Artist takes a skip through Ethiopia

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By Special to the Monitor

A photographic journey through Ethiopia is currently on display at Village Arts, located at 216 DP Road.
The exhibit features work by local artist, Brandon Stone, as well as the photography of fellow travelers.  
An opening reception is planned from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, where the artist will be present to speak about his work and his plans to return to Ethiopia.
Occasionally something or someone will touch your heart and change your life.  The people and places of Ethiopia have made their impression on Stone, so much so that he hopes to pass those impressions on. What follows is just part of the story and Stone hopes that those who attend the opening will seek out his work at the Coffee Booth and Village Arts to learn more.
Stone notes the following: “Standing on a muddy street corner in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with Samson my translator at my side my senses overwhelm me. A pungent odor of exhaust and livestock fills the air as we dart across traffic trying not to get hit by the auto-rickshaws, three wheel cars that flood the streets. We pass by countless hovels stocked with goods for sale as we traverse the muddy landscape. As we walk, I see young girls cooking corn on makeshift charcoal grills and young boys offering to shine shoes for a menial Birr, equivalent to eight American cents.
“Samson said he was fortunate and grateful to have a place to call home and to have an education; his hope was that some day he would be able to do something to help these street kids who grow up with nothing more than the shirt on their back. As the sun set on the horizon of this developing third world country I was awestruck by the vibrant colors that streaked across the sky, a canvas framed in poverty.
“We drove through the high countryside outside of Addis Ababa to Ambo the next day. My stereotype of the African desserts and jungles were quickly blown away by the rolling hills of the Ethiopian highlands. Even in the midst of what I considered poverty the people of this ancient country were celebrating life. There were groups of children running and jumping through fields of grass with shouts of joy as we passed.
“Upon our arrival in Ambo, we were greeted by three street boys who embraced us as brothers would. I later found out that their lives had been changed thanks to trips like the one I was on. It was not until I heard the life story of these three boys that I was able to truly understand their pain. Our group spent many nights with these three boys sharing life’s stories, burdens, pains, and enjoying good company.
“While in Ambo we spent time with these three street boys and a hundred others that were in the same situation. They were all grateful for the food we offered them and the shirts we put on their backs for the soccer tournament. While they were excited to have food and clothing from us they were more captivated by our willingness to travel to spend time with them.
“As street kids in Ambo, Ethiopia they have been given nothing and are considered the filth of society. So as we would walk down the street with our arms around our new friends others would look on in bewilderment, astonished that foreigners would have anything to do with such filth. I have friends in Ambo, Ethiopia. Friends that I have played soccer with, climbed to the tops of trees with, shared my life story with, and grown to love.  Many of those friends that I made in Ambo Ethiopia are sleeping on the street tonight and some of those friends are not but seven years young.
“A program is currently under way to help my friends on the street in Ambo,
Ethiopia. It will be a home for some of these street boys. A home with loving parent figures, a warm bed, three meals a day, education, and so much more. When this project gets off the ground one sponsor will be needed for each boy to provide half of his financial needs while he attends school and works for the other half. But for now the upfront costs are waiting to be covered. I am staging a gallery show at Village Arts here in Los Alamos to benefit this project. All of the proceeds from the sales will go directly toward these upfront costs.
“A Skip Through Ethiopia” will be on exhibit through the beginning of February.  
For more information, please call Village Arts at 661-2526.