VOGUE, By AKILI KING
Every week, Vogue will be spotlighting the medical workers, teachers, and Good Samaritans who are giving back to those in need during the coronavirus crisis.
“We loved the idea of doing something for the city, while showcasing great Ethiopian talent to a global audience,” said Addis Ababa-born filmmaker, Edelawit Hussien, who is the co-founder (alongside Addis Ababa-based social entrepreneur Gelane Dissassa) of Prints For Ethiopia, an initiative working to feed homeless communities who are suffering during the Coronavirus outbreak. The organization is selling prints of Ethiopian photographers, a roster that includes the official photographer of Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Aron Simeneh; Salome Asega; Alewya Demmisse; and many more.
The initiative works directly with restaurant, Temsalet Kitchen, which is located in Addis Ababa and founded in 2015 by Samira Messner. The restaurant’s mission is to empower vulnerable women by providing job skills training in various field such as cooking, waitressing, and self-leadership. “Temsalet means ‘exemplary’ in Amharic, which encapsulates the ethos of the business. Women equipping and mentoring younger women to unleash their full potential,” Dissassa said, of the remarkable community created through the restaurant. In light of the current global pandemic, Temsalet Kitchen extended its mission to help feed hundreds of homeless kids and families. But, with restaurants transitioning to takeaway services, the homeless have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Such was the genesis of Prints For Ethiopia, a charitable initiative that aims to preserve the livelihoods of the homeless communities within Addis Ababa. “All proceeds of the fundraiser go towards supporting this feeding initiative financially,” Dissassa said. “It’s also beautiful to see the women of Temsalet being able to extend a hand to their own community, as they once had a hand extended to them, too.”
Prints For Ethiopia now has 40 artists, and counting, who are selling their prints for this important cause, ranging from Addis Ababa locals to those from diaspora around the world. “As a creative consultant and director, it was important to do my research and to have a diverse array of works that showed distinctive styles, subjects, and shooting techniques,” Hussien said of the participating artists. “It was nice to put local work in conversation with diaspora work, especially because Temsalet Kitchen is a haven for the artistic community, it’s wonderful to see everyone come together like this.”
And as for what to expect next from Prints For Ethiopia? “It’s important that this initiative also helps to pave ways out of this homeless community’s current situation,” Dissassa said. “We hope to build a sense of community amongst Ethiopian artists at home and abroad while showcasing beauty work for a good cause,” Hussien said. “It’s been truly inspiring to have supports from all around the world.