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Hello from the project team & Awra Amba’s 40th anniversary

28 Aug 2012, Posted by visitawraamba in Project update, Reflections
I

have decided to start blogging more frequently for a number of reasons: 1) most of my life in the last year or so has been taken up by Awra Amba and this interactive project we are working on 2) We want the project to be as transparent as possible, so that our audience knows us and we know them 3) Awra Amba will turn 40 in 10 days time and I am going to write about our journey to Ethiopia (that is, if we make it there) and the event itself.

I have known the Awra Amba community for nearly 8 years. In that time I have had the pleasure to visit them 6 times, often many weeks at a time. Over the years we have developed a strong bond and what was in the beginning a slightly over-excited, young filmmaking graduate shooting some footage with a small handycam, has now grown to a very important and lasting creative collaboration with the community. I have huge respect for the people in this village, for their resilience and entrepreneurial spirit, not to mention their never-ending kindness and tolerance towards all human beings. This is an ideology that makes sense to me. An ideology of peace, justice and love. Not politically or religiously motivated but a purely humanist ideology. What Awra Amba has achieved through belief, intelligence (especially emotional) and plain hard work is simply incredible.

I cannot miss their 40th anniversary.

The news came a week ago during a Skype phone call with Gebeyehu (he is part of the guest reception team and also does all the financial stuff in the village); you will meet him properly in one of the films when we launch the web documentary. I had known about the possibility of the 40th anniversary for nearly 2 years and had always planned to be there, but due to limited telecommunications in the area where Awra Amba is located, we had not been able to speak with them for several months.

I was beside myself when I heard that the event would take place in less than 3 weeks time. After an hour of frantic planning and thinking, Serdar and I decided that we would find a way to go. Other work priorities would simply need to wait. However, the next day, news came from Ethiopia that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had passed away. I realised immediately that this may cause us additional difficulties, as understandably the country would be wrapped up in funeral organisation and the like. Over the last couple of days, we have been trying to get a visa from the Ethiopian embassy in Turkey, chase an invitation so that we can obtain a business visa, and find a way to finance our trip (as our dangerously low bank balances won’t allow it!). Today we finally sent off our visa applications and precious passports to Ankara with the hope that they will return them to us in time to catch our flight next Tuesday.

Now we just need kind visa officials, a bit of good luck on our side and we will be off! We are so excited to see our Ethiopian brothers and sisters soon and honoured that we have been invited to this very special event.

More to follow soon…

Paulina

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