The One Good Thing That Came From the Trash Landslide
In Korah about two years ago, there was a massive trash landslide. It just unexpectedly happened one Saturday night. Some say about 200 people died because of it. It was very tragic. When it happened, the entire village was in mourning. People lost family, friends, neighbors, their homes, and their security. Right after the landslide happened, the Carry 117 Ethiopian staff was helping feed people in the shelters, and we were on site trying to help in any way we could. It was really traumatizing for the entire community. You’d see the bulldozer lift a bunch of trash, and body parts would be part of the pile.
There were a lot of families that never saw each other again. I remember there was a guy that lost six of his children and his wife. To this day, I still hear his chilling words, “I’m not sure if they are dead, or I am.” He was devastated when we talked to him. The amount of loss and grief was almost unbearable. It was a tragic moment for all of Korah. There was not a single person in this community that was not impacted.
Schools shut down. Nobody went to work. Everybody was helping, trying to dig people out of the trash, and trying to clear the area. Even the children were helping. And surprisingly, people that didn’t even like us were there to help. They used to bring trouble to Korah, and now they were here helping Korah through a tragedy. It brought such unity when the trash landslide occurred, so that was a positive thing.
But there was just something about it that changed Korah. Korah is unknown, and always has been. Nobody knows about it, and nobody has cared about it. Nobody really gives it attention. Eight years ago, I didn’t even know about it and I only lived 15 minutes away. But when the trash slide happened, it was like all of a sudden the eyes of my Ethiopian people were opened and Korah became known. The mayor of the city came and visited. A lot of famous actors and famous people came to pay their respects. Korah went from receiving no attention to receiving a lot of attention all because of the landslide. The people in Korah always thought they were outcasts and that nobody wanted to come into Korah. But when this happened, it brought people into Korah that we never would have imagined. Even my family went to Korah and served, and they had never been in Korah before.
When this happened, the people in Korah felt seen, understood, and loved. I would say a good thing happened through that bad time. Ever since then, there has been a feeling of, “Okay, we haven’t been forgotten.” Even if it’s a small thing, it’s also a good thing that came out of this tragedy.
I think there is a “before-landslide” and an “after-landslide” perspective in Korah. When this happened, Korah got attention from the government and from other people around the city. People are even moving to Korah right now from other parts of the city that are not cursed. It’s not necessarily a good thing though because when people move in, that means other people are being kicked out of Korah. The area our compound is located in has actually been given to a real-estate company so they are going to take some of it and build. They’ve already started clearing the land. They’re also building a road crossing the trash dump now. The effects of the landslide have definitely brought changes.
There is a new natural energy plant that is open now as well, so now instead of trash from the city going to the trash dump, it will all go straight into the plant and turn it into energy and power. Eventually the whole trash dump will be gone. The question is: is it a good or bad thing? They said they were going to hire a lot of people at this energy plant but it won’t be nearly enough to employ all of the people in Korah that are in need of a job. Now that the plant is open and the trash now goes there, there will be a lot of people without jobs because they collect things from the trash to sell. For many, that’s also where they get their food. This new plant brings a mix of feelings and outcomes for the people of Korah—both good and bad.
The landslide has brought a lot of changes for Korah, and has definitely increased our exposure. More people are now aware that Korah exists. But the tragedy of the landslide had to happen in order for that to take place, and it was a terrible experience and event for our community.
I am not sure why bad things happen.
But I am sure of this: unity as a result of a tragedy is a great thing. And what our country needs is more unity. Actually, what our world needs is more unity.