I usually emphasize that the beauty of your home is not just about the house itself, but also about the entire neighborhood. In several places in Addis, I see finely built houses, ground plus ones, twos, and more, that appear out of place in the neighborhood.
The moment you step away from the houses, the next thing you see is a reminder of the country’s true and widespread living conditions. It is impossible to avoid the sight of poverty. In fact, the view from your residence may primarily consist of people living in deplorable conditions.
So I’d rather live in a modest house in a neighborhood with modest living conditions than in a grand house with considerably worse living conditions than mine.
I feel guilty and ashamed for enjoying a reasonably “luxurious” existence in the midst of individuals who are financially disadvantaged and cannot afford even the most basic needs like food and shelter.
There is no location in Addis, and indeed throughout Ethiopia, where people can live without observing the pain and deprivation that many of our residents face on a daily basis. It makes no difference if you live in the most expensive housing estate in the capital city.
The instant you leave your house and area, the harsh truth sets in.
Have you observed an increase in the number of beggars on the streets of the capital? Or have I become more sensitive to seeing them as I’ve gotten older?
I believe we have reached a stage where we cannot escape observing the increasing prevalence of poverty in the city and the country as a whole, whether we commute in private cars, public transportation, or by foot.
At traffic stops, the number of beggars is unusually high. At every stoplight in the city, there is a swarm of beggars surrounding cars. Women with children, in particular, are the most difficult to observe. Especially the little children hanging on their backs, and even toddlers who should have been under the watchful supervision of their parents.
It breaks my heart to watch those little kids with their feet dangling under the blanket on their mothers’ backs. What did they do to earn this treatment?
And for those of us who are lucky enough to enjoy a relatively “good” existence, seeing the agony of others living on the streets dims our enthusiasm for life.
Teenagers who should have been in school are addicted to drugs, and watching them run about aimlessly on the streets is heartbreaking.
Can we blame them for abusing substances?
I am curious if those in authority see these people as they race around the city in their gleaming black four-wheelers and automobiles. And I am curious about what they think if they see them. I am curious if it’s painful for them to witness that.
I wonder if they see their obligations in whatever sorrow exists in the city and throughout the country, or if they want to avoid responsibility by blaming others.
It’s no surprise that foreign high-level officials visiting the city and country are forced to enter the metropolis at breakneck speed!
They are not exposed to the gloomy realities of our country and are only exposed to the city’s high-rise buildings and well-lit streets, which by no means represent even 0.1 percent of the country.
In fact, I wonder if those high-ranking officials from wealthy countries, as well as those from impoverished countries like ours, believe the sugar coating in this country.