Hi all,

My dear friends Carolyn and Tatiana have pooled their efforts and talents to continue doing some fundraising for our Ethiopia Reads Library and the training of a librarian .  The very talented Tatiana has donated one of her custom designed felted scarves for a silent auction at Niagara College and is also donating 25% of the purchase of any of her creations during the month of December.   They are BEAUTIFUL! Here is the one up for auction and the link to her facebook page “Lali and Tati”


(scarf retails at $ 45.00 and the flower can be used as a pin)

An email from Tatiana:


Dear Colleagues,
I believe that you all are aware that Carolyn is trying to raise funds for Shari’s library project in Ethiopia. I have decided to donate one of my hand made scarves (felting) for a silent auction to add to the fundraising efforts. The silent auction will take place during the staff Christmas party (bowling).
In addition, if anyone would like to buy other scarves as presents for their friends, relatives or even themselves in the month of December, I will donate 25% of the price towards Carolyn’s goal. (Prices range from $35.00 to $75.00 for handmade felted wool and wool/silk scarves+no retail mark-ups!).
Living in a country where books are often taken for granted, we would all agree that the gift of reading and discovering new and exciting world should be available to every child. Please think of this silent auction as a great opportunity to be a part of a big and worthy cause and getting a beautiful handmade scarf as a token of our appreciation for your generous gift.
Thank you in advance for your generosity.
Carolyn and Tatiana



A few library updates

I’m so happy that little by littl things are still moving forward with the library. Here are a few of the things that are still going on.

1. My friend Carolyn organized a Home Decor sales party. I think share raised just over $200 with sales (30% to Ethiopia Reads) and donations. Her goal is to raise $500 to pay for the training of a teacher/librarian.

2. I also have a book donation event at Chapters with Mark Zelinski. Mark is the local photographer who donated 100 beautiful photography books to Ethiopia Reads. It will be at Fairview Mall St. Catharines at 2PM on Saturday December 3. Rotary District 7090 Polio Plus, Rotary Youth Leadership and Big Brothers Big Sisters St. Catharines-Thorold and District (among others) will receive book donations. I will attend to share some information about Ethiopia Reads and officially accept Mark’s donation of books.


3. Jane recently sent me a recent reprot to the Board of Ethiopia Reads. Here it is:


Dukem: The first container was moved to Dukem Primary property, and we are negotiating with metal workers to add windows, doors, and skylights. Then the kids will paint it, and we’ll move in furniture and books. This reading room will be for students and community, probably in shifts. I have been speaking with US Embassy staff about making this a site for their ‘American Corners’ program. (more below.) The container is set on the property’s edge and there will be a door open to the street. Books will be moved in after shelves arrive. Kindergarten teacher training is scheduled for the end of NOV. Part of the delay in implementation is the negotiations over the project proposala and project agreement with local officials. There has been no resistance at all, and officials have been cooperative, but the talks and the bureaucratic response have been slow. We anticipate full implementation by mid-DEC.

The American Corner: I had a meeting this week with Diane Brandt, public affairs officer at the US Embassy, about the American Corners program. This is an embassy program that provides in a few select community libraries with books and periodicals, computers and software, and outreach programming. The program is facing budget cuts right now, but we had a productive talk about possibilities. I will be turning in a proposal to her in the next few weeks that will offer options for partnership in a range of our libraries that include a community library component, including ER&T pilot Dukem, Fregenet, and the ARC. She’s thinking that if we can provide creative outreach of our own and add public health components (which I would want in any case, given their resources) we might be able to reach across programs and pull funding from several sources. Cross your fingers!


Can’t wait to visit Ethiopia and see the library in action!



p.s. If you would still like to make a donation, just drop me a line and we’ll get this library off to a great start!


A Little Update

Dear Friends,

Here is an update, short but sweet, from Ethiopia Reads. As you can see, progress is being made little by little on the library itself , and teacher training is scheduled too…how exciting! 

Having reached our goal of $10,000, our fundraising efforts have been on hold this Fall. However, maintaining and sustaining this little library is something that I will make a priority for myself for some time to come.  If you were thinking about donating last year, but didn’t get the chance, it’s not too late.  I would be happy to take any donations and will put them directly toward enriching and improving library materials and teacher training. You can send them to me directly, or if you prefer donate online. Our beaded bookmarks ($7)  and photography books ($20)  are still for sale, and my friend Carolyn is hosting a home decor party in November.  I am also really hoping that in the New Year we can host an Ethiopian celebration dinner.

