November 22 2009

Ethiopian Cultural Exchange Project

Sunset at Arba Minch, Ethiopia

“Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the people of Gemini, get under your skin…” This sentiment was echoed by photography worker Alison McGann and music worker Laura Bradshaw after just a few days of working with the Gemini Trust. The smells, the sounds, the colours, but always the people take your breath away.

For 2 weeks Laura worked with Towelda the music teacher at Gemini, working with thirty Gemini beneficiaries and staff and twenty 3-6 year olds from daycare – rehearsing Ethiopian songs, other African songs and Bob Marley’s One Love. The highlight was hearing the Gemini community choir sing Ar Lan Y Mor in Welsh and Amharic, which was indescribably beautiful. The Gemini Community Choir is now running every Tuesday, and Towelda and Shewangi are developing all the breathing exercises and vocal techniques that they worked on with Laura.

Alison worked with young aspiring photographers from Gemini. Each day she gave them a series of words and phrases such as strength, joy, ‘the two of us’ and others to interpret in whatever way they wanted. Alison will now be working with photographers in Betws (where we are based) using the same words, to form a new exhibition linking the two communities through creativity. There was also an original soundtrack written by the Gemini musicians in Addis Ababa, and our Betws Community Choir will work with our musicians Laura and Neil White to add a Betws slant and create a fusion CD.

The project culminated in a concert to celebrate the Gemini Community Choir, the Adugna community dancers and the photography project. Attended by friends and family of Gemini, the performance was amazing with everyone dancing and singing in the aisles.

There’s so much more to say, but we’re still processing it all. Every day was bursting with laughter, hard work and joy. We feel so lucky to have been part of it all and look forward to working with the Gemini Trust again soon.