I increasingly realize that at its core, everything revolves around people. When I read the Bible I see that our God is a God who cares about people. I am also increasingly realizing that projects are fun, but that they only have value if the people are central.
That is also the main reason why we decided some time ago that we wanted to invest in people. When we were in Ethiopia for the first time more than six months ago, we were also allowed to invest in people, even if only on a small scale. I think back to 17-year-old Negesse who just started at Maranatha as a tractor driver in training. I can still see him driving straight forward and backward on the old Fendt tractor within the fences of the farm. He had already learned the first steps from other Dutch people who had helped on the project. He knew that if he became a good tractor driver, he would always be able to find a job and that is a great privilege here.
When we were young we learned the principles of steering on go-karts and with toy cars, but Negesse did not have this. Straight forwards and backwards worked quite well, but in the beginning I had to drive myself if there was any real work to be done with the tractor. However, you could tell Negesse wanted to learn it; he wanted to be a good tractor driver and I had to teach him! I am not the most experienced tractor driver myself, but I was able to get by on this tractor. More and more often I trusted Negesse and let him drive while I sat on the fender to help him. Sometimes things went (almost) wrong and we had to be very patient. Yet you saw improvement and even when things went a bit slower on a day, Negesse wanted to continue. When we left for Uganda, Negesse was even able to do some work on his own.
A few days ago we had an appointment with a potential customer of our project. It was a few miles from Maranatha Farm. We were waiting outside the fence along the road when a green dot appeared in the distance. As the spot came closer we recognized Maranatha’s big new tractor and as it passed us we saw Negesse driving it. When he saw us he waved with both hands and smiled happily. Negesse has become a professional!