No more7847725.jpg are the sounds from the local mosque’s Call to Prayer waking you at 5am, the morning smells of burning brush, coffee beans roasting or the sight of donkeys being overloaded with their daily goods and heading out to local markets. There was something about this that became so soothing and welcoming each morning as our team planned the day ahead.

I have to offer some insight here on the Studio Samuel team, as they’re quite extraordinary. Each year members of our Board of Directors give up valuable, personal time away from their jobs and families to make this trip. None are paid and all use vacation time that could otherwise be spent sipping umbrella drinks on a white sand beach (ahhhh…). Instead, they opt for packing three outfits, which will be worn over & over again because all remaining airline baggage allowance will be used for the aid they’ll drop in Ethiopia. They enter a world of unpredictable power outages, make-shift plumbing, no internet and no guarantee they’ll have a shower that day or the next. These are rigorous, emotional and life-changing trips that I wouldn’t miss for the world with this group and am so appreciative for all they do.

Clockwise from top: Tamara, Biruk, Sarah, Jamel, John, Mairead & Marissa, 

The best part of our recent trip? We had two guest-travelers, who fit in like they’ve done this each year. I can’t ruin the surprise of what’s to come, but I’ll leave you with this…our International Day of the Girl celebration this October will be like no other! The stories captured by John Delaney (photographer) and his assistant, Mairead (an activist for women’s issues in Ireland) will take on multiple forms. The talent between these two is quite remarkable and will prove to tell our girls’ stories in the most powerful way.

After spending this time in such close quarters with our team, it’s strange to sit in my living room, alone, at 3am and listen to the city sounds in the background. (this jetlag is no joke) Thinking of our girls, our team, our Ethiopia family and friends and already planning for next time!

Stay tuned…

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