Neat Little Piles

Neat little piles.  That’s the first thing you notice about the makeshift vegetable saleswomen whose shop is simply a tarp laid along the road with small piles of tomatoes, onions and potatoes for sale.  It is an art form to stack vegetables that neatly and not have them topple – a balancing act of simple marketing that makes them quite pleasing to the eye.

The second thing you notice is the price – typically 1 or 2 ETB (6 – 12 cents) for one of these piles of vegetables.  It is enough to leave a bit of profit margin, a tiny bit.

I have often wondered (as I have walked past thousands of women with these little piles over the past couple of years) what life is like for one of these women who buy their product from a middle man, sit in the sun all day long (and into the evening at times) and go home to do it all over again the next day.  All day long they are exposed to the elements of dust, exhaust and sun as they sit and wait for customers, who themselves are typically poor – too poor to go to the vegetable vendor who has higher quality product that he is selling by the kilogram.

Now, I have a bit better idea of what life is like for some of these vegetable sellers – at least for one of them.  One of the newest moms to enter into the project is a vegetable seller.  She sells small piles of potatoes along the roadside – with her two children – day after day after day.  Her two children are 6 months and 2 years old.  Her husband is no longer in the picture after he left the family because of economic problems – leaving them totally to care for themselves.  So, her income is whatever she receives from these neat little piles that she sells.

And, her income is not much.  Perhaps the best way to tell her income is to consider what she feeds her children after selling vegetables day after day. When she came to the project her children had eaten 2 potatoes between them and the water they were cooked in over the previous 2 days.  Yep, 1 small potato each over 48 hours.  Now, if that is what her children ate, then I would have to guess that means that Mom had eaten nothing during those days – because moms here make sure their children have long before they have anything.   This is what survival looks like.

Now, thanks to faithful supporters, these same 2 kids are getting 2 nutritious meals per day and also some fruit.  Mom is also coming to breastfeed the 6 month old every day which means she is getting a nutritious meal, too, so that she can continue to produce milk for her baby and get healthy herself.  And, when her 2 year old got really sick a couple of weeks ago, there was the ability to get good health care for her and now she is doing well.  Mom is still selling neat little piles for now…but with a new hope and a new outlook.

We are literally seeing aspects of transformation in this family’s life, right before our eyes.  It is beautiful, but in the end it all began with this mom who loved her kids so much that she did whatever she could to try to help them make it.  Her love is fierce.  And our hope along the way is that we’ll get to introduce her to The One who defines what fierce love looks like – the One whose love never gives up, never quits and is eternally expressed radically and sacrificially.

If you would be interested in friending this family and coming alongside of them – helping us to partner with them financially as well as prayerfully –  please drop us an email at  You also can view their information as well as another 12 families for whom we are seeking sponsors at

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