An Ethiopian Odyssey: Day 4

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Finding myself at the domestic flights terminal of the Bole International Airport, I am reminded of — and humbled by — the many gifts of travel.

Our team of eight is off to Jimma, Ethiopia. Then we went bump, bump, bump, in a truck all the way to Tum, our jumping-off point for Maji, Ethiopia. We are returning with two team members who grew up here, returning to the roots of why Ethiopia Reads was founded. The organization was co-founded acclaimed children’s book author, Jane Kurtz. The little girl of missionary parents, Jane grew up in Maji, Ethiopia, was raised by a mother who loved to read and raised children who love to read.

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We spend the night in Bonga, near Kafffa, birth place of coffee. A lovely drive through lush (or in Ahmaric, “lum lum”) scenery. I’m itching to paint by now. But due to our late arrival, I’ll have to settle for photos. My team member and friend Troy Zaushny and I head off on foot to follow the sun. There are places whose beauty exceed one’s ability for words, and this place is one such place.

It is a magical experience, with the sun was setting over a magical and lush rolling landscape. The already exquisite vista is made even more beautiful by the setting sun.

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As often happens in rural Ethiopia, the presence of foreigners soon attracts a group, and the sweet children follow us on our photo-taking adventure. They giggle with increasing animation as we walk along, holding hands, following the beauty of the setting sun.

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That is the magic of Ethiopia: the people, the beauty, the simple pleasures. It leaves me longing to pull out my paints. And a plan is made for the four painters to do just that in the morning. Until tomorrow, I’ll lay my head down with the sweet memories of the day.

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Their first selfie. Riotous joy!

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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