The name WEEMA is a beautiful word from the local dialect meaning “hope” or to become “whole” or “fulfilled.” It also is an acronym representing our projects, our comprehensive approach and what we believe in- WATER, EDUCATION, ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT, MEDICAL CARE and ALLIANCE.

The “A” for alliance is the anchor of our work- that is, partnership with the communities we serve. We listen carefully, strengthen existing systems, nurture local talent, and are guided by community feedback.

More details on the cultural significance of weema:

The word ‘weema’ is a meaningful one in Tembarsa, the local dialect spoken in the Kembata-Tembaro Zone of Ethiopia. It can mean something that carries all the necessary or important elements in it, and it also is an expression of optimism, hope, positivity, perfection and fullness or wholeness. It signifies something all encompassing.

‘Weema’ is a popular word in Tembaro culture. It is applied to many situations that relate back to the idea of wholeness.

When two families of two ethnic groups are in conflict, local elders will call a special meeting to resolve the issue. After intensive negotiation, the elders must determine whether to offer a punishment or forgiveness. In cases where forgiveness is the recommended antidote, representatives from the two families drink from a single cup, filled to the brim with honey, at the same time. The elders will say, “Weema Aga,” or “Drink full together.” Once the two families have shared a full cup of honey, there can be no talk of revenge—only of forgiveness and moving forward together.

When two young people become engaged, witnesses will ‘drink full’ or ‘Weema’ to approve the engagement, allowing for the arrangement of a marriage ceremony—another bringing together. Weema is also a means of sealing a business arrangement. It serves as a promise, either to deliver livestock or products or to repay a loan.

Weema is also used publicly as a display of friendship and loyalty. Two friends will ‘drink full’ at a public gathering such as the market. Sharing a drink together is an expression of love.