Ethiopia Facts — Three Unique Characteristics Featuring The Letter C!

When many people think of Ethiopia, they think of the ancient archaeological finds, the bustling city of Addis Ababa where life is lived on the streets, or the rock-cut Christian churches of Lalibela still standing since the 12th–13th centuries. But, keep reading…here are a few things you may not know:


Many of us rely on that first cup of coffee to get us going. We have Ethiopia to thank for this! As the story goes, a long, long time ago, a goat herder saw his flock eating a certain plant, after which they were noticeably more energetic. He gave the fruit a nibble himself…and the coffee industry was born.




Many cultures have their own calendars instead of the Western Gregorian calendar. And most follow the ’12 months to a year format. Not Ethiopia! Each year in the Ethiopian calendar has 12 months with 30 days. The last month, called “Pagume,” has five days (or six on leap years.) Ethiopia computed the birth of Jesus Christ believing that Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden for seven years, and therefore, Ethiopia has a different year than the Gregorian calendar, as well. They’re seven years behind, so this year in the United States is 2022. In Ethiopia, it’s only 2015.



Finally, Ethiopia, Africa’s oldest independent country, is the only country in Africa that has never been colonized. On March first, almost 125 years ago, an army of civilians defended themselves against the Italians thereby allowing Ethiopia to be recognized as an independent state. During World War II, Italy again occupied Ethiopia but never established control.

There are so many reasons to love Ethiopia! Today’s blog post is a quick tour of a few of the MANY special characteristics that shape Ethiopia.

Winter Olympics and Ethiopia?

Ethiopia has a nearly 70-year history with the summer Olympic games, having first participated in 1956. Over the years Ethiopia has won 55 medals in summer Olympic games, all in long-distance “athletics” or running events. This is likely no surprise… Ethiopia is well-known as a country with many exceptionally talented and gifted distance runners.

But it wasn’t until 2006 that Ethiopia first joined in the winter games in Toronto, Canada. Ethiopia then participated in the winter games again in Turin, Italy in 2010. The same athlete, Robel Teklemariam, a cross-country skier, participated in both games but did not medal. You can read a little more about Robel in Tadias Magazine

This year Ethiopia does not have a delegate in Beijing. Do you think Ethiopia will be represented in 2026 in Italy? We sure hope so!

Sewasew on Art, Nature, and Connection

Welcome to our first Ethiopian artist feature! Each artist has donated their artwork for our Threadless Shop. This generosity is so important for our mission, and it brings beautiful and original Ethiopian art into your home in a unique and fun way!  Visit our shop on Threadless to view (and buy!) this amazing artist’s artwork! Continue reading “Sewasew on Art, Nature, and Connection”

Meet Jonah, an 12-Year-Old Crocheting Prodigy and Budding Philanthropist

At just 12 years old, Jonah Faiso Larson has already mastered the art of crocheting and opened his own crochet business, Jonah’s Hands.

It began when Jonah was just five years old. His aunt gave him a bag of old craft items and Jonah was immediately drawn to the crochet needle. After watching hundreds of YouTube videos, Jonah picked up the talent and was “hooked.” Now, Jonah crochets each morning and evening, creating anything from scarves, to potholders, to bags, and ornaments. Jonah has developed his crochet skill and is often called a crochet prodigy.

But it’s Jonah’s philanthropy that’s garnered national recognition. Jonah uses his talents to donate some of his goods and earnings to organizations he holds dear. Roots Ethiopia was fortunate enough to receive several of Jonah’s most prized pieces – some of the very first projects he ever crocheted when he was just five years old. He donated them to be sold in Roots Ethiopia’s online store during our annual “Upcycle Sale” so that profits can support our programs. In 2019 Jonah started a GoFundMe campaign and generously gave $9,300 to begin work on “Jonah’s Library” near the place he was born. Later, he invited Anthropologie to donate $5k to help create Jonah’s Science Lab at the same school! The library is finished, and the science lab is undergoing construction as of February 2020. It is an honor and a privilege to work with Jonah. We love the talent of both is hands and his heart.

We’re proud to work with such an aspiring young artist, and we’re so grateful to Jonah for his continued support and generosity. Keep up the great work, Jonah!

