Big Dreams. The power of small actions…paired with open hearts.
Six artists (three painters, two writers, and a writer/photographer) traveled to Ethiopia in February 2016.
Goal #1: Create a collection of playful, colorful, culturally appropriate, fun reading materials that Ethiopia Reads can translate into local languages.
What does it mean for a child to be able to learn to read in her mother tongue? Global researchers for UNESCO and other organizations report that about 250 million children are still not learning basic literacy skills, even after four years of school.
One crucial issue? A large body of evidence shows that children learn literacy skills better in their mother tongue. They are also then better able to transfer these skills to a second language. (Ethiopia is among the countries emphasizing the need for local language instruction and materials.)
Ethiopia Reads has always worked hard to make schools and libraries more welcoming for children, parents and communities. Ethiopian Odyssey II will help add a key piece: creating colorful, playful, culturally appropriate reading materials that can be translated into the local languages of Ethiopia Reads’ schools and libraries.
Goal # 2: Travel to an even more remote part of Ethiopia to capture the beauty of landscape and people and share it with audiences in the U.S.
Two of the writers in the group, Jane Kurtz (author of more than 30 books for children) and Caroline Kurtz (finishing a memoir of her years working in Ethiopia and the Sudan) grew up in Maji, a village in remote southwest Ethiopia. It is hard to reach, with no showers or electric lights, but it is beautiful.
The artists are up for the tough journey! They will donate paintings and photographs created in Maji for several 2016 exhibits back in the U.S. that will raise money and awareness for Ethiopia Reads projects in southwest Ethiopia.
Goal # 3: Connect with community leaders in Maji to see what we can leave behind.
Community leaders have identified top needs—the needs of people everywhere. Water. Electricity. Medical care. Effective education.
Artists may sometimes struggle but they also have power. Artists can help show and tell a community’s stories. They can put their creativity and imagination to work.
On this trip, team members will help with one solar-powered electricity project. They will target some of the colorful reading materials to help preserve a local language, one that is in danger of dying out. And they will help document community projects and dreams. Together we dream a new world.