Trip to Abono Gabriel

Staying in Shashamane is always a pleasure because of the constant encounters with smiling children.  Some of them take me by the hand and they want to kiss it, thinking that I am a priest.  Undoubtedly, their smile is heart-warming.

In the morning, after a brief visit to the Women’s Promotion Center, it’s time to depart for Abono Gabriel which is located at a distance of 107 km north of Shashamane.  The trip is about 2 hours long because of the traffic and the police checks along the road.  Fortunately, when the police see foreigners on board, they let us pass quickly.

On board we have Abu (our historic driver who now is always with Andrea, who has difficulty walking and accompanies him everywhere), Robi Etiope (who helps Andrea when he has to walk), and Abiti (who is a pillar of the GMA community in Ethiopia).

The always interesting trip is made more beautiful by the blooming of the Delonix Regia with its flamboyant bright red flowers which are an anthem to strength and joy.  Because of the rain, the Jacaranda trees have not flowered much and their usually explosive violet colors are now just peeking out in the midst of all the greenery. 

Andrea, with his moral strength, is always happy and full of good ideas on how to implement new projects in Ethiopia.

Having arrived in Abono, we were greeted by the greenery of the first reforestation project and the Ethiopian young people soon called this place “the forest”.  The reason for Andrea’s visit was to check the solar panel system and inspect the repair works performed by a local company.  The first good news was that both the direction and the inclination of the solar panels was perfect.  A second check was made on the electrical grounding of the plant and this was also ok.  The last checks were made on the inverter and the electrical panel.  After having tested with appropriate equipment, everything was found to be ok.  Andrea’s only suggestion was to install some circuit breakers to protect against lightning or power surges.  This is something simple and not very expensive to accomplish.  The only thing left to do now is to construct a small enclosure to contain the inverter which is currently housed in a tin shack.  Today the shack harbors mice which are attracted by the heat and chew on the electrical wires (during the night the solar panels do not produce electricity).  The day was a real eye-opener by Andrea (a 41-year-old electronic engineer) who always cheerfully made himself available to collaborate with us and provide expert advice on the solar panel system.  He is extremely competent, professional, and has a big heart and immense strength to fight against adversity.  Andrea inspires me to never give up when faced with difficulties and, instead, to tackle them with a smile.  Thanks for this wonderful message of hope.