We have always tried to ensure that the Project brings added-value to the local communities where we work.
This has included providing temporary work for a few local young people who have assisted with the dig, and offering training for archaeology students and young professionals. In addition, team members have been invited to give lectures and presentations at the universities of Addis Ababa, Mekelle and Woldia.
Local institutions often face financial constraints, so in some cases we have agreed to supplement their resources, for example by supplying dozens of textbooks and other materials to Gännätä Maryam primary school and covering shortfalls to ensure a regular internet service at the Lalibela Cultural Centre, which kindly provides safe storage for the Project’s finds.
At the start of the Project in 2009, we asked the local religious and secular communities at Gännätä Maryam to identify ways in which our work might benefit them and what specific desirables we might be able to help them achieve.
One request was that we should help them publicise Gännätä Maryam in order to attract more visitors, since their church receives only a small fraction of the tourists that now flock to Lalibela. They asked us to sponsor the translation into modern Amharic and publication of an important Gǝ‘ǝz manuscript kept in their church, the Life of King Yǝkunno Amlak. Work on this began in 2010, but the task took longer than planned because of its complexity. The book was finally published in 2019 and we donated the print run of 1000 copies to the church for it to sell to visitors. We are now preparing a version in English to be sold to foreign tourists.