Hello 2019 + Moments of Ethiopia
I hope you are all doing well and that you had a wonderful 2 weeks of the new year already. I just landed back in Germany and am currently on the train back to Berlin.
It is hard to put into words what happened over the past 10 days and especially the days together with the girls, their mothers and the staff of Girlsgottarun.
This has been in the works for so long, and while we have been supporting the foundation and the girls through activations, events, flea markets, creative projects, raising donations and awareness including this last fundraising campaign over the past years, we really didn’t know what kind of impact we had with our time and resources.
I don’t know how to even recap the whole experience. It was tremendously life changing, and I have learned so much, not only about myself, but also about us as people. About sisterhood, womanhood, pure joy and strength. Confidence. About empowerment and courage. About hospitality and generosity. About running and discipline.
Right before we left for Bekoji, my dear friend Faith reminded me, since I was looking at a tough trip ahead, that I need to focus on joy. On the colors, the sounds, the smells. On the girls and on the community. That this is my first time in Ethiopia. And that I cannot let any negative energy flow into the trees and into the soil of this country.
Moments that I really appreciated:
_holding hands with Coach Fatiya
_sharing my ultra-relay leg with Fatiya and Sukare, the coach and the program manager of Girlsgottarun during sunset
_seeing the girls with glow sticks running towards us in the dark and singing and clapping along as we finished our last kilometre of the leg during the Bekoji 100 Ultra-Relay
_visiting Destas and Zabus home and feeling so loved and welcomed by their hospitality and generosity
_having dinner at Sadias house and seeing her smile in the candle light (while there was power, we kept the light turned off, it was very pretty this way)
_walking across Bekoji with Desta and Zabu in my arms
_witnessing the sun as she rose every morning in Bekoji
_listening to the girls sing as we drove from Bekoji into the Bale Mountains National Park
_watching Sukare and Coach Fatiya smile
_having all the thick juices and all the barley snacks
_playing UNO cards with the international athletes and Muley, Sukare and Fatiya
_watching the trees dance in the wind
_running behind the girls as they worked out in the forest, on the government campground and on the track
_sprinting next to them
_giving up my personal space and becoming closer with old and new friends
_not having wifi or service for a full 7 days
_staying in the present moment
_pushing through to the top of the mountain together with everyone and telling myself not to quit
There is much more to come and I will be posting some more on Instagram as well.
In the picture above, I am with Sukare, the program manager, Running Coach Fatiya and Sadia, the assistant to Sukare, taken by Tori. In the picture below, you see my dear friend Nichole from New York together with Zabu, the 17-year old team captain of the athletic scholars of GGRF.
Although it will take some time to process everything, it is already very clear to me that I will continue supporting GGRF and will return to Bekoji as soon as possible.
If you'd like to get involved yourself and learn more, head to Girlsgottarun.org to find out.
THANK YOU again so much for your support.
I wanted to pass these words to you along from GGRF's strategy manager, who said to Nichole and me during the celebration ceremony after the relay: "Be proud of yourself. Without you, these mothers and girls wouldn't sit here in this room with us to celebrate. You have helped them change their lives."
Sending much love and strength to all of you, xx
Edit: This was published through the Goldtogreen letter on January 15th, 2019. Sign up here to receive news and updates 1-2x a month!