Art Aid for Tesfa's Stephanie Schlatter is featured in Rapid Growth's Do Good section! One of Stephanie Schlatter’s favorite quotes is by theologian Saint Augustine and reads, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”If true, then globe-trotting Schlatter would be considered an avid “reader” of the world. The first international trip for this former hairdresser was to the Grand Canal in Venice -- a place that not only triggered tears of joy, but a love for travel that eventually inspired a new career involving it and art.After noticing poverty in subsequent trips to India, Thailand, Mexico, Nepal and other places, she founded Art Aid for Tesfa in 2006 to bring art to the children of Ethopia. If art programs in America are the first to get cut, Schlatter figured these kids didn’t have a chance. She personally believes art is more important than math and that colorful art helps children survive in a sometimes difficult world.“I got involved because I believed in the power of art,” Schlatter says.
I am very pleased to announce today that I will be supporting the Tesfa Foundation's newest initiative in Ethiopia - their 5x3 project to build five new schools in the next three years. And you can help me! -Liz Hughes
Blogger and Bookseller Liz Hughes is supporting education in Ethiopia by donating part of her business profits to schools 3 and 4 of our 5x3 initiative! Please click here to read about how her daughter helped inspire this fundraiser and then help Liz help support education in Ethiopia.
Tesfa is excited to share this news about 5x3's fourth school. We are grateful to the East Family who will lead the way! Meet Theresa, John, Eva, and Macy Birtukan.
Fascinated by East African history in college, Theresa East developed a great appreciation for various cultures and people. After getting married to her best friend Jonathan, settling into their home in Tennessee, and having a daughter Eva, they later decided they wanted to adopt a little girl from a country in East Africa, ultimately leading them to Ethiopia. Over a year after starting the adoption process, they found themselves landing in a country that would forever change them. “When we stepped out of the airport, loaded in the taxi, and drove to our hotel late into the night, we could smell the soil, the spices, and the diesel fumes…we were finally breathing the same air our Ethiopian daughter was breathing. We immediately felt connected to this place.” Before meeting their daughter Macy Birtukan, they walked the neighboring dirt roads near their hotel and stumbled upon a beautiful Ethiopian woman in a nice dress with a welcoming smile who was heading to church that Sunday morning. She invited them to attend the service. The service was a powerful experience. The attendees were mostly women, calling out in their high pitched sing song voices, praying in a rhythm that sent vibrations through the room. The minister stood on the platform, quieted the room, and turned to Theresa and Jonathan and the other families that visited and said, “Thank you for helping our children. Bless those children. Do not leave and forget Ethiopia. Remember Ethiopia.”
The Easts have been a family of four now for two and a half years. Macy Birtukan has added so much joy to their family. The Easts have continued to make connections to Ethiopia, including attending a Tesfa fundraising event in Los Angeles to help build a school in southern Ethiopia. A year later, when the opportunity to get more involved in building schools in Ethiopia presented itself Theresa says, “It felt right. I heard that voice again. ‘Remember Ethiopia, do not forget.’ And I felt such an overwhelming sense of honor to be a part of this project. We are humbled. For Ethiopia has given so much more to us. We now have extended family in Ethiopia. Our hearts are there too.”
The Tesfa Foundation is excited to announce 5x3's school #3! Two incredible families, The O'Connors and The Tinkhams, will take the lead on funding this school just outside of Mudula. The families run One Moon Ethiopia, a parent-established, parent-led organization whose goal is to unite families and friends of adoption, honor children's heritage and support projects in Ethiopia. One Moon Ethiopia has previously partnered with Dr. Rick Hodes, Lola Children's Fund, Mudula Water, Selamta, PLAN and Project Eden. From One Moon:
The Tesfa Foundation is thrilled to have One Moon, their families and friends lead the way on 5x3’s school number 3!
Our families met in Ethiopia in February 2007 while completing the adoptions of our children. Our families each adopted a sibling set of two girls. All four of our daughters traveled to, and stayed together, in a care center in Addis Ababa. Little did our girls know that this initial friendship, started by circumstances beyond their control, would be the beginning of a lifelong connection between our families here in the United States. Little did we know that our adoption journey would be so much bigger than we ever imagined. Our lives have been forever changed by Ethiopia. We are awed by the melding of our families and by the connection we have to our children's birthplace. Our families also share an awareness of the need for partnerships in Ethiopia.
