February 2023: Ethiopia / Lalibela: Pilgrimage Week of Blessing, part#2

Peaceful encounters also in the spirit of PBF

 Part 2 of the report of Abebe Zewdu

This year Peter Bachmann is also with us. He has been accompanying this great feast with us for a good sixteen years. He is held in the highest esteem by countless people here for his tireless work for the needy in our city of Lalibela and its surroundings. That is why Peter is known to everyone. I know of no home where PBF’s work is not tangible, not felt and highly recognised.

Together with Getachew Sale, the youngest PhD student in all of Ethiopia, Peter landed in Lalibela by plane from Addis Ababa. He brought full suitcases from Switzerland with knitted woollen items for the people.  After a warm welcome – after a good five years – by our team, a drive to the higher altitude of Lalibela and the hotel check-in, the first activities began immediately.

“Pearl” on the steep path from the south

The visit to the Amanuel Pilgrim Village, now called “Pearl”, was the first stop after Peter and Getachew arrived. The road comes steeply up from the south to Lalibela and is one of the most frequented pilgrimage routes. Here, a tent roof providing shade awaits the people and invites them to wash their feet and eat, injera with shiro wot, drinking water and bread. These are the first impressive events for Peter. By the last day of the festival, after five days, around 20,000 people are said to have passed by this place, including priests and monks from far away. Peter is very present, has the pilgrims’ routes explained to him and hears about the hardships, but also about wonderful events that have taken place along the pilgrims’ way. It is customary for people who are particularly close to each other to stuff a piece of injera into each other’s mouths. It was no different with Peter and the pilgrims under the tent roof at the “Pearl” hostel, which was not quite finished.

A scriptural word comes to mind from the Old Testament, which is very familiar to us Orthodox Christians, from the book of the prophets “Make wide the room of your tent (Isaiah 54:2).

This is my experience from these days: wherever this pilgrimage leads, it is always to do good and to feel with people, to serve them and to share everything.  This reflects the spirit of PBF. These five days gave our team countless opportunities.

Joining our team – quite surprisingly – is Mohamed Mushega from Addis Ababa, the co-responsible for the students at PBF. The pilgrim Moha – without hands and arms for decades – had his feet washed by Sisay from our team. This was a very impressive encounter for me. The spirit of PBF speaks in a special way from the sculpture with the “stone arch” attached to “Pearl”: Each stone can “rest” on the other and all belong to it – like the colours in a rainbow.


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