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His Excellency

Posted by Maureen Sunday, March 11, 2007

Yesterday, I met His Excellency, President Girma Wolde-Giorgis of Ethiopia--secret service agents and all. I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Ethiopian Poverty Relief Summit in Springfield, MO at Hope Community Church. Coinciding with the President's visit in honor of all the relief work this church has done in Ethiopia through an NGO called Bright Hope, the church organized a conference for faith-based NGOs that are focused on or active in Ethiopia. My wonderful friend, Sesha Shannon, owner of Convey Studios, graced me with a place on the special invite list (for which I pretended to work for the ONE Campaign). :)
The Pastor of Hope, Gary Hay, welcoming His Excellency at the Presidential Banquet on Friday night. Yes, President Girma is a large man--I understand the irony so, for the record, comments on that aren't necessary. He's a good man, well-loved by the Ethiopians, unlike their PM.Myself and Sesha, premier photographer and favorite of His Excellency. That little pin on her right shoulder is a mark that clears her to be within a certain vicinity of the Pres without getting tackled by secret service.

Two specific things I took from the weekend are 1) A more informed knowledge about the Faith Based Initiative of USAID (US Agency for International Development). The Director of this program was one of the conference speakers. 2) A more informed knowledge about the specific poverty issues in Ethiopia (as opposed to Southern Africa in general). During a Q&A session with the Pres, he repeatedly emphasized the need for sustainable activities, specifically foreign assistance in reforestation (100 years ago, 64% of Ethiopia was covered in forest, today, 3%) and clean water projects. He was clear that dumping off planes full of food are not what they're looking for. It just makes sense.

I could definitely share a lot more about the weekend, but mostly I want to shout out to Sesha for hooking me up to rub shoulders with heads of state and lots of NGOs who had much more of a right to be there than I. You can see some photos from her very recent trip to Ethiopia at Convey Studios--click on "view my event online" and type in Ethiopia.Speaking of Sesh, she and I both lived in Hong Kong at the same time, which is a beautiful piece of our connectedness. She graced me with a late Christmas gift of some amazing photography from HK that brought tears to my eyes. It will soon be on display in my living room if you want to come over. Until then, check out this little t-shirt I gave to my friend Becca for her baby shower, also this past weekend. I've been saving it every since I was in HK last Spring.How cute is that. It even has a fairly accurate depiction of the skyline, except the Bank of China tower isn't pink. :) Enough said for now. . .

2 comments:

NJ said...

You can be the president...

I'd rather be the Pope

Aaron said...

Some time I'll have to tell you about my dad's time in Ethiopia. He grew up there. My little sister is adopted from there as well. It is a beautiful place with a beautiful people.