Adigrat is a beautiful city. Set in a valley in the protective shadow of imposing table mountains, in which are hidden the rock-hewn churches that make Tigray famous, it sparkles. It sparkles through the friendship of its people and the warmth of their smile, through the lush green fields under the dazzling sky after the summer rainy season, through the domes of its churches glinting in the sun.
The city is growing. A new university campus with engineering and medical buildings was completed in 2017 just behind our centre. The students arrive to what has traditionally been a predominantly farming community, the inhabitants growing their crops and letting their cattle out to graze on an arid and stony landscape, relying on two short rainy seasons each year. Today, though, banks, shops and hotels are opening up on every street and smart suited businessmen join farmers sitting outside in the town’s coffee houses. The coffee is superb.
There is still poverty and life can be tough for those who live in the small villages clinging precariously to the steep slopes around Adigrat. With a population of over 150,000, the city has a high proportion of young people but there are few youth facilities and local schools are crowded. It is in this scenario that Bruh Tesfa works, aiming to provide a haven where children can be children and a centre that will support their learning and help them achieve their potential, no matter the obstacles in their way.
Situated just off the well-worn tourist road between Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, and the historic city of Axum: if you’re ever passing, do come and visit!