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Influential ‘Mom Bloggers’ visit Ethiopia for first-hand look at global problems and solutions

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – This month, a dozen ONE Moms (and ONE ‘Mums’ from the UK) visited schools, farms, health clinics and other sites in Ethiopia that have benefited from development assistance as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the unique challenges facing women and children.

The ONE Moms – invited by ONE, the global anti-poverty group cofounded by Bono – is a movement of moms everywhere using their extraordinary power to spread awareness for the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease. These moms are leading a movement to promote education, engagement and activism on behalf of the world’s poorest. During their trip to Ethiopia, the mom bloggers posted stories, photos, maps, and more on their blogs, the Huffington Post and via SoundCloud, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, ONE Moms blog, and Tumblr.

“There is so much life and joy here, but from a healthcare perspective, there’s very little infrastructure for basic services,” said Asha Dornfest, the Portland-based editor and founder of Parent Hacks. “Once those challenges can be met, and most Ethiopians have access to basic healthcare, people can set their sights beyond survival…What people need is an opportunity to envision a more secure future.”

The ONE Moms/Mums team included a brain scientist, a middle school principal, a hog farmer, authors, lawyers, photographers, food writers and full-time moms who are passionately committed to fighting global poverty, hunger, malnutrition, preventable disease, and other maladies that disproportionately affect children and families.

Gabrielle Blair, a mother of six and author of the Design Mom blog, saw how $30,000 in foreign assistance over five years has led to improvements at one Ethiopian high school that now boasts a 90% passing rate on university entrance exams.

“This kind of funding is important. This aid makes a difference,” she said.

On October 11, International Day of the Girl, the group visited an Addis Ababa site run by the Population Council, an organization that provides girls in urban slums safe places to learn and helps them acquire education and life skills so they can prevent pregnancy, avoid HIV and gender-based violence, and increase their chances of finding paid work.

Liz Gumbinner, the New York City-based founder of Cool Mom Picks, blogged about her meeting with a 23 year-old Ethiopian woman named Saba. When Saba was 11, her father died and she was sent to live with relatives who didn’t accept her. Forced to wait tables, Saba couldn’t make ends meet until a neighbor introduced her to the far more lucrative prospect of commercial sex work.

“We learned that, in Addis, tricks start at 25 to 30 cents,” said Gumbinner. “Only the highest paid prostitutes earn $15 for a single act. There are 150,000 prostitutes in Addis. And just under 75 percent of them are HIV positive.”

Fortunately, Saba eventually connected with Women at Risk and fashionABLE, groups that help women escape from extreme poverty and exploitation. As a scarf maker at fashionABLE, Saba now earns a decent living.

“Can you imagine feeling like [prostitution] is the most reasonable choice for your survival?” asked Gumbinner. “Selling your body for 25 cents? Well, now it’s not. When you buy a scarf, you are giving [Saba] a better choice.”

The full list of trip participants included:

  • Alice Currah, a cook, baker, writer and photographer from Seattle, WA: www.savorysweetlife.com  @SavorySweetLife
  • Rana DiOrio, an investment banker, lawyer and Founder and CEO of Little Pickle Press from San Francisco, CA: www.littlepicklepress.com  @LPP_Media / @RanaDiOrio
  • Asha Dornfest, the Founder and Editor of Parent Hacks from Portland, OR: www.parenthacks.com  @parenthacks
  • Cathleen Falsani, the Web Editor & Director of New Media at Sojourners from Laguna Beach, CA: www.sojourners.com  @godgrrl
  • Liz Gumbinner, an ad agency creative director and the Publisher and Editor in Chief of Cool Mom Picks and writer for Mom 101 from Brooklyn, NY: www.coolmompicks.com / www.mom-101.com  @coolmompicks / @mom101
  • Christine Koh, a music and brain scientist turned writer, editor, designer, and consultant from  Boston MA: www.bostonmamas.com  @bostonmamas
  • Diana Prichard, a hog farmer from Fowler, MI: www.righteousbacon.com  @Diana_prichard
  • Maya Haile Samuelsson, an Ethiopia-born model, philanthropist, and wife of Chef Marcus Samuelsson from Harlem, NY: www.marcussamuelsson.com
  • Kelly Wickham, the Assistant Principal at a technology magnet school from Springfield, IL: www.mochamomma.com  @mochamomma
  • Karen Walrond, a speaker, writer and photographer from Houston, TX: www.chookooloonks.com  @chookooloonks (*Official Photographer)
  • Gabrielle Blair. A graphic designer and art director living in Normandy, France http://DesignMom.com @designmom
  • Jennifer Howze,  a journalist, blogger and co-founder of BritMums from London, UK: http://www.jenography.net/
  • Michelle Pannell, blogger and mother of two children from London, UK: http://mdplife.blogspot.co.uk/ @michelletwinmum

Following a ONE Moms trip to Kenya last year, ABC World News named ONE Moms as the ‘Persons of the Week’ for their commitment to helping change the lives of the world’s neediest families.