With so much work surrounding the trip to Ethiopia, I haven’t even had time to blog about the beauty of our THRIVE Creatives Retreat in January- over weekend of the East Coast blizzard, no less! If you want to see and read more, you can head over to the blog post on the THRIVE website. I will let the photos do the talking here, but I also want to give a huge thank you to our sponsors: Kinfolk Magazine, Day Designer, Appointed Co , Heart Magazine, Madcap coffee, Sydney Hale Co, Red Barn Mercantile, Laura Hooper Calligraphy, United by Blue, Seven Sundays, Priya Means Love, Norwex, Buttercream Bakeshop, and Miss Mustard Seed.
And a massive thank you to our photographer for the weekend Rachel Lyn for all of these gorgeous photos!
One of the stops on our creatives trip was No Ordinary Love Ministries. I fell in love with this organization years back on my first trip to Ethiopia. They work closely with the local government who brings them children who have been rescued after being trafficked. NOLM provides a safe house, love, and therapy for these little ones, usually girls, who have seen and experienced more than we can imagine. This is intense stuff, y’all. Then as often as possible they locate the kid’s families out in the rural villages. These families often either thought that their children were being taken to be educated or have sometimes been looking for them, thinking they were lost. Two of our team members were able to attend a reunification while we were there. Amy Melsa captured stunning photos like the two right below, and I can’t wait to see the video that our videographer, Hasani Edmondson, took.
Another aspect of this ministry is their program to support single mothers who are so impoverished that they are at risk of having to give up their children. We were able to be with them for a community gathering where these vulnerable families gather, with the children living at the safe house, to receive holistic support. It’s a sort of celebration and you can literally see the light and the fighting spirit of these women and children.
This organization is seriously underfunded and the value and quality of their work is more than I could explain here. To get involved in their incredible work, head over to their website HERE.
Last week I returned from leading a creatives team to Ethiopia. My truly wonderful team included professional videographers and photographers, an author, and a professor of graphic design for social justice.
We landed in Ethiopia prepared to create material for databases of media for 5 incredible organizations. But how can you ever prepare to interact with trafficked children, special needs orphans, impoverished communities, kids who live on the streets, and so much more? While my team was incredible, making beautiful images and video, I was even more proud of them for being vulnerable and for letting themselves be affected by what they saw. We spent many a day holding it all together while we worked and then letting the tears flow the moment we were alone. But it wasn’t only the sad. Ethiopia and its people hold so much beauty and so much for us to learn from and bring home. We were also moved by the community, honesty, and beauty we saw (and the coffee…how can you not be moved by the coffee!)
One aspect that was extremely important for us was to document the people as dignified equals often reminding them that the photos were for them and for telling their stories and not for us. Pity puts people down, but joining together lifts people up.
I have much more to show and more specific experiences to blog. But I thought I’d start out by showing you the people and the beauty of Ethiopia.