4MM Ethiopian first graders need #ReadySetGo Books - each $1 donated gets us one book closer We have an audacious goal to get #ReadySetGo books to all 4MM first graders in Ethiopia. We need partners of all sizes to help make it a reality. We are launching a campaign to get at least 100 monthly donors to sign up for $10 or more in the next 30 days. Each $1 given means one more book gets printed and distributed to an eager young reader in this East African country. During this campaign, we will send a beautiful Stephanie Schlatter art poster – Visit Ethiopia and Be Moved – to each generous donor – while supplies last. Thank you in advance for helping us get more books in the hands of deserving children.

Ellenore’s Note!

     Each Act of Support Ripples Out in Beautiful Ways and Sometimes the Ripples Concentrate...

     Minneapolis is a city I visited only a couple times in my life. It has a rich history starting with the Sioux tribe and now is home to a diverse population including a large number from East Africa. But recently, Minneapolis kept popping up for me. First, we received news Minneapolis public libraries were carrying some of our #ReadySetGo books and even better, people were checking them out.  The hope is to get the library (and those in cities with large Ethiopian Eritrean populations to carry all our books like the Seattle Public library does.  Dr. Woubeshet, a Minneapolis based cardiologist, introduced our books to the library and is encouraging the community to use this resource to teach the next generation, Amharic and Ethiopian stories.  Dr. Woubeshet has also been an amazing supporter of the Amharic versions of our #ReadySetGo books.  He also recently agreed to join us as an Advisory Board member. In addition, he is interested in train the trainer efforts for medical and health workers.  We believe collaboration should provide value for everyone so are honored to support his work too.
     Then we received a note from Books for Africa, based in you guessed it, in Minneapolis.  We were thrilled to learn they are exploring publishing culturally appropriate mother tongue books. We are working on a test with them now to see if we can publish some of our #ReadySetGo books to make available in Ethiopia as we constantly get requests.  We also learned they can provide free textbooks if we can fundraise the cost of shipping. That is now in the works to support our Innovation Center Pilot, train the trainer efforts, described in more detail by Yirga Worku.  Books for Africa had heard of our efforts through a supporter of Partners for Ethiopia, Ingrid Olson, who also supports our work.  She gave a glowing description and encouraged the leadership of Books for Africa to reach out to us. 
     These developments are all wonderful.  And they reinforce for me again the power of connection and individuals working together.  Each person who shares our efforts helps created a bigger ripple of positive impact.  People like Dr. Woubeshet and Ingrid are precious because of their willingness to use their talents and network to solve complex challenges like literacy.  As one of our early books, We Can Stop the Lion, reminds us, if we work together, like the spiders, we can solve hard challenges like Literacy, represented by the lion.  Help us spread the word. Buy two books, keep on and give one as a gift.  We have ambitious goals that require a huge global village to accomplish and so far, the support just keeps growing in beautiful ways. Thank you, Ingrid, Dr. Woubeshet and every one of the hundreds of people who have helped us get here!! And thank you in advance to those who will step forward in the coming month!  We need you all!

                                                                                                            ~ Ellenore      

Nothing is Impossible if You are Motivated!  Innovation Center Pilot - Train the Trainer Update by Yirga Worku
(Dr. Worku’s brother; his brother Lakw is also leading these efforts)
     This has been a year of experimenting for the Innovation Center Pilot efforts including train the trainer STEM education.  We first explored training students in Ethiopia via Skype or other online video conferencing apps. The students we targeted were mostly from universities. We thought it would be easier to start training there in the pilot phase and then move to high school students. However, we face logistical difficulties because of the availability of internet.  In the face of these challenges, two universities really stepped up.
     Jimma University led the way. Wollo University took a bit more time but by summertime they were up and running too. Because both allocated more bandwidth for this training, we were able to conduct weekly STEM trainings at each this summer. (Mekelle, Bahir Dar, and Gondar Universities haven’t yet so they are currently on hold).
     The classes ranged from freshman to graduate-in in computer science, information technology and software engineering. We mainly trained how to be a good software engineer/developer focusing particularly on addressing the gap in basic and advanced skills. We wanted students to learn how to solve problems and to understand technology concepts by relating to real-world examples. In addition, we shared our personal life and work experience from Microsoft, which inspired the students and built up their confidence. We also conducted weekly lab sessions on projects to solve problems. Finally, before vacation, we gave reading assignments and encouraged students to give training to other K-12 students. Some students promised to report back when they return to school.

