1-25-13 / Steve McCurry Expedition: Omo Valley 2013

Steve McCurry in the Omo.

Steve McCurry in the Omo. 

Steve McCurry, legendary photographer, will be hosting a photography expedition to the Omo Valley in Ethiopia this Summer.

Dates: August 4 to August 14, 2013

This once in a lifetime expedition with Steve McCurry will give access to areas of the Omo Valley which most safaris do not access.

All meals, hotel accommodations, and in-country travel are included. Flights to and from Nairobi are not included. All guests must have Ethiopian Visas in advance.

There will be an optional extension of going even deeper into the Omo Valley with Steve and a very small group.

See expedition itinerary here.

For further information please contact Dallas Raines at dallas@stevemccurry.com.

A portion of this trip’s proceeds will go to OMO CHILD. Thank you!

 

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1-10-13 / Steve McCurry Fine Art Prints and Posters for OMO CHILD

Kara Girl at Sunset, Dus VillageSteve McCurry for OMO CHILD.

Steve McCurry, the world renown photographer, will be offering signed edition photographic prints and posters for sale benefiting OMO CHILD.

Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry in the Omo, Summer 2012. Photo: John Rowe. 

These photographic prints and poster selections capture, through the most famous lens in contemporary photography, the unique cultures of the Omo River Valley.

See Steve McCurry’s Blog about his travels and experiences at “To Save A Child”.

A portion of the proceeds will also benefit the McCurry Studio’s nonprofit, Imagine Asia, helping the people of Afghanistan where McCurry’s most famous image, “Afghan Girl,” was captured.

Email info@omochild.org to place your order for Steve McCurry Prints or Posters from the Omo.

 

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12-06-12 / Tim Williams Runs for OMO CHILD

Photo: Sebastian Humphreys

See Tim’s Coverage in the Rancho Santa Fe Review!

Dear Friends,

Tim Williams at the finish line of a 13.1 mile half-marathon on

December 2, 2012 running for OMO CHILD!

Tim Williams Running for OMO CHILD

Thank you, Tim,

for running on behalf of OMO CHILD.

If you would like to run or bike at an event to sponsor OMO CHILD,

contact us at info@omochild.org.

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10-10-12 / KPBS Interview with Dwane Brown

KPBS Interview, Photo: Sebastian Humphreys

Dear Friends,

Please watch this Interview:

John Rowe interviewed by KPBS 

Thank you and Enjoy!

OMO CHILD

 

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9-30-12 / Back from the Omo, Ethiopia

 

Kara Children, Dus Village, Southwest Ethiopia. Photo: John Rowe.

Dear Friends,

It was an extraordinary summer. In July, we were invited to attend the Kara tribal ceremony to end “Mingi” or the killing of cursed children. After four years of risking his life to change the tribal culture and rescuing children condemned to die, Lale Labuko Zino succeeded in convincing the Kara tribe to stop killing children in the Omo Valley.

Today, in the Kara tribe, the killing has stopped. However, sadly one tribe remains, the Hamer, which continues this horrific practice. One third of the rescued children at Omo Child are from the Hamer tribe and this affects us directly. Omo Child staff, including Lale and myself, continue talking to Hamer elders, mothers, young adults and government officials, educating and advocating for the end of Mingi.

While filming in the Omo Valley this summer, we documented first hand this remarkable historic moment in tribal Africa. We did our best to record the incredible events we witnessed and interviewed people in the tribes who have been directly affected by Mingi. We heard many heart-wrenching stories and saw first hand the joy and relief that ending Mingi brought to the people of the Kara tribe.

We also spent time in Jinka, Ethiopia where Omo Child rents a single-family home for our 37 rescued children. I can report that the children are healthy and the nannies and staff are doing an incredible job in what is a very difficult environment.

Together we can save 37 lives and make a difference in the world.

Meanwhile, the effort continues in the Hamer tribe to stop Mingi. While we work to stop it, we are unable to rescue or care for any additional children. Some Hamer Mingi children will be taken in by people in the surrounding towns outside the tribal land and others will surely perish. It is very sad to know this is occurring. I wish we had the capacity to rescue more children but the reality is we need to focus on garnering enough resources for the children we have already rescued. Your help is needed.

Thank you for making a difference!

