiopian culture: I help others, and when I am in need, someone else will help me. In the culture this is frequently seen in strangers helping others. For example, if you are crossing the street but don’t see danger coming, someone will stop you from crossing. Another common example is if a mother is lifting her baby up on public transportation, someone will put a hand on the baby’s head to prevent the child from hitting his/her head. In addition, it’s common for people not related to children to help them on and off public transportation. These examples may seem simple, but they are common, daily occurrences in Ethiopia.

I went to serve, but I feel my life was changed more than all the helping I could do. I miss Ethiopia very much, and I believe one day I will return.

Also, many Ethiopians are generous with their time and money to help others. One case in point is Mekedonia, a volunteer-run program caring for the elderly. Many volunteers move to Mekedonia to live full time to volunteer there. Ethiopia doesn’t have a social service system. Needs are met through caring individuals who step up to meet needs from Ethiopia and around the world. Some of these are nonprofit organizations, while others are ministries with faith-based affiliations.

Samri is making coffee,” says Tammy Salmon. “Both of her parents died young, and she is caring for her brothers. She is such an inspiration.” FEATURED IMAGE ABOVE Tammy Salmon is pictured on the right of Jossy, one of the Abinet youth. He wants to be an architect.

ABOVE Samri, Tammy Salmon, and Samri’s brother Abenezer, who is a worship leader.

LEFT Sami, Helen, Hannah, Surafel, Abigail, Esias, and Jossy, who are part of what Tammy Salmon refers to as the “Abinet youth.”

The Abinet youth, ages 15-26, is a group of young people coming from poor families. I call them the “Abinet youth” because that is the part of the city they are from; they are not part of any formal organization. These youth are creative problem solvers, who are eager to help and serve, are hard working, loving, and are hopeful the future will be a better place. From the youth, I saw such a desire to serve and help others. They know what it is like to have nothing and be hungry, but they have God and each other. The youth carry a selfless love for God. Many of them stay up all night praying. They share God’s love with others. They inspire me to be more like Jesus in all I do. I am so encouraged by their lives, and my hope is I will grow as a person in how I show love for others. I am so thankful for my time in Ethiopia. I went to serve, but I feel my life was changed more than all the helping I could do. I miss Ethiopia very much, and I believe one day I will return. TS

While living in Springfield, Missouri, Tammy Salmon studied social work at Evangel University, but she had always felt called to missions in Africa. She is currently serving in Uganda with Soterion Church/Abaana Project. If you would like to give monetarily to support Tammy, you can donate through ($Tammy20214).

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