To learn more about Jonah’s Library, you might want to catch his debut on NBC’s Little Big Shots! We surprised him with a video welcome from students at the school! You can hear Jonah’s story here.  Minute 22.37 is the start of Jonah’s segment. (We’re not crying, you’re crying! It’s very emotional!).

To support Jonah’s work, we are grateful for any gifts made to It’s All Big To A Kid. Gifts made this this campaign will be dedicated to work at the “orange” school, which is Jonah’s favorite color.

2017: Year in Review

Dear friends, 

The past 12 months have been amazing for Roots Ethiopia. Our team has been hard at work to support local ideas for lasting change. You have made this a year of growth and excellence.  As always, we could not have accomplished our work without your support. We have put together a list of ways YOU have made a difference – add a touch of coffee, some very long days on the road to remote villages, and a dedicated team, and 2017 is a year to remember. We are so grateful for your enduring support!

Happy New Year,
Roots Ethiopia

Learning Resource Projects:

3 NEW in 2017

Highlights from our team:
  • Wanja Primary School is a woman-led School in Halaba.
  • 500 textbooks purchased for Ewoqet Chora Primary School’s first EVER library.
  • Over 18,000 students and their families have enriched learning opportunities as part of their continued partnership with Roots Ethiopia.

1 VIP Latrine

(Ventilated Improved Pit)
with Menstrual Changing Room for Adolescent Girls


170 Students Attending School

with a
Roots Ethiopia School Sponsorship

Highlights from our team:

  • All children received backpacks, uniforms and school supplies, and they LOVED the SpongeBob backpacks this year.
  • We rented a truck and delivered grain to all the families in our program.
  • We listened to a lot of the hopes and dreams the children have for their futures, and we encouraged them to dream BIG!

3 Special Needs Classrooms:

2 NEW in 2017

Highlights from our team:

  • Haile Bubamo Special Education classroom received special education toys for children to learn while playing.
  • 10 children at Wanja Primary School were added to the Special Education roster.
  • A classroom of 18 students in Halaba is now part of our program. There will be a daily snack and transportation to school added as a pilot program here.

60 New Women-Led Businesses

for 3 new Self-Help Entrepreneurs peer savings groups (SHE)

Highlights from our team:
  • Women in our new Usmancho SHE are very motivated to build a strong team for learning and sharing.
  • The growth of SHE in Halaba Kulito  means more women have joined our successful work there and have many successful mentors.


1 Office in Addis Ababa
NGO License &  Country Director
*you are welcome to visit us in Hiya Hulet*

3 Teacher Training Programs

Highlights from our team:

  • 2 professional teacher training for science teachers. Over 80 teachers trained in a University setting to help them create a hands-on science curriculum for their students.
  • 1 professional teacher training held in Addis Ababa for 4 special education teachers.
and more ….
Thanks for being part of our journey to support community-identified solutions for education and job creation in Ethiopia. We are ready for 2018!


The Roots Ethiopia Team

Back to School: Sizo in September!

In just a few weeks Ethiopian children will return to school. Playgrounds will be full of girls playing “sizo”.

How about these games, from the book “The World of Girls and Boys in Rural and Urban Ethiopia” edited by Eva Poluha? Have you ever heard of  Kuku or Dibibikosh? Leba Ena Police? Or Erkus?

Playground Games

It’s back to school week for so many children this week too. We wish all the kids a wonderful week of learning and play!

In Honor of Fathers Around the World

“Dad” in English, “Abaye” (አባዬ) in Amharic. A word anchored in love, no matter where you are in the world. Dads know the most important gift they give their children is love. We want to introduce you to a couple of Dads. 

Meet Teshome, a father of three and a school teacher, spending time after work with his 3 and 6 year old children. Teshome is a guiding presence in the lives of his children and his students.teshome

Meet Yosef, and his small son. Yosef’s son lights up when his daddy walks into the room and lifts his son into his arms.

In Ethiopia, our colleagues and team members share that being a father in an under-resourced country can be challenging. Many parents, especially in rural Ethiopia, struggle to provide basic support and education for their children. But, they tell us, fathers know that their children need love more than anything. Fathers in Ethiopia, and fathers all around the world, strive to provide love and support for their children’s futures.

Happy Father’s Day to all the great Dads doing their best out in the world today!