After nearly a decade of learning on the ground in Ethiopia and traversing the globe to improve ourselves, we’re ready to give Art Aid International a makeover of sorts — and that includes a new name.
What I’ve learned in my 40 years on Earth — plus my real time in the field in Ethiopia — is to follow my gut and to listen to my heart. “Aid” has become a word I don’t like. It implies a sense of hierarchy, dividing the world into the “haves” and the “have nots.”
I have gained so much more than I have given in my time in Ethiopia. How I wish we could do an exchange whereby people with such little monetarily could share with those of us who happen to be financially fortunate, teaching us about what really matters — which I believe is something you gain by the absence of “things.”
Yes, I have access to the mere $21 that it takes to send an Ethiopian child to school every month, but that’s only a product of my birthplace, not of my own doing. That $21 a month means the world to parents who can’t afford to send their child to school simply because of where they were born. Seems kind of crazy unfair, doesn’t it? But that says nothing of me or them — just of chance, really.
So this word “aid” started to bug me, to fester in my thoughts, and I felt compelled to set it right. I decided this project has outgrown its old name; it needed a new one to honor the people it’s there to serve and to highlight that, in a much broader sense, we give and we get — it is an exchange.
Thus, Absolutely Art was born, a project for change. I do believe in change: I believe every child has a basic human right to education, literacy and to live out loud in full color, despite there place of birth and parents’ income bracket. A dollar a day — a typical Ethiopian salary — doesn’t afford education for sweet children eager to learn, but it affords love, community, basic human dignity.
So with the humble heart of a student, I’m really excited for this new chapter in learning and growing and sharing art! Join me in celebrating Absolutely Art: A Project for Change!