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I'm Ready | Journey to Ethiopia 

It's getting close now and I'm getting excited about leaving for Ethiopia. More than anything, I know that this trip will change me. Visiting countries and new continents has that effect from what I've heard. I know that I will be learning about agriculture and heath while I'm there, but also to give voice to the voiceless. It's no small wonder that my life's work has led me to this part of the journey. This year begins my 19th in education and that part of my journey alone makes me think that I am so ready for this.

Here's a short list of some of the things we'll be engaging in while in Africa:

  • visiting programs for education

  • learning about child and maternal health

  • meeting with women entrepreneurs and hands-on

  • experiencing how technology plays a role in the lives of people across the globe

  • exploring various economic interests throughout the country

  • studying sources of livelihood

  • discovering global issues of nutrition

Today, a package came in the mail that contained a number of things that I will need for my trip. For the last week I have been slowly setting up a space in my basement where I am putting things to pack. Besides the necessary clothing for my visit, I will be bringing some American students' artwork from my school and a book about my school that we created for another teacher's visit to Tanzania last year. (Look at my school being all global and visiting countries! I feel so blessed to be the next person to travel!) Actually, I have this thought that I'll be able to trade some of the jewelry and clothes that I own with local women. In fact, my goal is to bring nothing home that I bring with me so that I can wear and live Africa when I get back. In the package there was a handmade scarf made by a woman in the organization FashionABLE that came with a tag that explained more about it.

"Because of you I am ABLE to see my son Abel grow in character. Thank you, Etanesh."

FashionABLE creates sustainable business for women in Africa and they have Twitter and Facebook pages you can visit. This is my new favorite thing. I'm glad I have sisters because they are getting these scarves for Christmas. (Spoiler alert, sisters! You're welcome! They are gorgeous.)

There is something else that has me entirely thrilled about this trip. Not only am I going with some great friends that I've known and loved for years in Karen and Liz and Asha and Diana and Christine (and many more I have admired from afar), but Maya Haile Samuelsson is traveling with us, too. She is a philanthropist and model who is married to well renowned chef, Marcus Samuelsson. At least he's well renowned in our house where, if The Cuban got his way, the Food Channel would be on 24 hours a day. I got to eat at Marcus' Red Rooster Harlem restaurant this summer when I was in New York and The Cuban was so jealous he could hardly stand it. When I told him that Maya, a native Ethiopian, was traveling with us, too, he rolled his eyes and asked, "Seriously?" Luckily for me, I brought him home a signed copy of Marcus' cookbook New American Table when I got home or otherwise The Cuban would never have forgiven me.

He told me to invite them to dinner but I doubt that will happen. Instead, he will settle for eating Doro Wett with our new Ethiopian friends on Sunday.

I think I know things, but, to be honest, I have limited experiences even after being an educator for nearly two decades. I have never been out of the country and never used my passport or obtained a travel visa until now. The courage of the people and voices of the women and lives I encounter on this trip will, no doubt, rock my world and I am ready for it.

I'm ready.


I'll be traveling to Ethiopia at the generous invitation of  The ONE Campaign, a nonpartisan, advocacy organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. ONE works to convince governments (the US, as well as others) to invest in smart programs that help to eliminate poverty and preventable disease in a sustainable way. ONE Moms is a movement of moms everywhere using their extraordinary power to spread awareness for the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease. These moms are leading a movement to promote education, engagement and activism on behalf of the world's poorest.

Not only am I going to Ethiopia as an expense-paid guest of The ONE Campaign, but twelve other bloggers will be there and we all will report back to you how lives have been improved or saved by American-supported programs. ONE is a non-partisan organization committed to fighting extreme poverty and preventable disease by urging political leaders to support smart programs that save lives. ONE doesn’t ask for your money, just your voice.

If you're moved by anything you read here and you'd like to help, please consider adding your voice and join ONE by simply filling out this form.  I promise that your information will remain confidential.  And if you're already a member, and would still like to help, I'd love if you'd spread the word by sharing this post with your friends and followers. Share, Like, Tweet and please send all your good thoughts our way.

Following along with this page ONE Moms Ethiopia will allow you to see all the blog posts and keep up with our trip.
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Reader Comments (13)

Have an amazing trip. Ethiopia will change you--it certainly changed me. Love every moment. Looking forward to your (and the others') perspective.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

My eyes welled up with tears when I read the tag on my scarf, too. I cannot wait for this trip. I love your idea of coming home wearing Africa.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

The tag on the scarf is a brilliant idea! It's too easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of the problem, sometimes - to feel that "there's nothing that I, as an individual, with my own meagre resources, can do to help" - and end up doing nothing. Whereas initiatives like this, or Kiva, or @schmutzie 's idea of marking her 40th birthday by raising funds to bring fresh water to 40 people... individuals, helping individuals. What if everybody helped someone, literally, some one, else?

I cannot wait to read everything that you and your friends write, during the trip. You are going to have a life-changing, life-affirming experience.

September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine Taylor

Have a great trip, Kelly. I know you'll love it.

Little side story: About ten years ago, I came back to work from lunch one day to find the mail sitting on my chair. The mail carrier always did that when I was out. At the bottom of the stack was one of those over-sized, cushioned manilla envelopes. The envelope was starting to come apart and the contents were spilling onto my chair. It was a very fine, very light tan colored powdery looking substance. Before I could think, I brushed my hand across the powder. I picked up the envelope and noticed that not only was it addressed to someone else on the street, the return address was from somewhere Ethiopia. I called the lady it was addressed to and she came right over. When I told her I was afraid I might have been exposed to something dangerous, she just laughed and opened the envelope to show me what it was. Inside was another envelope containing baking flour that an Ethiopian lady had sent so the lady down the street could make authentic Ethiopian bread. I just loved that. (I hope this makes sense; it's late and I'm so tired.)

P.S. Did you know your blog feed has been broken for a couple months?

September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLFS

Kelly! I had no idea this is your first international travel! What an honor to share it with you, and what an amazing, unusual first experience it will be. I can't wait to do this together.

September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAsha Dornfest {Parent Hacks}

Have a great trip. Stop being so amazed that this is you life. You had to be amazing to get here!!!! :) Bring back lots of memories! (and a couple bragging rights!!!!) <3

September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeShanee

Have a brilliant, amazing, eye-opening time in Africa! Ethiopia won't be the same once you've left, I'm sure of it. You leave one hell of an impression.

September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

I'm so proud of you.

September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKjir

Looking forward to your words...

September 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTricia

[...] lots of scarves [...]

September 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWith My Feet | Mocha Momma

[...] Not long after I secured it I wondered if I would ever go anywhere. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an invitation to visit Addis Ababa, Ethiopia came from the ONE Moms campaign. Suddenly, I was going to go somewhere. I was going to visit a place that wasn’t surrounded by [...]

[...] Not long after I secured it I wondered if I would ever go anywhere. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an invitation to visit Addis Ababa, Ethiopia came from the ONE Moms campaign. Suddenly, I was going to go somewhere. I was going to visit a place that wasn’t surrounded by [...]

[...] Not long after I secured it I wondered if I would ever go anywhere. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an invitation to visit Addis Ababa, Ethiopia came from the ONE Moms campaign. Suddenly, I was going to go somewhere. I was going to visit a place that wasn’t surrounded [...]

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