All the Best,

John Rowe, Co-Founder OMO CHILD


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9-10-12 / OMO CHILD Vimeo Channel

Have you checked out our latest OMO CHILD videos on our Vimeo channel? This week we’ve uploaded a two part discussion between OMO CHILD Founders, Lale Labuko and John Rowe. Listen to them discuss the historic End of Kara Mingi Ceremony an hour after the ceremony. Simply amazing!

https://vimeo.com/omochild

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8-30-12 / OMO CHILD + Grauer School

Thank you Dr. Stuart Grauer for including OMO CHILD in your Headmaster’s Journal this week! Please visit, http://www.grauerschool.com/2012/this-week/my-hero/ to read Dr. Grauer’s piece on OMO CHILD.

Thanks!

OMO STAFF

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8-25-12 / 1st Annual OMO CHILD Clothing Drive

Clothing List

OMO CHILD is planning its 1st Annual Clothing Drive and we NEED your help!

We are asking for clothing and shoe donations for our 37 rescued kids living in our OMO CHILD Home. We also ask that you please mail all of your donations directly to our home in Jinka, Ethiopia. OMO CHILD is struggling to pay for rent and food for our 37 kids. We simply do not have the extra money to ship the clothing donations.

Please click on the document link above to view each child’s clothing and shoe size. Kindly e-mail us (info@omochild.org) and let us know which child you have chosen to sponsor.  It’s because of supporters like YOU that OMO CHILD is able to continue its Mission. Thanks again for all of your support — your support is greatly appreciated!

*Please Mail All Donations To:

OMO CHILD

Guido Sura

P.O. Box 03

South Omo Jinka

Ethiopia

 

Thanks,

OMO STAFF

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8-23-12 / Kara — End of Mingi Narrative by Stephen Wallace, M.D., J.D.

Photo taken by  Stephen Wallace M.D., J.D. in Dus Village on 07.14.12

Wonderful narrative written by Stephen Wallace, M.D., J.D. who traveled to Dus Village with OMO CHILD for the historic Kara- End of Mingi Ceremony.

The first time Mingi was explained to me I found it hard to believe. What society would support the killing of children, their children? It is repugnant, so unnatural, for a parent to allow his child to be killed.  In fact the survival of our species revolves around the fact that we protect our young from harm. Most parents would die in order to save the life of their child. It was all too hard to wrap my mind around.

Mingi is the killing of babies and small children that are deemed by their own tribe to be a cursed. The Mingi child is felt to be so unlucky to others that if the child is not killed bad luck will befall an entire tribe of people. The practice of Mingi occurs in the tribes of southwest Ethiopia in an area known as the Omo Valley. I just returned from the Omo Valley after my second visit.  I traveled with a group dedicated to saving Mingi children, Omochild.org.

The Omo Valley is named for the river that runs down its center. The Omo Valley contains people that continue many ancient practices one of which is Mingi. By our standards these people live under primitive conditions. There is no electricity. There are no cars. The people are semi-nomadic and live by raising crops, cattle, sheep and goats.   They wear the hides of cattle and goats. The elders that run the tribe cannot read or write. They do not know their own ages and probably have not traveled fifty miles from their village their entire lives.

It is the elders of the tribes that determine if a child is Mingi. In general, children that are born to unwed mothers, children in which the upper teeth erupt before lower teeth, or twins are considered Mingi children. Therefore, a child that has parents that are not married must die. A child with an upper tooth and no lower teeth must die. If babies are born twins they must die. I told you it was hard to believe. Where or why this practice began is not known. There are no written histories for the involved tribes.

The names of the tribes that practice Mingi are the Kara and the Hamar tribes. The Kara and the Hamar believe if a Mingi child is not killed there could be a drought that could last for years or a disease will overtake and kill the tribe.  Any untoward event that harms an individual or the tribe as a whole may be ascribed to the bad luck brought on by a Mingi child. There are individuals working hard to end this practice that has gone on for hundreds if not thousand of years. Their efforts came to fruition when it was announced the Kara tribe would no longer kill Mingi children after July 14, 2012. On that date the Kara tribe ended the practice of Mingi in an official ceremony. I was fortunate to be there.

The first part of the ceremony involved the men of the Kara tribe sitting under a groove of trees just off the Omo River along with invited guests. It was a beautiful setting to end an egregious practice. Many of the Kara elders spoke. The kings of the Hamar tribe spoke.  Government officials in casual dress spoke. I do not know what they were saying. They all spoke different languages. There were translators for the translators.

