Tag Archives: helen zeru

Ethiopia, Day 13: Between Two Worlds



As I take rest in Frankfort overnight before returning home, I reflect on an inspirational, thought-provoking trip. I look forward to using my language of images to express all that was experienced and felt!

From the road…


Um, yeah, happy to have stayed safe.


We stayed safe due to the best, friendliest, happiest, makin’ friends everywhere driver, Jimmy. (Which, to answer the question I asked at the beginning of our journey, was indeed his real name.)

Just about every time we turned around, Jimmy was experiencing the people, from the time we returned to the car to find him borrowing a local bike, to being dressed up in full tribal wear, to dancing and singing with the local children. We felt lucky to have Jimmy along!


The tribes …

The schools …

The players in this adventure: Aklilu, Helen, Elaine and myself … (The scarf over our heads was to protect us from the crazy intense sun — it was 42 degrees Celsius this day. I think our smiles were even an effort.) Moments afterward, Elaine almost fell in a fire. The locals had a blast laughing it up on our account. Always happy to be of entertainment, us ferengi!

Thank you for following my journey! More soon …

In transit,

Meet the Ethiopia Team


I’ll be traveling through Ethiopia with three fellow artists: one American, two African. Here’s a virtual introduction to the team!

Stephanie Schlatter is a painter and mixed media artist from Grand Rapids, Mich. Her journey as an artist is influenced through her travels abroad and her study of art globally. She draws inspiration from the freedom of artistic expression in other cultures and the unfettered creativity of children around the world. She is motivated with a passion to teach and cultivate the creative learning process in others. Her travel experiences richly enhance her own paintings, which reflect the beauty of both the people and lands she have visited. Stephanie founded Absolutely Art: A Project for Change (formerly Art Aid International) to share art and to support education in Ethiopia.


Aklilu Temesgen Bizuayehu was born in 1980. He is a professional visual artist, painter, and mixed media artist who works at 5 Art Studio and Gallery and lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He graduated with a distinction from Addis Ababa University, School of Fine Arts and Design. Aklilu is internationally collected and has participated in many solo and group exhibitions around the world. His paintings are characterized by a vibrancy of color and movement.

ImageElaine Tucci is a writer, journalist, poet, lyricist and painter and a spokesperson and advocate for women’s leadership and peace innovation. She is the founder and President/CEO of Women Lead to Change, an international nonprofit based in Denver, Colo., and dedicated to providing thought leadership and public awareness that build a unique women’s leadership platform to inspire social change. Elaine is publisher and editor of Woman ChangeMaker, an e-magazine that chronicles the unique creativity and wisdom of women as they use their rising power and influence to drive and accelerate social change around the globe. She has conducted extensive research on U.S. foreign policy as it relates to women, peace and security and writes frequently on a variety of national and international topics. Serving the role as “the chronicler” of The Trip Takes Us, she hopes to weave a narrative of place and time to present Ethiopia to those who have not tasted its vibrant space nor contemplated the promise of its future.

ImageHelen Zeru Araya was born in Addis Ababa in 1987. She studied economics at Bahir Dar University before enrolling at Addis Ababa University of Fine Art from where she achieved her BFA in 2008. After her graduation she studied photography with DESTA for Africa foundation for one year. She is an active member of Netsa Art Village, works as a studio artist and freelance photographer, and as an art-therapist for several local NGO’s. Helen works with photography, video art, performance, painting and charcoal drawings. Her works often start as reflections of personal and emotional themes, and end up entering a broader social context, touching upon relevant and pressing issues in society. Helen is interested in the social, traditional and cultural change that comes with the process of change beyond its physical structure built on the ground. She asks, “How do we develop? Why do we develop? What does development mean?”