Religious Students of Lalibela

One of the most devout places I’ve encountered during my trips was Ethiopia.  At the world-famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, I heard a chorus of shrill chanting on a ledge above me.  Wending my way up to the source of sound, I discovered a group of a dozen children, together with instructor, fervently intoning lines from worn Bibles.  Like the most committed adult spiritual seekers of many faiths, these children lived in ultra-spartan shelters adjoining their place of worship.  Receiving not only intensive religious instruction but also a rudimentary place to sleep and daily bread, their participation in the church was clearly serving both social and spiritual needs.  Macro-dynamics aside, the young students, aged from perhaps 5 years, loved having me take their pictures.  They evidently relished direct interaction with a “faranji” who, unlike the many foreigners who visited the church, managed to find them, hidden like a treasure, just slightly off the beaten track.