The women of the tribe were pushed off into an inferior area where they could not see the speakers and not participate. I was sure that the women would be ignored. Then a brave woman rose to speak and walked to stand immediately before the men that controlled the actions and thoughts of the Kara tribe. She too was a member of the Kara tribe herself.   She stared down at the men with disdain in her eyes and spoke in clear confident tones.  Again, I did not understand her language. However at the time I found myself agreeing with whatever she was saying. I later learned she told the men their time had passed. I hope nothing happens to her.

This segment of the ceremony ended with the men hugging and shaking each other’s hands. My sense was they were congratulating themselves for something that should have been done hundreds of years ago.

The second and final part of the ceremony started by the elder males walking in unison to a spot that has historical and spiritual importance to the Kara tribe. Most of the elders wore clothes that did not reflect their native roots. They wore tee shirts, polo shirts, shorts, and sandals. Their dress was no different from ours during the summer except for the bright hats many of them wore. Since they were succumbing to western mores they must have decided to dress as those in what are considered more civilized parts of the world. The elders walked in slowly. They knew they had an audience.

When they got to their special area they sat in a semicircle surrounding a standing sheep and a tribe member holding the sheep. This was not going to be a good day for the sheep.  After the elders were in place the sheep was sacrificed. A knife was plunged in the sheep just above the sternum. As the knife ended the life of the sheep the mouth of the sheep was held shut with the left hand of the tribesman as he maneuvered the knife in and out with his right hand. By holding the mouth shut the muted screams of the sheep were muffled. The sheep soon became limp. The tribesman methodically eviscerated the sheep occasionally wiping the blood off his knife on the wool of the animal. After removing the internal organs the sheep was placed on a fire without having its coat of wool removed.

The sheep was cooked on the open fire as one chosen elder stood and talked to the others. When the speaker was done the sheep was removed from the fire and the hindquarters were removed. The meat was offered to some of the elders. The elders bit off, chewed, and swallowed the meat. At that point the killing of Mingi children officially ended for the Kara tribe.

No sooner than the meat had been swallowed the rain began to pour. Everyone ran for cover. I am certain it was nature’s attempt to clean the stain of Mingi from village.

There were no children sitting among the elders during any of the ceremony. However, the spirits of the thousands of children that had been killed by the practice of Mingi hung in the air. The men sitting in a semicircle with blank looks on their faces were the same men that had pulled children from the arms of mothers and later threw the children in the Omo River to drown or to be eaten by crocodiles. These are the same men that took newborn babies miles from the village to be killed and eaten by wild animals. I had to wonder what was behind those blank stares. Were they admitting to themselves the heinous acts they had committed and how wrong they were? Somehow I doubted that.

There was however one member of the Karo tribe that could be proud that day. That person is Lale Labuko. Lale is a young man that has made it his life’s mission to end the practice of killing children in his village. To his own surprise he was successful. Lale risked harm to himself and his family to do what is right. If he accomplishes nothing else in his life he should have the satisfaction of knowing there will be hundreds if not thousands of children who will play, smile, learn, and grow old because of him.

The other person that should be proud that day was John Rowe. He is an American that has used his heart and his money to save the lives of children about to be murdered by the Kara before the official end of the killing. John continues to support thirty-seven children and plans on saving more.  John is the founder and driving force behind Omo Child an organization that possibly more than any other in the world directly saves children.

John and Lale’s work is not done. Unfortunately the Kara are not the only tribe killing their own children. The Hamar tribe, which is nine times the number of the Kara tribe, is still killing its children for the same obscene reasons.

I have a great deal of hope that the Hamar people will soon come under the influence of Lale and John. It would be nice if the whole world did.

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8-20-12 / OMO Child, Co-Founder John Rowe Receives Award

OMOCHILDAward07.14.12

Our Co-Founder, John Rowe received an award on July, 14th from South Omo Zone Chief Administrator, Molloka Wubneh Toriche.  OMO CHILD was awarded for it’s role in stopping infanticide in the Kara tribe in the Omo Valley, Southwest Ethiopia.

English Translation: Certificate of Recognition for Omo Child — The Wareda (local government) for the Kara, Hamer and Albore region and working to end harmful traditional practices including “Kombaso” or “Mingi” hereby recognizes the leadership of the Omo Child organization and individuals for saving the lives of children in the tribes and ending the long (Kara tribe) practice of killing children. Today your work has released the “yoke” of “Mingi” and contributed to bring sustainable longterm development in our zone. Your organization was a leader against harmful traditional tribal practices and with respect and dignity we offer this certificate to honor your work and achievement with thanks and appreciation.

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