Tag Archives: kololo

Ethiopia, Day 4: These Dear Souls Will Not Be Forgotten

Standard

Image

Tomorrow morning we hit the road bright and early for tribal Ethiopia. South Omo, here we come!

ImageBUT … I will miss the sweet souls of Kololo, Ethiopia: their warmth, eagerness to learn and gratitude. It makes leaving the community — as well as the little bundles of joy that stole my heart — bittersweet.

Today was our last day with the students, and the children created a mural-sized painting to decorate each of the classrooms. It was a joy-filled day as the kids worked in large scale and on canvas for the first time.

The school has 277 students, and we could not work on the canvases all at once, so the children who were not painting worked with crayons and paper and dance. I thought them the “Hokey Pokey” which was meet with squeals of delight, huge smiles and laughter. Then they thought me some traditional dances. Um, let’s just say they are really good dancers. This girl from the West could not keep up, but the kids shared a great deal of laughter as I had a go at it. Joy abounded; the day was definitely a success. It was sad to leave, and these dear souls will not be forgotten.

ImageI am filled with gratitude to each and every person who took part in making this school a reality. Education is not a foregone conclusion here, but it should be. Education is valued here in a way that transforms entire communities. Generous donors both large and small came together to fulfill the words of Nelson Mandela, whom I quote often because he is so right. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Yeah!

Love from Ethiopia,
Stephanie

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!

Ethiopia, Day 3: I Have Taught My Hands How

Standard

ImageIt’s an hour and a half drive to school everyday. That’s how long it takes to get from the area’s only reasonable hotel (“reasonable” meaning no fleas) to the Kololo school. About half of the way is a Ethiopian massage road — that’s code for a very bumpy dirt road. It’s beautiful countryside the whole way, and my artist mind is taking it all in the whole way.

ImageToday, driving back from another lovely day making art with the sweet ones, seemed extra long. It could have been exhaustion, maybe a full bladder; it was extra hot today. I don’t know why, but it felt longer, and that got me to thinking. Before this school was built in Kololo by Ethiopia Reads, there were only schools that took hours to walk to and, as I understand it, one or two kids actually did that. Remember when your parents used to say, “I used to walk hours to school in bare feet, uphill both ways”? Well, some kids pretty much do. At least half of the students in Kololo are in fact barefoot, and had they walked hours to school in this mountainous region, it would have big hills both ways. Yet, some kids consider themselves lucky for that opportunity.

I’ve spent the last two days in a community overflowing with gratitude because they now have a school. Oh, the things we take for granted.

ImageThe children were as brilliant as ever. So patient and eager to learn. So unaffected by Game Boys, iPhones, iPads, television — I could go on, but the idea is: It’s refreshing, this ability for children to just sit and be. No need for constant stimulation here, just gratitude for learning.

That’s not the whole story: Life is not easy in this rural community, no need to sugarcoat it, yet there is happiness, there is a certain romance, something they could teach us in the West. We painted we sang, we danced and we sat outside under a big shade tree. My heart is full.

ImageIn the evening, we four artists traveling together to share and create art located the quietest spot we could find and set ourselves up to do just that. In Ethiopia, you are never alone, and soon we had a audience. As if we were rock stars, the children of all ages soon surrounded us, then settled down and sat for over an hour, watching us work, patient and entertained by the plein air painters. It was pure joy to be outside, gazing upon the crazy beauty of rural Ethiopia, doing what I love best to do in this world: paint.

ImageAt the dinner that followed, we were joined by other volunteers here on behalf of Ethiopia Reads, and we heard their stories. They all were moving, but my favorite was a story of a little boy who was asked, “What do you like about art class?” His answer I will loosely translate as: “Art makes me happy. Now that I have been taught how to draw, I have a new way to communicate. If I want to draw something, I have taught my hands how, and expressing myself is easy. I want to, and I didn’t feel like that before.”

Um, yeah — so be still, my beating heart: A 9-year-old boy from a very rural farming village in Ethiopia speaks my language, he gets it, he speaks creativity and it has changed him.

That’s all, that’s enough!

Thank you for coming along with me on this incredible journey!

Stephanie

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!