In a city loaded with dust or mud one would expect that people would not care about their shoes, after all they would just get dirty again. But Addis Abeba is pretty well know for it's shoe shine boys. I found a BBC story here about a shoe shine girl.
I think the choice quote from the essay is, "Meskerem uses some of the money she earns to pay her school fees - of 15 birr ($1.65) a month. 'I had to go to school because I want to get knowledge - knowledge is how you become somebody,' she says. She hopes to become a teacher one day."
I have been told that most of the students in Ethiopia possess the same kind of attitude as Meskerem.