Gated Community But Not at the Heart

Oct 1 , 2022
By Eden Sahle ( Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at )

Almost five months into our marriage, my husband and I moved to a new neighbourhood around the Summit area. At first sight, the neighbours seemed private, hidden behind their gated and highly guarded compounds. They were rarely seen walking outside of their homes or the community park.

Despite our expectations and first impressions, the community welcomed us warmly. They bonded with our dogs, bringing them freshly cooked meals. The guards offered their helping hand when we moved in household goods. They also explained the privileges and security restrictions in the neighbourhood.

A few days after we moved into our new house, some community members approached us for a chat and even invited us over for dinner at their homes. They told us about social activities and introduced us to the neighbourhood social media channel where they shared relevant information about the community including emergency services, how life is in the neighborhood and ways of safely navigating the area.

Last Monday evening, we were invited to join a community event. It was our first time engaging with the community as members. People from all backgrounds, locals and foreigners, gathered together with their children and families. All of us sat by the community park. There were meals and drinks. Children got together with their peers and played. The adults chatted about life, laughed, shared meals and wished each other a good year.

At one time, in the middle of the event, the elders in the community rose to speak about the ‘Ethiopia’ they knew and how the community was bounded to one another. However, they mournfully admitted that those days were gone. Nowadays, people hate each other because of who they are and because of their origin, the elders said. Above all, people have become hostile to one another. The elders blessed the community after reminding us of the importance of unity and supporting each other, in good times and bad.

It was refreshing to find such a compassionate community that made a lot of things easier for us. Such incredible supporting behaviour has the most impact on other people. Kindness can be contagious when people share lives infused with positivity and trust, resulting in collaboration and unity.

No doubt, this is not everyone’s experience in Addis Abeba these days. There are some who have found themselves in a suspicious, violent and cold community. This is specifically the case in areas where there is a lot of poverty, where children do not get to grow up with supportive social systems and the community cannot afford to hire security guards.

Spending time with our community is a great way to broaden our human potential. By engaging with our neighbours and surrounding ourselves with people who are dedicated to bettering their communities, we can learn how much life is enjoyable and peaceful. We can gain a unique sense of purpose by serving those around us; one which often manifests in other areas of our life.

Research shows that people who are peaceful and compassionate experience clear benefits to their well-being and happiness that may even lead to a longer life. If we take the time to be good to other people, we can reap emotional dividends. Kindness can also help reduce stress and improve our emotional wellbeing while being hostile does the opposite.

We all have something going on in our lives, not to mention the ongoing political instability and war across the country. But it should not hinder us from being kind to one another, especially to those communities that are less well off and underserved. We live in a country that lacks organised and responsive police and emergency services. The immediate support is provided by neighbours, family and relatives that nearly everyone in Ethiopia depends on in times of need. Being in a community where we feel a sense of belongingness brings stability and security.

Living with such a community can help us through difficult situations that might feel insurmountable when we are alone. Knowing there are people who support us can help us feel cared for, safe, and can benefit our outlook. It is up to every one of us to help citizens feel this way.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 01,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1170]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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