ONE Mom Blogger, philanthropist and model Maya Haile Samuelsson is traveling to Ethiopia with ONE in October. This blog post is part of our coverage in the lead up to the trip.
I would like start by sincerely thanking all the ONE Moms who are sacrificing their time and energy and lending their voices to echo the need for partnership in bringing real change to many Ethiopians and to celebrate the progress made so far. It is my pleasure to be part of this group and find one more reason to see my beloved country, family and friends.
Before I head off to Ethiopia, the country where my family is from, I want to share the culture and hospitality of Ethiopians. Ethiopia is home to many nations and nationalities. With more than 80 different languages (yes, 80 different languages spoken by more than 80 million people) and identities, it will be a futile exercise to name and describe all of them. So let me talk about the Gurage ethnic group, which I belong to.
The Gurages (pronounced “goo rah gay”) are one of the smallest ethnic groups in Ethiopia, making up only 2.5 percent of the total population. The Gurage people are highly entrepreneurial people with a culture of social mobility that celebrates hard work. As a result, the Gurage are represented in all business sectors in Ethiopia, ranging from shoe shiners to owners of big businesses. One of the most famous Ethiopian musicians, Mohamoud Ahmed, still recalls how he started out in life shining shoes in the city before he got his break and joined the music orchestra that allowed him to capture the imagination of millions of admirers both in Ethiopia and abroad.