Tag Archives: absolutely art

Ethiopia, Day 2: A Tree for My Garden and an Education for My Child



You know that feeling you get when words seem inadequate? When it feels foolish to try to give life to an experience that has moved you so profoundly?

Well, today I ask you to bear with me, because that is exactly how I feel.

ImageTo arrive in a village in rural southern Ethiopia that until recently did not have a school — no school at all — and to see a newly built school; to shake the hands of the beautiful sweet children who are so completely happy to be attending class; to meet the parents glowing in the joy of a child who is being educated, and proud teachers who are doing an amazing job of educating over 200 of the area’s youth — well, I have no words for that. I am simply humbled.

I fight embarrassment for every single time I gave my mom a hard time about going to school, complained about homework, but I remember that does no good, so I just offer up a deep, deep bow of gratitude for my education and every single teacher who helped me along the way.

ImageThe community has been changed by this school, which was built by Ethiopia Reads, funded by private donations from the states and our friends at On the Ground. Hope now abounds. There are still problems to be solved in this extremely poor area, and that school costs money every year to run — right around $10,000, which is why I set that goal to raise. I figure my community will do that much; they will donate $5, $10, $20, until we can keep that school open another year, or the equivalent of that.

Ethiopia can seem far away if you haven’t been here, met the people, traversed the land and felt the need, seen what truly poor is. When a $1 a day is a lot of money to you — well, I am so very humbled by that.

A sign at the school read, “A tree for my garden and an education for my child.” WOW. Simple pleasures. Education should just never ever be about whether your parents can afford to provide one for you. It’s not right — not even close.

So now I know, and now you know: The world is vast and unfair, and as for me, I have $20 in my purse right now that will send a child to school for a month. That I can do.

I have to add before I sign off how truly lovely this community is: gracious, smiling children who are SUPER eager to learn, neighbors looking out for neighbors, nothing taken for granted. Yes, they have so much to teach us from the west. But for now, I want to know all those transfixing beautiful eyes I looked into today can continue to be in school. Then I will ponder gratitude, the kind that has nothing to do with what possessions I have and everything to do with how full my soul is. I’m just so damn grateful, so, so, so full of thanks, because today, I met a beautiful community; today, I was expanded inside.

Love from Ethiopia,


Welcome from Your “Cruise Director”!


ImageHi, SSA and Absolutely Art fans! My name is Cortney Casey, and you may be familiar with me as the co-founder of MichiganByTheBottle.com and Michigan By The Bottle Tasting Room. As a huge SSA fan myself, it is my privilege and honor to work as Stephanie’s social media manager. As such, she’s tapped me to be your “virtual cruise director” and resident cheerleader while she’s in Ethiopia.

I’ll be helping Stephanie communicate messages to you while she’s there, and coordinating the giving campaign that will extend throughout her journey. Stephanie and her team have set a goal of raising $10,000 to support children’s education in Ethiopia Jan. 7-23. This amount would cover the operating expenses of a school for an entire year. With your help, I’m confident we can achieve or even surpass that goal! We’ll keep you posted on the progress, and when Stephanie returns, she’ll be drawing randomly from all of the donors to determine the winner of an SSA prize pack.

We’ll also be promoting selected artwork, merchandise, gift certificates and other items daily via Stephanie’s social media, with 100% of proceeds from sales of those featured items donated to Ethiopia Reads. If you’ve been considering purchasing Stephanie’s artwork, this is an excellent time to help out others as you do.

I hope you’re as excited as I am to follow Stephanie’s travels in Africa, seeing another part of the world through her eyes and the eyes of her fellow artists and learning about the great work they’re doing while there. Stay tuned for blogs and photos from Stephanie as she makes her way across Ethiopia!