By Gabrielle.

The other day, I had some beautiful light shining through the windows, so I gathered up the souvenirs I brought home from Ethiopia and had a little photo shoot. I thought it might be fun to do a show-and-tell for anyone who is curious. (Ulterior motive: I thought it might change how some of us think of the Brand of Ethiopia.) Alas, I don’t have shopping sources for any of these items, so if you love them, put a trip to Ethiopia on your travel wishlist. : )

This wasn’t actually a tourist-y trip, so we only had a few minutes of shopping here and there, but I love what I brought home! The first things I picked up were three embroidered toys. A multi-color ball with the amharic alphabet, a pink rhino and a camel.

Oscar adopted the rhino. Betty hangs the camel on a corner of her bookshelves. And June adores the embroidered ball.

Next up in our show-and-tell, a small book of scripture. It’s about 4.5 inches square and covered in leather. The pages — which are also made of animal skin (instead of paper) — are hand painted, and the whole thing folds accordion style.

I’m really drawn to this depiction of Mary and Jesus. So beautiful!

Can you tell I liked taking pictures of the little book? It truly is exceptional.

The bible was a souvenir for Ben Blair, but these little creatures were for me! Aren’t they adorable? They’re hand-carved and they really roll. I guess technically they could be for my kids, but I have them displayed on the living room bookshelf because I think they’re handsome.

Next, we come to Ralph’s gift. I thought it would make a great (fierce!) movie prop.

The detailing in the leather sheath and the rust-colored wire on the tip are just stunning. In my experience, picking out a souvenir for a 15-year-old is tricky. But Ralph was very pleased with this one! It sits high on a shelf in his room — out of reach of little hands — and it has indeed inspired some movie-making.

Now it’s time for the jewelry. I wore these bracelets every single day from the moment I bought them until weeks later when it was too cold for short sleeves. They’re super lightweight and really lovely. Olive received a wooden bracelet as well.

This cross was a gift from one of our guides in Addis Ababa. I love wearing it — and when I do, it reminds me of the trip. (And also, our conversation about religious jewelry.) I picked up something similar for Maude.

These beads were the last thing I bought — and they’re my favorite of the bunch. There are two strands, and I know I over-payed, but I’m the absolute worst at haggling. (No seriously, I’m the worst.) These beads are heavy and gorgeous and feel like they’re a million years old, and they make me feel like a million bucks when I wear them.

I’d love to hear what you think! Would you have picked out the same things if you were there? Does anything stand out to you from among my picks?

P.S. — I also came home with lots of scarves!


In October, I spent a week in Ethiopia at the kind invitation and expense of The ONE Campaign, a nonpartisan, advocacy organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and malnutrition, particularly in Africa. ONE works to convince governments to invest in smart programs that save lives. While there, I was with a group of parenting bloggers to observe how the organizations for which ONE advocates are effecting real change in Ethiopia.

ONE doesn’t ask for your money, just your voice. If you’re moved by anything you read or see here, or on the ONE blog, please consider adding your voice, and join ONE.