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Postcards from Ethiopia: An extraordinary woman

By Marilee Pierce Dunker
Oct 16, 2013
Courtesy Marilee Pierce Dunker
Marilee, right, with the woman who defied obstacles to become a successful farmer in Antsokia Valley, Ethiopia.

January 2003, Antsokia Valley

I met an extraordinary woman today! Her husband died during the great famine of the 1980s, leaving her with several children to raise and a large plot of sun-baked earth to farm.

Despite the initial distain of many in her community who believed that a woman should not own property or work the fields like a man, she plowed and planted and labored tirelessly to bring the dead earth back to life. When World Vision brought water and began classes on soil restoration and crop rotation, she was one of the first to sign up.

After a few years of hard work, her fields were green, her trees were fruitful, her children were thriving, and she was accepted as a respected leader in the community.

As a thank you for all she has done to support our efforts, World Vision recently installed a water spigot just a few yards away from her house to make it easier for her to water her orchard. She took great joy in showing me how she now has water any time she needs it.

Watching the gnarled hands turn the spigot I asked if she had plans to retire soon and let her children take care of her. I didn’t need a translator to understand her answer.

“This is my land!” she declared, her words ringing with the pride of her achievement.

“And as long as I live, I will take care of it!”

Marilee serves World Vision, the organization her father, Bob Pierce, founded in 1950. Like him, she travels the world, witnessing and fulfilling God’s mandate to care for the poor. Request Marilee to speak.