Saturday 13 October 2012

Tuesday I made a model cry! (Ethiopia Day 3) #ONEMums

Can you believe that?  Aren't I mean?  I really did make an American top model cry and I certainly did not mean to, I was so pleased later to hear they were tears of joy and nothing else.

I'll explain -

I'm over in Ethiopia at the moment and I am with 11 other super awesome bloggers and they are all really cool and seriously well read, the one I was chatting to yesterday has about 1.25 million page views a month (yes million, yes a month and yes I felt quite inadequate!), but as well as these beautiful and compassionate superstars of blogging there is also an Ethiopian born top model on our trip with us.  Gate Maya Haile is 5ft 11" and stunning, even in her casuals with hair scraped back she turns heads wherever we go. And guess what?  She is super nice, a real fragile beauty inside, quite shy, you have to get to know her a little and then she opens up and you find her warm and giving heart.

Image Credit

Maya is on the trip with us as she is passionate about ONE and also about her birth place of Ethiopia, she has 10 children that she sponsors here at the Mary-Joy organisation and that was how we came to visit there a couple of days back. She is also doing a great job of being a cultural guide to us, so many questions I have put to her in my attemps to learn and understand more. Her tasks have included helping us with our language, translating and just showing us what a down-to-earth kind of girl she is. And this is a lady with a celeb lifestyle - as a model she is provided with desginer clothes to wear and show off, she is married to celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson and in conversation she has talked of meeting various famous Americans and is a common face in US magazines. With that kind of lifestyle, this is somoene who could be a bit self-important but she is not at all, she is genuine and lovely. But best of all has a heart for helping Ethiopia and it's people.

On our way back from our school visits today we were all tired and stopped chatting to have a rest on the bus. I thought Maya and the other lady near me were snoozing so I decided to make a sound cloud audio recording for the blog today.  I thought it might be nice for you to hear the roads and the hustle and bustle of Ethiopia as we travelled. It was only a short recording and when I finished I could hear Maya sniffing a little and I must admit my heart sank as I thought maybe I had overstepped the mark and upset her. Not knowing her too well I did not say anything and just kept quiet.

Later at dinner we sat next to each other and I can't recall how the conversation came up but she said I had made her cry earlier and of course I apologised and said I feared that I had upset her.  Then in her beautiful soft accent she said 'oh no, I was so happy, to hear someone talk that way about my Ethiopia, I have not heard it before' and I think that sums up one of the issues. Those old enough like me, recall the faminine of 1984/5 and we still have that old image of Ethiopia in our minds but that is not the Ethiopia I see here today.

And here is Maya with Jen Howze, Cherry Friedmeyer and I

I text my husband earlier and said I would love for him to be here, we would explore and have such fun. There are good quality hotels, phenominal food, warm people, sunshine and great places to visit - hmm sounds like a holiday destination to me.  I will definately be posting about Ethiopia as a holiday destination once I return home, spurred on by a comment I received on an earlier post which upset me at first and I thought was very negative but actually the commenter has made me look at Ethiopia in this different way.  Yes there are problems but there is also a lot of beauty and great points going for it.

This is a land of progress and hope, one of the directors at DFID (Department for International Aid) confirmed this for me when we spoke earlier today. Yes there is a long way to go but Ethiopia started from a disadvantaged position and in the last 5 years they have had 7.8% ecomonic growth year on year, I think this beautiful country has mightly potential.

Go Ethiopia, you done good girl!

I have included the sound clip so you can hear what I was saying, it is just a sum up of the day we had at the schools. I did not think it was anything special but I am glad to have touched Maya.


If you think others will enjoy taking this journey with me, then please share this and my other ONE Ethiopia posts and don't forget to sign up to ONE and offer your voice. I am taking this journey with Jennifer Howze of BritMums, so do follow her journey too and follow #ONEMoms #ONEMums on Twitter.

I am currently in Ethiopia travelling with a group of 11 other inspirational Mums and Moms as part of an expense paid trip courtesy of the ONE Campaign. Our trip is about success – Living Proof -- of what is working and why it is important that we continue to support projects that are making a huge, measurable difference for less than one percent of the entire US budget. It is about letting more people know what a tremendous difference the US and UK are making in the lives of millions around the world.  And it is about adding thousands more voices to those already letting their elected officials know they support these life-saving programs.