Many thanks for your  continued interest and generous support!

I can’t wait to visit this library!!!



Here is the message from Emily at Ethiopia Reads

Hi Shari,

I hope all is well and you’re enjoying fall (or is it winter up there now?).

I have a quick update on progress of the library in Dukem.  Negotiations have begun to add some windows, doors and skylights. The kids get
to paint the library, then we’ll move in furniture and books. It’s at the property’s edge and there will be a door open to the street for community use.
Books will be moved in after shelves arrive. Kindergarten teacher training is scheduled for November.

Let me know if you have any questions,   Emily

Emily Pramik
Office Manager
Ethiopia Reads
1700 Humboldt
Denver, CO 80218


Hi Everyone,

Time flies! It has been a beautiful summer, and it is shaping up to be a lovely Fall as well (if a little rainy!!)

My summer was both relaxing  (a trip to Martha’s Vineyard) and busy (lots of renos to my condo), and now I am back to work at Niagara College, but it is time to check in on our little library.  Things slow down in Ethiopia over the summer as it is the rainy season, but they don’t stop!  It’s yet another grey and rainy day here in Niagara, but I shouldn’t let that stop me either!!  Here are a few updates on the progress of our library.

In June, a huge container with thousands of books headed for Ethiopia!  In that container were books that have now been delivered to the library that we have “planted”.  Jane Kurtz wrote a post on her blog about that amazing undertaking!       http://janekurtz.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/triumph/

In addition, in June, a number of teachers, volunteers and friends associated with Ethiopia Reads took a 20 day journey around Ethiopia, stopping to visit and work at various schools and libraries as well as tour some of the amazing natural and cultural sites of the country. Emily Pramik, (ER office manager) sent me the blog of one of the participants.  Have a look. The folks on that journey seemed like great people, and there are a number of photo albums, one in particular of DUKEM, where our library will be located.  At this point, I think the Dukem was just being identified as a place to “plant” the library.

Hmmm, just a thought for the future: 

I think that one day I would like to take a group of people from here…ANYONE INTERESTED?  (have a look at their itinerary)


After getting back from Ethiopia, Emily was able to send me some of the details about the library.You may recall them from an earlier post that I made this summer:

“It’s a library for a school in Dukem near the town of Debre Zeit (about anhour from the capitol of Addis Ababa). Dana, our country director that works in Ethiopia, is really excited about the project because it has a fast turn around time and potential to be great. We also have a chance to build the facilities, as a current library building doesn’t exist, so it will be custom-made to work as a quality library. Because of the construction it’s a bit more expensive than our usual libraries, but it’s looking like we’ve established a connection with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Civil Affairs unit and they’re interested in doing construction for us free-of-charge. More on that soon.”

Jane Kurtz, my first contact with Ethiopia Reads, is an amazing communicator and connector of people. I really appreciate when she keeps me in the loop, and I love reading her blog.  Interspersed with personal memoirs of her childhood in Ethiopia and her life today, you will find information about the work that Ethiopia Reads is doing, (the many labours of love being undertakenby people who care about reading, books, children and Ethiopia).  It is also a chance to share in her ponderings on life, family, reading, culture and so many other things.  Have a look; you won’t be disappointed.


Here is my latest email from Jane:

Hi, Shari.

I met with some others for a strategy session for Ethiopia Reads in Denver this weekend, and we were talking about how inspired and delighted we’ve been with your fundraising.  With the school year starting up, I know Dana (cc’d on this post) is working really hard to get the new library and literacy projects going in Dukum.  It’s going to be terrific, and I wanted to be sure the two of you were connected for an update on the early steps.

Best, Jane

And  an excerpt from another:

Dana spent a good chunk of  the rainy season in the UK and is just back to Ethiopia, so I know he’s been pretty crazy busy, but I also know how close that project is to his heart, and I’m sure he’ll be getting you some thoughts and pictures soon.  It’s exciting to see other pictures of sites and school starting up…Jane

And one from Dana:

Hi Shari,

I do owe you a progress report. The school year has begun, and things are already happening. The biggest news about the Dukem project is that we have delivered the first container from our summer book shipment to the school grounds. Within the next few weeks, doors, windows and skylights will be cut into the container. Then it will be converted into a community and school reading room. Books and furniture will be moved in. Meanwhile, in OCT, implementation of our early childhood education project at Dukem will get underway, improving classroom furniture ,teacher training implemented, and new school materials purchased. If it’s all right to wait, I would like to get a more formal report to you, with photos, in mid-OCT. Would that work?

