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Ellenore's Note

For me, a new year is always a time for reflection and setting intentions. I have never like resolutions because inevitably I fail to meet them; I find setting intentions to be much more effective.  

The year 2019 was an incredible year for OHBD.  We blossomed into a legitimate publisher with a catalog of 80 titles in three languages available on Amazon and making their way to Ethiopia on a regular basis. The quality of the art, stories, and support continued to grow as well.  

OHBD is a heart project for me and many others.  We are disciplined about goals and deliverables, but also prioritize fulfillment.  My intentions for OHBD in 2020 are to continue our focus on innovation (trying new things) and collaboration (working together) to increase positive impact and ensure we are spreading joy to all who are involved.  

In particular, this year we plan to focus on:

  • Building on the amazing momentum of hundreds of people, from kids to fine artists and award-winning authors, coming together to capture stories worth telling that delight both the creators and kids.  We plan to work with more schools to create new books, as well as seek sponsorship from organizations that might want to share their mission through a children’s book.
  • Increasing the number of libraries in the US (and anywhere self-publishing capabilities are available) that carry our books. The Seattle Public library has shown us what is possible by carrying all our titles in all three languages (Amharic, Tigrinya and now Afaan Oromo).  We also saw interest outside of our area, and our books are now carried in select Colorado, Minnesota and California libraries. This is a sustaining source of funding and awareness building as well as a valuable language and culture preservation effort.
  • Engaging more East African content creators and keep growing the types of stories and peoples we represent.  We saw nice growth in 2019 and want to encourage that to continued.  We piloted our first #ReadySetGo Africa book about West Africa and are looking to add more books to that series in 2020.
  • Expanding our base of support to organizations, companies and individuals that can help us grow faster and smarter like those with a footprint in Ethiopia, the US and Europe, or innovators who want to sponsor book creation, program or project work that is dear to them (like our Gondar Library project, more on this coming soon).
  • Getting our books in the hands of many more kids around the world, including the Diaspora, but especially in Ethiopia through partnerships small and large. These efforts include individuals taking books overseas with them (see more on that below), other NGOs focused on education using them, and expanded printing and distribution.

One of my childhood heroes captured this all so well in a single quote:

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."
–Helen Keller

We are excited to see what we can do together in 2020. Join us!                                                                                           ~Ellenore


Introducing new Afaan Oromo titles!

Did you know that the most used spoken language in Ethiopia, and the fourth most used in all of Africa, is Afaan Oromo? In Africa, native speakers of Afaan Oromo outnumber speakers of every other language except Arabic, Swahili and Hausa. Ethiopia and the United States are home to most Afaan Oromo speakers, which is why we are excited to announce that we are working with Ahmed Dedo Gemeda to offer our books in Afaan Oromo in addition to Amharic and Tigrinya!

Ahmed is an Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature at Haramaya University, where he teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students. He is also an editor, translator and reviewer of academic, technical and literary works. Check out Big, Bigger, Biggest and An Egg Can Walk in Afaan Oromo and English, and watch for more titles coming soon.

Find copies of all of our books, in all three languages, at the Seattle Public Library. When we last visited, all but one of our #ReadySetGo Afaan Oromo language books were checked out.

Do you know of a library that could use our beautiful bilingual early readers in Ethiopian languages? Contact us!

OHBD and LA-Based Q.Me Place Deliver Remote Coding Instruction to Students in Jimma
OHBD and the Los Angeles non-profit Q.Me Place recently completed an 11-week cloud-based course on HTML, CSS, and Javascript taught by instructors in the United States.

The class entailed weekly large-group lectures by live video streaming followed by one-on-one and small-group tutoring using the Q.Me video queuing and matching platform. The class concluded with a one-hour coding competition, the Q.Me Cup, during which students developed speculative websites for the fictitious business, Jimma Coffee Company.

“Every country needs to own their IT,” says Ellenore Angelidis, Founder of OHBD.

EthioCoders, Winner of the Inaugural Q.Me Cup Coding Competition at the American Corner in Jimma on Saturday, November 2, 2019

“Giving young people critical coding, technology, and leadership skills they can apply to create value in their communities is critical for local, national and global economies.  These skills will also help equalize opportunities for talented youth.”

