Over the summer of 2018, we were approached by the founder of Roots Ethiopia, Meghan Walsh, to help provide travel gear to her local field staff. Roots Ethiopia is a 501(c)3 that directly works with communities to provide school sponsorships for children, develops self-help groups for successful small women’s businesses, and builds learning resource projects to improve the quality of education in impoverished schools. After speaking with Meghan, we realized that the Discovery Convertible Jacket and the Traveler’s Convertible Jacket would best prepare the local Ethiopian staff for the varied weather with the cold, wet season, and even the hot days as they work within the rural villages to support small businesses and schools.
Some of the Roots Ethiopia staff in Addis, preparing to leave for field work and meet up with the field team.
Meghan Walsh wrote the following to explain the reaction of her staff when she surprised them with the Royal Robbins gear.
First, let me tell you that Ethiopia is a land of great dynamic landscape, a place where one can encounter several unique ecosystems in the course of a 5 hour drive. The area where we work is a 4 hour drive from the capitol city, Addis Ababa. It is very rural and over 86% of the people who live there are farmers who farm on less than 1 hectare (about 2.5 acres). The crops include corn, sorghum, onions, peppers, potatoes, cabbage, wheat, greens, and a unique grain called Teff (used to make a traditional flat bread in Ethiopia called “injera”). Mangoes, avocado, papaya, lemons, and other fruit grow in the area, as does ginger.
Director, Desta, checking the local Teff grain for healthy and robust growth. Many of the families rely on a good harvest season for their health and well-being.
The weather can be warm, cold, windy, and dry, all in one day. And, because our field staff are local people who live and work in the communities we serve, they have very little access to quality gear. Field gear is their #1 request — shoes, jackets, raincoats, fleece, socks, backpacks, solar chargers. are common requests. And, we try our best to respond to these needs, as they simply cannot fulfill them in their local markets. Even city markets they might access has very little quality gear, and it is so expensive that it is not even possible for our team.
This is why when I opened the luggage with jackets the team was delighted! We had a mini fashion show immediately. And then, for the entire week, the jackets were worn with sleeves on, sleeves off, depending on the time of day and the weather. In the morning, sleeves on. In the middle of the day, sleeves off. At night, sleeves on again. Inside every pocket notebooks, pens, and cell phones were tucked to use to document our work.
My teammate Teshome said, “Please, tell this company we are most happy!” My teammate Mekdes said, “Oh! These are so nice and I like the pockets!” Our Country Director, Desta, commented, “These are very very nice. We will be more comfortable every day because of this good quality jacket.”