After an amazing time in Morocco, we ventured across the entire continent of Africa to Ethiopia - land of some of the most beautiful people on the planet.
Shortly after arrival, we hosted a morning of games, songs, crafts, and snacks for the children of our artisans and other women living on the Entoto Mountain. Those living on this mountain are there to wash in the holy waters in hopes of being cured from AIDS. They’ve been ostracized from society and struggle to survive each day.
Our partnership helps to employ 109 HIV+ women from this mountain, giving them opportunity for healthcare, income, and education for their children…ultimately breaking the cycle of poverty and providing them hope and life.
It was a joy to witness our group fall in love with the women and children in our partnership. The impact of the connections formed with them was profound and beautiful.
To capture the essence of our time with the Raven + Lily artisans, I thought it would be good to share quotes from the ambassadors that came with me. Here’s a glimpse of Ethiopia in their words:
“Sitting with the women, listening to them talk about their lives and share techniques on beading filled me with the unmistakable conviction of the real role of Raven + Lily. Certainly, the company creates jobs and the Ethiopian women can improve their lives with an income. But the community of women built through the investment of Raven + Lily helps women to hope, and hope can be much more difficult to create. Making this beautiful jewelry offers women a chance to really engage with one another and hope for a better future.” -Candice DePrang Boehm
“I don’t know if I ever believed in love at first sight until I went to Africa. It had nothing to do with the scenery, the food, the accommodations, the weather or any of the normal reasons you fall in love with a place while travelling. It had everything to do with the massive outpouring of love we received from the children, the women, the church and the complete strangers who embraced us as though we were lifelong friends. People think of Africa as poor, but they are so rich in the things that really matter in life and it has inspired me to try and live more like them. ” -Danielle Gano
“Ethiopia allowed a perspective to enter my life that did not exist prior to my trip. We can know of poverty and sickness in Africa …but to see it first hand humanizes the need. A great responsibility comes with this experience…. A responsibility I am forever changed and grateful for.” - Tiffany Schwedland
“Meeting the women that run the organization was a true honor. It was so inspiring to see Ethiopians committed to empowering those around them, to seeing that everyone—even the most vulnerable—had something to give. I believe now more than ever that having something to contribute is part of what makes each of us whole.” -Trevor Boehm
“I journeyed to Ethiopia heavy hearted after losing my mother just a few weeks before and wondering what if anything I’d have to offer to people who needed so much more than I had to give. What I found and experienced was beautiful and loving people who embraced us whole-heartedly and ended up filling my cup to overflowing. The language of love and expectance transcended all language barriers and left all our hearts singing. I cannot wait to visit again and the beautiful memories of the women we met keeps bringing a smile to my heart! Thank you Kirsten, Raven and Lily and the beautiful people of Ethiopia!” - Marion Darbyshire