Studying the relationship between mental illnesses and their environmental and genetic risk factors in low-income countries holds excellent promises. These studies will improve our understanding of how risk factors identified predominantly in high-income countries also apply to other settings and will identify new, sometimes population-specific risk factors. Here we report the successful completion of two intertwined pilot studies on khat abuse, trauma, and psychosis at the Gilgel Gibe Field Research Center in Ethiopia. We found that the Gilgel Gibe Field Research Center offers a unique opportunity to collect well-characterized samples for mental health research and to perform genetic studies that, at this scale, have not been undertaken in Ethiopia yet. We also supported service development, education, and research for strengthening the professional profile of psychiatry at the site.