Creating Magic One Word and One Stroke at a Time! - by Jane Kurtz

     When my sister (and fellow creative director for Ready Set Go Books) and I returned from our trip to Ethiopia in the spring, we had lots of catching up to do on books that were in process before we left. We also dug in to some useful and exciting new things. Based on feedback from partners in Ethiopia, we instituted a proofreading step for Amharic translations. We began design work on some books created by Ethiopian authors and/or illustrators in the U.S., Canada, and Ethiopia. One of these—The Boy Who Never Gave Up! —tells the story of the boy who grew up to be St. Yared, inventor of the way much traditional Ethiopian music is written. Another features the recent enormous (probably word-record-setting) effort in Ethiopia to fight de-forestation by planting more than 300 million trees in 12 hours. Still another will show the adventures of two children visiting the Blue Niles waterfall in Bahir Dar.
     Other volunteers have also continued to be generous with their illustration time and talents. This outpouring of support allows us to show images of daily life in Ethiopia in the pages of the Ready Set Go Books. Katie Bradley, whose daughter is adopted from Ethiopia, donated artwork inspired from her visits to various places in Ethiopia including the cities of Dire Dawa and Harar. She has also worked with continuing education teachers and students at Clark County Community College in Vancouver, Washington to provide watercolor illustrations that show celebrations, landscapes, animals, markets, and many other glimpses into beautiful Ethiopia. Gina DaCruz, another adoptive mom, painted lively, joyful scenes of the coffee ceremony for We Love Hot CoffeeFor many children in Ethiopia, these pictures and words will be the first time they will see themselves in the pages of books. As an educator famously put it, books must offer children both mirrors into their own lives and windows into the lives and ideas of other people. That’s the way the magic works!

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“Reminisce, How I miss Ethiopia”
- A letter by Stephanie Schlatter

     I miss the smell of eucalyptus and the high mountain air. The rolling hills that seem to go on for just about as far as that endless and entertaining African sky above it.
     I miss Ethiopia. The bouncy smiling children calling out to say hello. The chiming of cow bells coming up behind us as we painted by the sides of the roads, nearly devoid of vehicles. People and cattle rule these roads — people who had never seen plein air paintings before, and most of whom stopped to learn more. I miss the views in every direction, looking out in the distance and seeing the far-off hills of Kenya and the Sudan way out there, seemed so close and all so lovely. The rhythm of life that cannot by any stretch be glorified, but is — without a doubt — vibrant, colorful, rich in culture and character, and simultaneously harsh and unfair.
     I miss the smiling faces of the people and the general sense of aliveness. Death also feels nearby, and perhaps that is part of what is so vividly alive.
     Even the bouncing of our truck and the music it rocked to as we traveled the land in search of yet another gorgeous place to paint, holds a place of great fondness inside me. That road just held so much visual stimulation and wonder. Then there was the laughter. The kind of laughter that comes from doing what you truly love. And the laughter that comes from being a stranger in a new land. Of course, there were low points, I got sick, but not terribly. I woke up with flea bites on my face — just don’t ask. But that’s all harder to remember. We as a group all needed to lean on each other at one time or another, and I miss my group. I miss it all.
     I’m finding solace in the art. The series is not done yet. But here is a sneak peek at some of the paintings that came from this magnificent trip (Ethiopian Artwork). My paintings from Maji are still available and for sale and I will be giving all the proceeds to OHBD.

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