Elfinesh Banti was born in Enamor Gurage in the Ethiopian Highlands. There, she attended school until the fifth grade. Elfinesh Grimm-Banti still remembers the difficult and primitive conditions in the old classroom. Back then, the children did their lessons sitting on rocks. There was no clean drinking water. She has also always remembered how girls and women were discriminated against.
Later on she tried her luck as a vegetable seller in the capital, Addis Ababa. She moved on to Dire Dawa and Djbouti, from where she travelled to the French city of Bordeaux to work as an au pair with a French officer’s family.
She met Heiri Grimm in France in 1978, and the pair married a year later.
Elfinesh Grimm-Banti moved to Switzerland with her husband, where she worked for several years as a nurse in the Triemli City Hospital in Zurich.
Nowadays, she devotes all her efforts, with no remuneration, to the schoolhouse project in the place of her childhood, in the Ethiopian Highlands. Her work requires her to visit her homeland for months at a time. She has become a commuter between two cultures, between one of the richest and one of the poorest countries in the world.