Thanks!   It’s a fun project.


So that’s about  it for me on this rainy Saturday.

I think I would like to have one more fundraiser…a celebration…perhaps to further support the library and the early childhood centre that  will accompany it.  There is an Ethiopian Restaurant in Hamilton, and I would like to organize a party there, perhaps with Ethiopian dancers.  I am looking at a date in November and will get to work on it asap.  Would anyone be interested?  Let me know. I hope you can ALL make it!

Working on this library has been an amazing experience for me. Many thanks for all your support this year; I will keep you posted and I hope to see you soon!

Love, Shari

p.s.  Although it’s rainy again today, I’m on the look out for a rainbow.  This photo is of a rainbow in Ethiopia, but I thik the Irish have the best thoughts on the topic.  Here is an Irish Blessing for you:

“May you always have work for your hands to do.
May your pockets hold always a coin or two.
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.”

Hello my Ethiopian Reading Angels…look to the right…look what you have done!!!  $10,265.00… and climbing!



$750 from students, colleagues and friends in Dubai arrived this morning and it has pushed us over  the top!  THANK YOU! 🙂

I am waiting for some updates and photos from Ethiopia Reads…which I will share with you straight away! So, I’ll get the details together and write a little report as soon as they are available.

We will continue to do a little more fundraising in the Fall for additional costs, materials, PD etc. for our library. I hope to be able to take them and visit the library some time in the coming year.

I have floated the idea of an Ethiopian dinner and MANY of you are interested, so I will set that up for some time this Fall with WASS Ethiopian Restaurant in Hamilton…what a great way to finish our fundraising…with a celebratory dinner altogether!!


Love, Shari


Today is a very fun Friday…yesterday I put the cheque in the mail!  Yahoo!

I was nervous to mail the cheque. We just had a postal strike in Canada, and it surprised me by how inconvenient it was not to have the mail service.  I hadn’t realized that despite email, I still rely on the post for many things!

Anyway, this prompted me to think about our stamps and how beautiful they are.  You can really learn a lot about a country just by looking at the images that they use to put on their stamps and how they reflect their changing values and priorities over time.   Here are some from Ethiopia!

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(oops a few non-stamps in there too!)

And, here is a link to the official website of the Ethiopian Postal Service…just out of curiousity!


And just for fun,  here is a  youtube video  of a news broadcast about more buses for improved postal service.

COULD STOP RIGHT HERE: BUT if you’re a bit of a history geek like me, here’s what Wikipedia had to say about the development of the Ethiopian Postal Service

This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Ethiopia.

Long an independent state in Africa, messages were originally carried by couriers called méléktegnas, who held the letters attached to a stick.

As part of the 1867-8 invasion that culminated in the Battle of Magdala, the British established a field post office at Massawa (then a port of Ethiopia) in November 1867, using stamps of British India. The territory of Harar was taken by Egypt in 1875, and in the following year a post office was established; letters from there used Egyptian stamps canceled with a maltese cross.

Establishment of a postal system

Ethiopia’s own postal system owes its existence to Swiss engineer Alfred Ilg, an adviser to Menelik II of Ethiopia. Having convinced Menelik of the desirability of a post, in 1893 Ilg had Frenchman Leon Chefneux contract with engraver Louis-Eugène Mouchon to design a set of seven stamps, four depicting Menelik, and three with the heraldic lion. These were printed by the Atelier du Timbre in Paris, along with four values of postcards, and shipped to Ethiopia in December 1893.

Imperial edict established the Ethiopian postal system on 9 March 1894, and Ilg was put in charge of the details. Initially the tasks of cancelling and forwarding letters were entrusted to the Catholic mission at Harar. After a delay occasioned by the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, Ilg hired several Swiss postal officials and they began organizing a system of postal bags carried by the railway that was being constructed at the same time. The Harrar mission continued to process all mail until 1904, when a post office opened at the newly-established town of Dire Dawa.

