An Ethiopian Diary: Day 9

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Beautiful Maji

How can it be our last day in this paradise? I want to dig my heals in and somehow not return to city life, to being connected.

Turns out living off the grid has its vast advantages. My window is left open every night in our little guest house, and I hear crickets, the stars seem to fill the night sky and their light rains down on us. When I wake, I can hear the birds and the chiming of cow bells. The area so lush I can’t bear to leave. And for this one last day, I don’t have to.

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An awfully little boy for all that responsibility.

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A very typical scene in Ethiopia. Sunset means time to get back home with your cattle!

We four artists paint all morning. In the afternoon, we drive the half hour up the mountain to Maji and again we paint all afternoon. We paint until the sun is beginning to set and reluctantly we pack up to head off to supper.

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Team member Troy getting the kiddos engaged in art.

Our drive is never boring; children follow us, and on this night, we even have a very impressive runner keeping up with our truck. (See video at end of blog.)

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As cute as they make ’em! This is our persistent little runner!

I do not pretend to know the hardships of this region. I understand giving birth can be very dangerous, and the hard-working people do their best, but medical care is lacking all around. No electricity or running water might be lovely for us for a few nights, bumping in and out but for the people… I am humbled.

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Maji rolling on and on in its splendor.

My art is not — nor do I ever foresee it to be — about hardship. It is about joy and beauty, and the area has given me more than enough fodder for my work.

In fact, joy and beauty are spilling over, and I’m a little heartbroken to have to wake up and pack my bags.

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To my team and the lovely people in Tum and Maji, my most sincere thanks. I shall never forget this time in the magic that I felt!

A future Olympic runner no doubt, this little cutie followed our truck for what seemed like forever giggling and laughing but determined. Today he is my hero!

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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