This month, fourteen committed runners will join elite athletes Scott Jurek, Gebre Gebremariam and Werknesh Kidane for the first ever trail race in the cradle of humanity, culminating a week of shared contribution to the eye health and educational strength of Ethiopia.
Osprey athlete, climber and writer, Majka Burhardt is producing the project, called Accelerate Ethiopia. The expedition sparked as an idea for a fundraising running event to benefit the Himalayan Cataract Project, an leader in providing high-quality, low-cost eye care optimized for the developing world. Majka pulled in another nonprofit, imagine1day, which is a charity educating the next generation of leaders in Ethiopia—and together they created Accelerate Ethiopia.
As Majka prepares to leave on her journey to Ethiopia we caught up with her for a few questions…
imagine1day is a growing, global community of people making passionate contributions to ensure every child in Ethiopia receives a quality education.
Last month, representatives from imagine1day presented brand new Osprey Packs to their Class 2016 Graduate Fund students. The fund is designed to support high performing students from poor and disadvantaged households in rural Ethiopia in completing a full course of high school education (grades 9-12) and in developing as future leaders of Ethiopia. The packs were brought to the students by the Imagine Ethiopia 2012 crew, who traveled to Ethiopia’s Oromiya Region after raising $100,000 to fund the cost of a primary school project for the remote rural community.
Learn more about what you can do to help by visiting imagine1day.org.
This October, a powerful, engaged and curious team is heading to Ethiopia to change the world, and change how they interact in that world. Usually, I’d be joining them. But this year I need you to take my place.
Imagine Ethiopia 2012 is the third iteration of a dream I helped create in 2009 with imagine1day. Our goal was simple: enable others to have their lives profoundly affected by Ethiopia by enabling them to profoundly experience Ethiopia. For the past two years I have co-led the trip with Sapna Dayal and a select team of other leaders. Together we have created an experience blending culture, adventure and connection along with an initiative to raise $100,000 to build schools in Ethiopia. This year’s school is in the Alose Community in Oromiya.
I can’t go on Imagine Ethiopia 2012—I will be in Mozambique for my Lost Mountain Project. But you can. Here is how…
At the top of a mountain, under the hot sun stands a tall eucalyptus tree. Under the tree sit children packed tightly together on stones, dusty earth beneath their feet, no protection from the afternoon heat. There are no desks or books. Yet every day the teacher carries in the one village blackboard and begins a new lesson. And every day the children arrive, some after walking for over two hours, eager to learn.
imagine1day is a group of movers, shakers and change-makers committed to the next generation of leaders who will carry Africa into a new era of prosperity — with a goal to give all Ethiopians access to quality education funded free of foreign aid by 2030 — in a world where all people are connected to their greatness.
Ethiopia is one of the world’s poorest nations, but despite this it remains full of promise and its government is cooperative and committed to education for all. Our good friend Majka Burhardt recently landed safe and sound in Addis, Ethiopia with a slew of Osprey Packs for scholarship recipients at imagine1day. Thanks to Majka for her passion and for bringing this incredible story to us here at Osprey. Stay tuned for updates from Majka when she returns from here adventure…
Learn more about imagine1day and how you can help send children to school in Ethiopia here.
PHOTO via imagine1day
Earlier this year, Vancouver-based charitable organization, imagine1day, launched their second annual Imagine Ethiopia trip: a two-week adventure that takes participants on a daily exploration of the best that Ethiopia has to offer.
imagine1day is a growing global community of people making passionate contributions to ensure that all Ethiopians have access to quality education funded free of foreign aid by 2030. They ran their first trip to Ethiopia last year to great success.
Five days ago I drove out of Eldorado Canyon after seven pitches of climbing with two professional women who live in Boulder. We’d spent the day climbing sandstone cracks freshly crisped by the proceeding evening storms. The river roared beneath us for the full day making communication difficult and creating isolation of judgment and choices for each of us while climbing. It was a day where climbing was climbing – the complete pairing of mental and physical connection dialed together by focus. As we drove away from the perfect day Tracy and Amy planned future objectives and talk circled to fall climbing plans. Tracy and Amy talked about Colorado; I brought up Ethiopia
This fall I’m co-leading the second annual Imagine Ethiopia expedition. During the trip we will rock climb, mountain bike, do yoga and further the path and possibility of Ethiopia’s education. And is if that was not enough, we will also explore Ethiopia’s coffee heritage and help celebrate one of its greatest economic drivers. I’d like to say it will just be a standard 14 days in Ethiopia, but I’d be lying.
I first went to Ethiopia in 2006 to search for a rare coffee and stayed for the climbing. The climbing, it turned out, was horrifically soft and loose—two characteristics no climber ever wants to have separately or together. Still, I and four other climbers stuck out what we could, made it home, and then I was supposed to write a book about it.
The book had been commissioned before we found out about the rock quality. I’d set off on the trip thinking I would have glorious climbing experiences in Ethiopia. They’d be difficult, but it would be the good difficult—the kind where you triumph over risk. This sort of triumph was at that time what fueled my climbing—I loved the moment when I would commit to a route, extend further in the backcountry, push harder in some way to get to the place of the unknown. I fed off of the intoxicating moment of tipping into that unknown, and the corresponding sense of rightness when I could pull it off.
