Ethiopia, Day 1: Darkness and Light



Arriving at Bole International Airport last night, I cried tears of joy. I was delayed five long days due to the weather in my winter wonderland home in Grand Rapids, Mich., and I was just so happy to finally be back.

Waiting in line at Passport Control, Ethiopia did what it always does to me: It slapped me across the face with reality. The reality that life is not fair and where you’re born can vastly affect your life. Next to me in line were over a hundred young Ethiopian men, all wrapped in the same gray blanket. I looked closer and noticed that all of the blankets were with the United Nations logo and the words “UN Refuge Agency.” I heard the young man behind me talking with a few of them: They were in Saudi Arabia for work, but the Saudi government had gone bad on them and the situation was ugly. When I crawled into bed in my Addis Ababa hotel, I gave thanks that I have never known the life of a refugee, and sent much love and light to all who were in this position.

Today was less dark, emotionally. We started out early in a truck loaded with gear and anticipation. Jimmy is our driver. (I have to wonder if that’s his real name? I’ve never met a Jimmy in Ethiopia before. I’ll have to ask.) Either way, Jimmy is a great guy and, with Vast Ethiopia Tours, our host for the next nine days.

ImageThe drive once we made our way out of bustling and sprawling Addis Ababa was truly spectacular. Ethiopia is mountainous and the hills rolled on and on. We passed mostly farmland with the most beautiful hand-painted huts. Ethiopia is FULL of a ancient tradition in art, right down to the stunning designs on these houses, which I want to know more about.

ImageWe stopped to take a photo of one of these  hand-painted huts and were soon surrounded by locals. Just moments before, it appeared there wasn’t a soul in sight, just vast landscapes sprinkled here and there with a few isolated huts. That’s Ethiopia for you; you’re never alone. 🙂

When we arrived in Hosanna, a four-hour drive from the capital, we ate a speedy lunch so we could get out on location and paint. For two glorious hours, we sat in this quiet park and painted, breathed in the beauty before us and enjoyed the process of creating. We were only barely discovered, with an occasional “hello” hollered out from the distance. Our main audience was grazing goats, thinking my painting a possible meal.

ImageThe sun set while we were there and put on a glorious display, with the silhouettes of the enchanting trees to place that magical African spell on us. Not a bad first day, I say.

Tomorrow, we will drive to Kololo to teach the sweet ones. I guess we will be teaching Sunday school. Tune in tomorrow to see how it goes.

Love from Ethiopia,


Interested in supporting education in Ethiopia? Click here to donate, or “like” my Facebook page to see daily featured SSA items, 100% of proceeds from which will go to Ethiopia Reads!

About Stephanie Schlatter Art

Stephanie Schlatter is an Artist who draws from the world for inspiration. While she calls Grand Rapids, Michigan, home she’s often off on new adventures. For more than a decade, her journeys have taken her across the globe. She has studied art both locally and abroad, including time in Mexico, where she decided to shift her focus from photography to painting. Stephanie's travels led her to found Absolutely Art: A Project for Change in 2006. Through this non-profit organization, she brings art instruction to the children of Ethiopia while supporting their education. Stephanie's work reflects an expression influenced by other cultures which resonates a variety of influences that have given her work direction.

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