Awera Amba is a newly established community in rural western Ethiopia. This is a relatively new culture in which care for one another is considered as a sole faith and works as the main way of life. Awera Amba includes 96 households and close to 400 people. There is no job that is divided based on sex which is exactly the opposite of what is being practiced elsewhere in Ethiopia. According to the existing traditions in Ethiopia, house chores such as cooking, rearing kids and taking care of the sick and elderly are strictly left for women. At Awera Amba, services such as nursing care and providing basic necessities for elderly and disabled members of the community are accomplished by rotating assigned members of the community to fulfill these duties with no payment.
Awera Amba has attracted many visitors including international groups involved in humanitarian and development work in Ethiopia and elsewhere. Awera Amba is also functioning informally as a model for other communities throughout Ethiopia.
Addisu Abebe and Alula Kebede reached Zumera Mehamed, the leader of the community, over the phone. Zumera, age 54, was the sole founder of Awera Amba and was single handedly responsible for promoting the principles of equality between the two sexes. His philosophy of hard work and education as the basis for this much needed change developed for over thirty-five years before he finally succeeded in establishing his community four to five years ago. But the paradox is that he himself has no formal education whatsoever, and he neither reads nor writes any written language. Despite this, he has inspired hundreds already to follow his ways. Included in his followers are several popular singers who dedicate and sing songs exclusively on his new philosophy. Apparently the music seems to have duplicating effects in inspiring others to do the same.
(Click on the links above to hear an interview with Zumera Mehamed)