But then I was climbing in Ethiopia where it was hard to pull anything off except for the physical rock itself, and I was supposed to write about the success of it all. The project was doomed. Or it was until I started talking about it. I told friends, neighbors and strangers about climbing in Ethiopia and soon realized that what I was really telling them about was Ethiopia, not climbing. Climbing was a fraction of the conversation, and one becoming smaller by the moment when I realized what drew people’s interest. It didn’t take long to then realize that I’d been putting the emphasis on the wrong part of the story.
It’s five years later and I have another book about Ethiopia coming out on August 6. Coffee Story: Ethiopia is the first book ever to chronicle the culture behind the commodity of coffee in the country of coffee’s origin. I have small aspirations with it—such as changing the economy of Ethiopia.
Do I sound crazily optimistic? Good. Just as I believe a book on Ethiopia’s coffee culture can change Ethiopia’s economy I believe climbing can create massive impact in the world—via the climbers. Just like the boaters, the skiers, the runners, the paddlers and even the rollerbladers* can.
That feeling of triumphing over risk I spoke about is present daily for me when I create possibility in Ethiopia. And it’s contagious. My co-leaders and the participants of Imagine Ethiopia 2012 feel it too. It’s why we are all together doing this fabulous trip and raising $100,000 to build a new primary school in a remote rural community in Tigray, Ethiopia. We’re not doing it because it’s the right thing to do in some esoteric way. We’re doing it because it feels right with each step—just like the perfect climb.
If you adventure in any way, chances are high that you would like to have that adventure feeling more in your every day life. Who wouldn’t? I used to think that this always meant I needed more outlandish adventures. But now I know there are other ways to create that elation. And I know when I find the right way when it feels just as good as that moment when you pull off a heady choice in the outdoors. It’s the click. The click of making it and of it making you feel more like you. I spent years thinking I could only find this outside, and now I find it was actually the thing I could use to know what was right in the rest of my life beyond the outdoors.
Tracy and Amy might not be able to join me in Ethiopia in body, but I bet they are going to join me in spirit. Most people want to. You can too. Or you can get fired up about another project and place that creates that click for you. I’d love to know about it.
Coffee Story Ethiopia
What if a food crop could change a nation’s future?
Pre-order the book, watch the trailer, read an excerpt,
believe in changing the world.
Imagine Ethiopia 2011
Support the school, become on of the final participants on this year’s team, catch more inspiration.
The book that started it all.
Catch Coffee Story Ethiopia at the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show
Saturday August 6th
Osprey Packs Booth
10am – 12pm
Book signing and tasting of Ethiopian Tchembe coffee.
This blog was in conjunction with the good people at Pemba Serves
More from Majka at www.majkaburhardt.com
I said yes. imagine1day said yes. And our first Imagine Ethiopia expedition was born. Last September, seventeen people joined us and journeyed through Ethiopia. This October, we’re doing it again.
Each time I travel—to Ethiopia, or to a new city or state—the experience is different and larger than before. That’s the gift of movement and learning. I don’t know what all Imagine Ethiopia 2011 will bring. That will depend, in a large part, on you.
I have no idea who the people are who will change my life in the next two years. I had no idea, two years ago, that a woman making a spontaneous stop in a Patagonia store in California would change mine now. Susanne Conrad caught a glimpse of a tall hardbound book called Vertical Ethiopia. I’d written it, but that didn’t matter to her, then. Ethiopia mattered.
A few months later, a random email appeared in my inbox. Sapna Dayal introduced herself and suggested that we might have much in common. She was the executive director of imagine1day, a non-profit dedicated to changing the world’s future via building schools in Ethiopia. We spent following winter months talking. I’d come home from ice climbing in New Hampshire and watch it get dark and cold in New England as Sapna would pause her afternoon in a rainy Vancouver for us to brainstorm about how to work together in the high desert in the Horn of Africa.
This September 23rd marks the start of our answer. Sapna, Susanne and I, along with Shannon Wilson, are leading a group on a three-week journey of adventure, global stewardship, and scared connection. Together, we’re raising enough money to build a new school—imagine1day’s 7th primary school in Ethiopia. We’re going rock climbing, visiting ancient churches, hiking to schools imagine1day built where the wells that broke ground were often the first ever in a three-mile radius, and more.
Remember when you were a kid and you’d connect the dots on cheap piece of paper to make the Little Engine that Could or Strawberry Shortcake? Remember when you were young enough to not know what you were connecting until it was done? I have no idea what we are all drawing together. I am just one of the dots. I’m a leader dot– the Ethiopia and adventure expert on the trip, but I still have no idea what our picture will look like.
Today I’m kicking off a pre-trip series of etchings via blogs. Come back. Every other week I’ll tell you more about what we’re doing. I’ll post up an audio clip of 1984 ballad about Ethiopia—that I wrote, when I was eight. It’s bad. It’s a ballad. (It was the 80’s).
Learn more, get involved, become a dot:
Photos by rogelphoto.com
What is additive adventure? Majka Burhardt made it up. But she’s betting you might live your life in a quest for the same–when adventure goes beyond exploration and toward cultural and environmental connection. “Additive Adventure” tracks Majka’s forays into the greater world while she asks for the linkages between…everything. Read Majka’s stories of the far afield and track how she brings them close to home every other Friday.