Michigan Visual Artist Stephanie Schlatter Grand Rapids Artist Stephanie Schlatter
On the Michigan Wine Trail



Art Aid for Tesfa Turns Art and Wine into Education in Ethiopia

Press Release

(GRAND RAPIDS, MI) - January 2012 - Ethiopia is a complex land of beauty, history, tradition, and pride – yet of extreme poverty – that cannot be painted with words, but must be experienced to grasp. Meet two women from West Michigan who did just that: Artist Stephanie Schlatter and Creative Marketer Melissa Timmer, who traveled to Ethiopia December 6-19, making the lives of the Ethiopian people no longer stories, but experiences etched into their memories.

Stephanie and Melissa have returned home from their journey as storytellers to make the lives and realities of these distant neighbors not so distant.

“We worked with beautiful, bright-eyed children with the most engaging smiles I have ever seen,” says Stephanie, making her sixth trip to Ethiopia, “and learned the truth about their lives: the complete lack of opportunity, much less basic human rights like education, healthcare, water and toilets. It was humbling as well as a complete honor.”

November 18, they held an art and wine event in Grand Rapids for Art Aid for Tesfa, a division of The Tesfa Foundation, a non-profit organization providing early childhood education to the children of Ethiopia. Approximately 150 guests bid on or bought almost 200 items, including silent auction offers, live auction and direct-sale art, wine sales, and more, raising an amazing $20,000. “We are so grateful to Grand Rapids for its generosity and philanthropic spirit,” says Stephanie.

"Imagine your child never holding a crayon until they were six years old, something that is unthinkable in the West,” explains Melissa. “Here we do art projects with our children just as soon as we can hold a crayon or a paint brush in their little hands, yet too few children have been exposed to it in Ethiopia. With your help, we provided exposure to art and worked with children who have never had the opportunity to create with color – and we saw a transformation take place, in their self-confidence, joy, determination, and focus; it was such a humbling experience."

Last autumn, we asked, “What good can one person do?” See for yourself what your generosity has accomplished. See their Facebook page for a recap.

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