My name is Rahwa Geberemedhin, and I was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Although I left Ethiopia and went to Canada when I was 8 years old, Ethiopia is my home and my heart, and I go back often to visit and to live. I find no greater peace in my body, my heart and my soul than when I am in Ethiopia, my home and land of my ancestors. There is no one that can convince me otherwise, and it will always be such.
When I explain to people who I am and where I am from, my passion for my homeland ignites inside of me. I explain to them that I hail from Ethiopia, the land of rock hewn churches, the horn of Africa and the cradle of human civilization. It is a land of culture, tradition, respect, family and values, all of which are at my fundamental core. Naturally, Ethiopians are beautiful people, but for me, there is even more to beauty than what is seen on the outside. I believe that there is an enormous power in accepting who you are and being true to yourself, and this is the most beautiful and important character there is in life. When I was younger and I let outside influences determine what was important to me, I had not always felt beautiful. However, having grown and having gained the wisdom and presence of mind to define what is important to me on my own, I have come to understand that being beautiful is a decision we make, because beauty is a culmination of a lot of things, such as being kind and having compassion for others. Even more importantly, it is a state of mind; it is not something that others can define for you.
After adopting this newfound understanding of what beauty truly is, I became concerned more with my interior and less with my exterior. As a kid, I was very passionate about helping children, and at the age of 14, I opened a charity called "Addis Tesfaye", which means “My New Hope”. The purpose of my charity was to help orphaned kids in Ethiopia. Because beauty is spread through experience and through interactions with others, I found the need to hone my tools of communication, and I became fluent in English, Amharic and Tigrinya. Proliferation of beauty, understanding and hope was important to me, and became my main motivation. One of my favorite canvases, platforms and mediums for this was via spoken word, which frequently happened in public venues or via YouTube videos.
The last key element to beauty is that it can’t be taught or shown; it is something that we naturally develop and must hone. A truly beautiful person does not need to announce or to seek validation for their beauty, since it would be evident in their actions and their message. With beauty comes hope, and hope is more than a four-letter word. Beauty and hope both have the capacity to heal, to dream, to inspire. They can temper the most unwieldy of beasts, restore life to the dead, and turn the impossible into a reality. Because we have the privilege and the honor of possessing these characteristics, we have the responsibility to proliferate and to bless others with these positives. It is important to do so, not because we can, but because our world, our continent, our country and our children peer into our eyes, with questions, with curiosity, with hope, with awe and with the beauty they experience from the previous generations, the people around them and their environment. It is a subtle reminder that "behind every pair of eyes, there is somebody like us", a reminder that being beautiful and making others beautiful are two sides of the same coin, one in the same.