Prior to the admission of Ethiopia to the UPU, in 1908, international mail had to be franked with stamps of UPU members. France operated post offices at Addis Ababa, Harar, and Dire Dawa, using stamps of Obock or the French Somali Coast, and mail is known with a triple franking of Ethiopia, British Somaliland (via the town of Zeila), and Aden.

In the meantime, it was discovered that Ethiopian stamps sold by an agent in France at a discount, for publicity purposes, were being shipped to Ethiopia and used on mail. As a prevention, beginning in 1901, stamps were locally overprinted in different ways each year, and were only valid for postage with the overprint.

UPU member

A new issue of seven stamps in 1909 marked UPU admission, and in addition to Amharic, included Latin inscriptions “POSTES ETHIOPIENNES” and the value in guerches.

The coronation of Zewditu I of Ethiopia and regency of Prince Tafari was marked in 1917 by overprints on the 1909 stamps. In 1919, a new definitive series of 15 stamps included portraits of Zewditu and Tafari, along with various native animals, and inscribed “ETHIOPIE”.

In 1928, a set of 10 stamps depicting Tafari and Zewditu was issued and soon after overprinted, first to mark the opening of the General Post Office in Addis Ababa, and a month later for the coronation of Tafari, the latter overprint including the phrase “NEGOUS TEFERI” in Latin letters. Overprints in 1930 commemorated first the proclamation and then coronation of Tafari as “Haile Selassie”, followed by a series of 7 stamps depicting the coronation monument and various symbols of empire.

Italian occupation

In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia, annexing it the following year. Italy issued seven colonial stamps inscribed “ETIOPIA” starting in May 1936, then put the postal system under Italian East Africa until the territory was liberated in 1941.


The first stamps after liberation were a series of three depicting Haile Selassie, with the denomination printed in lower case, and reissued as a set of 8 three months later, with the denomination in all capitals. Subsequent issues typically, though not always, included a portrait oval of Haile Selassie in the design.

AND THAT’S WHERE IT STOPS…nothing about the development of the modern Ethiopian Postal Service…I think somebody better get on wikipedia and update that info!  🙂

Oh well, as long as the mail gets through!  AT LEAST MY CHEQUE IS ONLY GOING AS FAR AS DENVER…EXPRESS POST!

I’d like to share a little moment in my day with you:

July 27, 2011, 1:45 pm

TD Canada Trust, Geneva Street, St. Catharines

Bank Teller:  “Congratulations, you’ve built a library!”

Me: “Who knew banking could be so emotional?”

Yes, this is a direct quote from yours truly, welling up and searching for kleenex, as the young bank teller presented me with a US Bank Draft for $9,600 US Dollars.  ($400 has already been donated directly online to Ethiopia Reads). Yes, as embarrassing as it was, I could not contain the tears of joy!  Hey, they really should have kleenex at the bank…I’m sure I’m not the only one who has wanted to cry there!

Even though we haven’t quite reached our fundraising goal, I really wanted to take advantage of the great US/CAD exchange rate and send the money to Ethiopia Reads this week.  I bought US dollars today for .9639 CAD and in the process earned approximately, $347 dollars for our fundraiser…now that was a real BONUS!!!!  Talk about great timing!

So we have only $880 dollars more to raise.

We will continue to fundraise this Fall to reach our goal, ship the photography books to the US, and build a small fund for some professional development workshops and resources when we go to visit the library.  It would be a dream come true for me to go and visit and/or work at the library while I am in Ethiopia picking up my daughter (now affectionately known in our family as Baby E). If visiting this library or volunteering some way is something that you would like to do, please let me know and I would be happy to work with Ethiopia Reads to make this happen.  This little library will be a part of our lives for many years to come.

I am humbled by the generosity and support of so many wonderful people, and I just can’t thank you all enough.

Thank you my friends…for the tears of joy!

And the smile that is worth the praises of earth is the smile that shines through tears.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Before the reward there must be labor. You plant before you harvest. You sow in tears before you reap joy.
Ralph Ransom

Both tears and sweat are salty, but they render a different result. Tears will get you sympathy; sweat will get you change.
Jesse Jackson

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.
Washington Irving

Tears of joy are like the summer rain drops pierced by sunbeams.   Ballou, Hosea