Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Across the street from us was hundreds of sacks of charcoal. It is locally produced in the countryside and hauled out to the main road on the backs of youths. The communities around had stacked it all up and were waiting for an Isuzu to come by and purchase it, to haul to Addis Ababa.

It is an organized group and after having someone guard the stack for days and nights, an Isuzu truck never stopped and so the stack needed to be moved. 

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Again, on the backs of youth.  The man in the gray jacket kept track of how many bags of charcoal each individual carried.

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Zodea, our thirteen-year-old neighbor, who weighs about 70 pounds maximum, was being loaded up.

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She kept asking for more until she had three on her back. Each bag weighs 18 kilos (about 39 pounds). That’s 117 pounds each trek down the road.

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A neighbor woman, who just had a baby also hauled three at a time.

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She carried four, 156 pounds.

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In this picture you can see the line down the road.  As kids got back from school, some dropped their notebooks and signed up to haul.

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This is probably half the stack that is left.

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These are strong, strong women. Each bag that was carried was reimbursed by one birr. (about $0.045) 

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This sweetie, Habtay, watched as her mother hauled with her little sister (19 months) strapped on her back. I guess it’s early training for big loads on little bodies.  

After talking to Zodae later, she hauled 42 bags, at 39 pounds each and made 42 birr. 


Shari Fiechter said...

42 birr is $1.93! I admire your neighbors (even the children) who are so willing to do hard, difficult labor for such meager pay. Sigh...

smw said...


Kristen Hoerr said...

wow. this is crazy!

Kristi said...

whoa! Unbelievable.

leah said...

oh my goodness. that is crazy (& impressive!).