It’s an expression you hear all the time. It’s something we fall back on at convenience – to express the overwhelming task of appreciation. gratitude. goodness. you name it – the trusty ol’ saying covers it.
I returned this week from Ethiopia – where I spent 15 days taking it all in. We worked intimately with the education goals and communities of Imagine1day to build schools in the northern region of Ethiopia where a new generation of leaders await. Where communities hope to elevate their place in the world with books and pens and paper – under the simple and important truth that education is, in fact, freedom.
Or should I say…there are too many.
Too many words and stories and photos of sweeping changes and great progress and limitless beauty and take-your-breath-away moments to narrow in on just one giggle-cry. or one child who stopped me in my tracks. or one elder who expressed his gratitude in a way I only wish I could bottle up and share with you.
I live for this stuff. I live for the people who stop you in your tracks with their joy. I live for the kind of global exchanges that remind you “we are all in this together.”
And I live for the telling of stories with words and cameras. But to be honest, I’m completely overwhelmed, in that best kind of way, by the responsibility to give a voice, to be an ambassador for the country and its people who have taught me so much. A country that is filled with incredible capacity. an incredible capacity for joy. for community. for bountiful crops and bright spirits. an incredible capacity for prosperity – one rich in education.
I’m patiently waiting for the stories to come to my pen in the way I feel they ought to be shared. In the meantime, I’d like to introduce you to the Ethiopia I’ve come to know. One that has so very much to teach us. These are the faces of the kids your kindness reached. These are the communities you said YES to. These are the landscapes you believed in. This is the country that will not let your generosity down.
(**after pushing play on the slideshow, please pause it to allow it to load fully or it may stall on you**)
I’m infinitely grateful for every effort each of you has made in this journey. Know that your contributions were never just a number. Your contributions have changed, forever, the lives of children who are so eager to learn, who want to study at desks, who want to grow up to be doctors and engineers. You are not just a number to the lives of their parents – who are deeply committed to education, who wish to see their children grow up to have lives grander than their own. And your dollars are not just a number to village elders who said to us, and to you, that through this school they can now move “out of the dark and into the light.”
Thank you for being the light.