Last weekend I found myself standing in front of more than 50 members of the Limalimo community. We were all marking the official start of construction at Limalimo Lodge, and everyone was very excited.
Melakesbhate, who is the head of the church in the Limalimo community, stood up and gave a long speech in support of the project. “We are all are very happy for this project happing!” he shouted.
The head of the local community association (known as a “Kebele” in Ethiopia) was also enthusiastic. “I am sure we, the community, will work very hard with the owners for the success of this project… this lodge investment is really very good opportunity for us all.”
Even the world famous Gelada Monkeys came to have a look!
The next day, we went back up to start the building. Tweadaj Tigabu (who is pictured in the photo above) is a general laborer on the site. She is 23 years old, and lives in Limalimo. “This is very good for the community,” she told me as she threw her pick-axe into the ground. I’m so proud that men and women from the community are participating in the construction.
Over the course of the next year, more than 200 people will be involved in building Limalimo Lodge. Most of these workers will be from the surrounding community of Limalimo, but when necessary specialists from Debark, Gondar and Addis will join the team.
With support from African Wildlife Capital and African Wildlife Foundation, the lodge will open in September 2015. I’m confident that the investment will bring tangible benefits to the Limalimo community, create long-term, sustainable conservation practices in the Simien Mountains, and give a better place to tourists to enjoy the beauty of this wonderful place.
Shiferaw Asrat is the Chief Executive Officer of Limalimo Lodge. He was brought up in Debark and comes from a family long involved in the Ethiopian National Parks.
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