Access to education is one of those areas in desperate need of partnership. We have witnessed this great need for education on our subsequent visits back to Ethiopia, specifically on our visits back to the Kembata Region. When Tesfa introduced the 5x3 school initiative, we jumped at this awesome opportunity to get together and build a school. How could we not? How could our families witness the need for school partnerships in Ethiopia, know the value of an education, and not participate?
We are honored to join together with the community in Mudula and The Tesfa Foundation on School #3. We are eager to bring our families and friends together on this great educational partnership, and hope others will join our team. Like many of our past projects, our fundraising will be child-generated and parent assisted. Our past projects demonstrate the power families have when they unite as one.
5x3 gets off to a great start thanks to Liz and Jon Moss. The Moss's have fully funded the $56k to build school number one in Durame. They left Wednesday for Ethiopia, where they will meet with Tesfa and Ethiopia Reads staff and start scouting for their location. They plan to raise funds for school number two as well, beginning with a fundraiser on April 11th in Iowa. Read their story below.
Liz: My grandfather had an 8th grade education. He worked hard his entire life, living frugally and simply on the same farm for over 60 years of his life. He loved to see his two daughters and his six grandchildren live out life through education and travel. He rarely stayed in a hotel, preferring the comfort of his own bed. And, never took a vacation far from home, except if it was a day trip to watch a harness race for one of the horses he trained. He left a legacy of deep faith.
Four years ago, Jon and I started to fall in love with Ethiopia. It grew as we brought our two sons home from Ethiopia (3 years ago and 1 year go). And it grew deeper as we traveled and met the beautiful people in this amazing land. I truly have left part of my heart in Ethiopia each time I left this country I have grown to love. I dream about it, think about it, and read as much as I can about Ethiopia. Ethiopia has changed my life--much more than just our two sons. When we traveled there last January, we went away committing ourselves to doing more in the future. We came across the Tesfa Foundation -- actually through a chance meeting at the Addis Ababa airport with Mike Schumacher from Wisconsin, who supported Tesfa School #7 -- and we were intrigued. We have been dreaming and praying about this opportunity for the last year.
My grandparents both passed away in the last five years. Not only did they leave a legacy of faith, but they left money for their children and grandchildren. We don't understand how and why they lived on so little for so long, leaving us with so much. We truly see this as a gift and want to give some it of away. With Ethiopia in our hearts and in our life, with a desire for everyone to have access to education, and with an ever growing faith, we desire to partner with Tesfa to build schools in Ethiopia. We are committed to this long term. The people of Ethiopia have changed my life...we're just humbly trying to change a few other lives.
The 5X3 program is committed to building five schools with libraries in the Kembata-Tembaro region within three years. If you would like to donate to 5X3 School Number Two, you can do so here. And if you would like to apply to be one of the five leads on school fundraising, please fill out our application here.
Today construction concludes on Tesfa’s eighth school, in the village of Kololo in southern Ethiopia. Many people came together to make our eighth school a reality. An empty plot of land was transformed into a beautiful school in just a few months. Our Tesfa team, while working in Kololo, noticed a few things: the people are welcoming and warm, that the landscape is dramatic and beautiful, and that there is a dire need for education in all the nearby villages.
Preparing for construction in Kololo, Ethiopia, the site of Tesfa's eighth school
Now, the Tesfa Foundation is excited to announce its newest initiative, 5x3! Five schools built in three years in the Kembata Tembaro region.
Imagine clusters of villages in which no school is available. Through the 5X3 initiative, we propose to offer five new schools in the region, linked with effective new teacher recruitment and training, linked with deep rural literacy programming to reach even further into the countryside, using our new schools as bases. Moreover, we propose that these schools will provide bases for regional public health education efforts. Schools are more than schools in rural Ethiopia; they are platforms for community development.
Interested? Building new schools requires strong communities. We are currently recruiting for five funding communities to support five schools. Please click here to let us know that you would like to help build schools in Ethiopia or click here to simply make a donation now.
Completed Kololo school and library