Ethiopia: Coffee Farm Community Project October 16-29, 2011
Schedule 10.16 Leave CLT 10.17 Arrived at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 10.18 Delayed: Survey equipment being held at airport 10.19 Addis > Jimma > Bench-marking Coffee farm > Gera 10.20 Site Visit 10.21 - 25 Work days 10.26 Presentation 10.27-28 R&R; Ethiopia > CLT 10.29 Home
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13 ESV)
If there is a verse to summarize my personal experience in Ethiopia, it’d be this verse from Acts. There is nothing in me that is worthwhile for this trip and/or for His Kingdom except for the fact that Jesus has chosen me for His divine reasons and providence. For this, I’m both in awe and immensely thankful. Eight hours southeast of Addis Ababa and two hours away from Jimma (origin of coffee), our project is located in a small town called Gera. The project -- as I know it before the trip -- is to master plan a coffee farm and a housing community for the workers and his/her family. The heart behind the business is to provide persecuted Christian families with a job, a home, and a community.
However, upon our arrival, Peter, our ministry contact who has the vision to reach out to the whole community, asked us to also design a community youth center at the town mayor’s request. So, here we were, day-and-a-half behind schedule since our survey equipment was being withheld at customs, had a 750-acre site to survey, a housing community of 250 families and a coffee farm to master plan, a whole new trade about processing coffee beans to learn, and a community youth center to design all within a week. Needless to say, we dove right to work. Our team consists of Trevis, our project leader, three architects (including myself), two civil engineers (water/wasterwater and road/drain-
age), three interns who are our surveyors, and a graphic/marketing designer. With the add-on of the youth center to our scope, lead architect John asked if I’d be willing to take the lead on the youth center. I recognized this was best for the team, so I accepted -- but only reluctantly. We met the town mayor the next day (Thursday) at his office. He looked young, very shy and soft-spoken, and shook our hands with a smile. As we set around the table in his office, he took out a government document which outlined the architectural program for all regional youth center. It has a main room, administrative offices, a couple classrooms, a library, an I.T. room, a game room, a cafe, and other auxiliary spaces. After the meeting, we walked over
to the site which was adjacent to the mayor’s office. Kids were playing in the fields. The football and open fields next to the building site will remain as is. People from the surrounding neighborhoods were coming from different directions and cutting through the site to their destinations. If nothing else, the site is already a hub where people come and go everyday. Recognizing this pattern, I decide that the best approach to the youth center is to break up the building to harness the pedestrian flow and to create more gathering spaces for those who are already passing by everyday. It also works well with phasing since the town doesn’t currently have the finance to build everything at once. Two days later, we sat at the mayor’s office again to present our design.
Eight hours southeast of Addis Ababa and two hours away from Jimma (origin of coffee), our project is located in a small town called Gera.
We often don’t know how God will use us in different circumstances. This unexpected turn of designing the youth center is a test to my servanthood. Prior to the trip, my heart was set on the community project. In retrospect, God has prepared me for this exact moment. At Visioneering Studios (my work), we design spaces with very similar functions and purposes for communities. This is obviously not a surprise to God as it is to me. Through this incident, I’ve (re-)learned to follow the Master’s lead rather than my own desire. And with that, I hope that God will use the youth center to change the lives of many Ethiopian youths who struggle to find work, who needs counsel, and are seeking a purpose to their lives.
While I was working on the youth center, the coffee project is moving along well. Out of the 750-acre site, we were only able to walk through one third of it. The thick bushes and dense forest made surveying difficult. I was amazed how the Ethiopian workers were able to map out different areas of the site, its prominent features, and document areas which had been cleared and planted without any technical equipment.
tion of the youth center on Saturday, I rejoined John and Megan on this and was assigned to the comunnity-link piece.
The next couple days went by fairly quickly. Each morning, I’d wake up at six to go for a run. Being already high up on the mountain, it didn’t take too much to reach the top. At around 8 a.m., we’d have devotions and breakfast to kick start our day. Though we began with being behind schedule, we caught up and preThe master plan has three major components: sented our design on Wednesday morning as Coffee production which accounts for the ma- planned. It was well received. The next step for jority of the site, first-phase housings and com- us is to make necessary revisions and finish up munity for the workers, and public amenities our drawings as the ministry raises support to which serves the community. After the presenta- make the project becomes a reality.
First Phase Area
- Housings - Seedling area - Administrative space
Permanent Housing Units Administration Building
- Pulping machine - Drying beds - Processing - Weighing stations & Storage
Water Collection System
- Units for permanent workers - Units of seasonal workers
Community Link - Meeting Hall - Clinic - Primary School - Playing field
First Phase Master Plan
While I am tremendously thankful to be part of this and be able to serve our Ethiopian brothers and sisters, I am also grateful for those who have served us during our time there and all of you who have prayed and supported me on this journey. Again and again, I am reminded that we are all children of the same Father. in Him, Phyllis
Coffee Farm Community Project trip report