The reason we were connected with Seeds of Africa is the same reason why this organization has this wonderful Micro-Finance Project for the mothers- and this reason is the lovely Maggie Sands. I met Maggie a little over a Â year ago on a shoot and while working together here and there I was able to learn more about Seeds and what they do not only for the children but also for the parents. Â To start they offer an adult literacy program that offers the parents the opportunity to upgrade their level in reading, writing and financial literacy, acting as a tool for personal empowerment and a means to reach their full potential as parents, community members and employees. After that they offer a Three Day Entrepreneurship Seminar, and in November of 2012, twenty-three mothers participated. The seminar focuses on topics such as separating money between business and household, reinvesting profit, maintaining records, thinking proactively about new markets and a how-to in writing a business plan. If both programs are completed then the women are eligible for the Micro-Finance Project which allows the women to create a business through a Micro Credit of about 2,000 birr per person (2.000 birr is about 105USD). This opportunity allows mothers to work independently, train in a field to increase household income, and moving away from the traditional aid model, a shift takes place allowing mothers to support themselves and their families. So after Luke and I would teach during the week, on the weekends we would go out into the community to meet some of the business owners. On the first Saturday we went to visit Martha and Banchiayahu's mother who has a successful business selling injera, which is a traditional flatbread made out of teff flour and served with just about every meal in Ethiopia. While we were there we learned about her business and she talked to us about how big of an impact Seeds has been for her and her family. She told us that since she has opened her business she has made a wooden box and every day she puts a percentage of her earnings in the box, she plans to open after she has paid off her loan to Seeds.
Today I get to brag about my boyfriend Luke, and what he did at the Take Root Center while we were in Ethiopia. Luke is an elementary art teacher Â here in Madison so prior to us leaving I knew he was going to feel right at home. Luke worked on a music project with the students, he helped them record songs that either they have written or their teachers did, he also had them create album art and he taught them basic video editing. He will be putting together an album of all the songs that he worked on and will hopefully sell them to raise money for Seeds of Africa. Â Together Luke and I made videos of the songs, I would take video clips throughout the day and then Luke would put it all together, you can see my favorite one here. Luke also had the idea to put together a little documentary about the Take Root Center, you can watch that here. I have heard from many people here in Madison that Luke is an incredible teacher, and although I have never doubted it, it was so wonderful to be able to witness him in action, it was an amazing experience to share with Luke and he is the best travel companion a girl could ask for.
During our time in Ethiopia I took a few rolls of film, and after I got them developed I wished I would have taken more. Below is a collect of my film shots, I only took a few at the Take Root Center but most of them are from our last days in Ethiopia where Luke and I spent it exploring Addis - drinking coffee, searching for cassette stores and wandering the beautiful city.
For the last few weeks I have been spending my days in Adama, Ethiopia teaching and photographing for Seeds of AfricaÂ , a nonprofit educational organization that runs an after-school program that includes academic projects, cultural enrichment, the arts, ethics, sports and student health education. In addition, students are provided with nutrition, medical services, clothing and school supplies. I encourage all of you to click to the link for Seeds of Africa to learn more. My boyfriend, Luke and I were asked to come and teach art at the Take-Rook Center , Luke did an amazing music project with the kids, together we made a series of videos and I taught photography thanks to a handful of my friends who donated their digital cameras (I showed up to the center with 10 great point&shoot digital cameras that I was able to leave there for the kids to use!). For the next few weeks my blog posts will be filled with many of the photographs from my time at the Take-Root Center along with my students work. Stay tuned, and enjoy.