Ken Divelbess, instructor for the cloud coding course and Vice President of Technology & Programs at Q.Me Place, agrees.   

“Coding and software is now mainstream.  These are essential tools that young people everywhere need to survive in today’s world.”  

Vinod Mapranath, Founder of Q.Me Place, believes these skills can be supplemented through crowdsourcing.

“It’s heartening to mobilize volunteers from Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle and direct them to eager students in Africa, particularly in critical areas like IT.”

In addition to computer science, a reading-tutoring platform matching early readers with native English speakers is in early deployment.

OHBD and Q.Me Place are working together to expand the introductory coding class to additional American Corners. They are also exploring “open office hours” and a virtual bootcamp that could leverage experts from anywhere in the world.

The American Corner in Jimma is one of seven American Corners currently active or opening in Ethiopia.  It is also part of a network of more than 700 American Corners globally.  American Corners are resource centers, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Embassy, for information and programs highlighting American culture, history, current events, and government.  Operated as partnerships, the U.S. Government provides equipment and materials while host-institutions provide staffing and the free use of space.

Featured Artist, Daniel Getahun

We are thrilled to feature Daniel Getahun’s gorgeous digital paintings in an upcoming title called Andromeda. Daniel is a gifted painter and illustrator who brought the rich history of Ethiopia to life in A Story of Hope and The Boy Who Never Gave Up. We are so grateful to him for donating his precious time and exquisite skill to help us make books that reflect the beauty and style of Ethiopian art and culture.  We are excited to continue to develop more beautiful #ReadySetGo books featuring his amazing pieces.

The painting above is one of Daniel's favorites.

“The reasons of why I volunteer are to build on existing experience and skill and make a difference to the lives of others, meeting new people and making new friends.” -Daniel Getahun

Frehiwot Addis shares a selection of our books with Ethiopian students.

Our Books Are On the Move!

I truly enjoy watching our books journey around the world.  We have orders coming in from as far away as Japan, India, and Brazil.   

I also love hearing from supporters who just discovered them, like a woman in Germany who went on to share them with friends and family.  I am so grateful to the individuals and organizations who reach out to take the books with them to Ethiopia to support a specific organization or to give to locals they meet.

We had a number of books delivered overseas recently by friends of OHBD.  Mekonnen Kassa, a long-time supporter who is also a major funder of the Gondar library project, brought books with him there; the school and kids loved them. 

Ethiopia Reads Board member Matt Andrea took books to Lalibela to share with a school there (and shared two of the pics we used in this article!).  And Eyayu Genet, one of our illustrators, brought them to Bahir Dar, which is where his new book Surprise on Lake Tana is set, and where he calls home. 

Our Gala Speaker and author/illustrator of an upcoming book Frehiwot Addis brought them with her to share in Addis with kids who have cancer.  And the Marie Barrington Armitage family brought the books with them on their trip to share with people they met including kids that visit the Yekatit 23 library – the first OHBD effort.

If you are traveling to Ethiopia, or support an organization there, consider bringing some of our books with you.  We offer discounts for books heading back.  We promise the reaction you get will be priceless. The gift of books and literacy is an empowering gift!

"The OHBD books are so colorful, easy and written in both local and English languages which are really attracting the kids to develop reading habit and to understand the content of the books. In addition, the story books are concentrating on the history, the tradition and culture of Ethiopia. So the students are improving their reading skill and at the same time know about their history."

-Zemene, Gondar Library Project Manager, Link Ethiopia

Feel inspired to help us increase literacy in Ethiopia?

Volunteer! Our books are written and illustrated by volunteers, from students (children and adults) to professional writers and artists. Work alone or with friends to fill our pages with colorful images that will go on to help countless bilingual readers learn to read in their native languages!

Buy a book! You can find all our bilingual Ready, Set, Go! titles on Amazon. Available in Amharic, Tigrinya or Afaan Oromo (and English). Every sale helps support our mission to increase literacy and preserve indigenous Ethiopian languages, culture and history.

Become a sponsor!  Your monthly donation helps pay for the creation and production of bilingual early readers, funds Model Programs and projects like building libraries for Ethiopian schools, and is tax-deductible!
Sponsor Us!
Buy a book!
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