Gourmand Awards 2023 recognized Letter From a Plow Nation, a popular children’s book written by Dr. Worku L. Mulat and illustrated by Daniel Getahun. It was ranked second in the category “Sustainability Books” and included under “Africa Fund Raising.” The book is the 100th published by Open Hearts Big Dreams (OHBD) Ready Set Go Books (RSG) and is accessible in five African languages: Somali, Kiswahili, Amharic, Afaan Oromo, and Tigrinya.
Dr. Mulat was born and raised in a remote community called Kersole, South Wollo, Ethiopia, to parents who had never been taught to read or write. His parents were resolved that their children would break the cycle of poverty through education. Dr. Mulat has advanced degrees in biology, environmental sanitation, and applied ecology. He is driven to help his town and others in Ethiopia by promoting literacy, innovation, and education.
Daniel Getahun, an Ethiopian-Canadian artist, graduated from Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts and Design with a diploma in graphic art. He is a creative artist who uses both conventional and digital techniques to create distinctive works. Readers particularly love that his art plays with the distinctive style of ancient Ethiopian paintings; as one reader says, “He combines the beauty of old Ethiopia and modern Ethiopia on the page.” The artist notes, “Children’s books inspire my creativity as an artist and remind me of my childhood memories of living in Ethiopia.”
In addition to the success of Letters From a Plow, another book also published by OHBD-Ready Set Go Books, My Five Senses, by Elizabeth Spor Taylor, was also honored by Gourmand Awards 2023. It was listed as First in “Food Books for Children—Africa.”
My Five Senses helps young readers experience the rich culture of Ethiopia through their eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and hands via an inquisitive dual-language early reader.
Elizabeth Spor Taylor, the author, is an international literacy specialist and OHBD volunteer who has visited Ethiopia eleven times to visit schools and collaborate with Ethiopian educators. The pictures in the book were mostly done by retired US seniors studying painting at Clark College Economic and Community Development in Vancouver, Washington. Carol Rose, one of the art students who made significant contributions to the book, notes how fulfilling the project was by saying, “My first watercolor classes began after I retired. I’m honored to donate art to this project. I believe words and art can open new doors in your mind and bring joy to your life.”
Ellenore Angelidis, Founder and Executive Director of OBHD-RSG, comments, “We thank the Gourmand Awards for recognizing our OHBD-RSG books in this way. Bringing quality children’s books that celebrate Ethiopian stories and culture to kids around the world, particularly in Ethiopia, is a key goal for us. This type of visibility is essential as each book purchased provides critical funding to allow us to locally print and donate these books to young readers in Ethiopia.”
“Both Worku and Daniel have compelling life stories that show the power of literacy and education,” explains Angelidis. “And they bring that into their work by creating stories that reach back in time as well as inspire the future. Letters from a Plow Nation also has the interesting vantage point of having the country of Ethiopia as the narrator.”