The story behind the catalogue cover girl

Oct 30, 2019
Her smile is infectious. She cradles her chicken the same way my daughter cuddles one of her plush toys. I loved her engaging manner – she didn’t act strange at all when a strange video crew descended on her home. In fact, she also really liked the camera!

I was traveling through Ethiopia last year, with chef and photographer Dennis the Prescott, capturing stories about the role food plays in the community, both as a life-giving substance, and something that builds and keeps communities together. 

We took a detour to Bethlehem’s community in southeast Ethiopia, after we heard of a chicken distribution and wanted to meet the families whose lives would be forever changed. 

One of these families was Bethlehem’s. Her mother, Kokobe, astutely runs the household and her own business. She belongs to a savings group and secured a micro loan to invest in chickens. The chickens provide nutritious eggs for her three children (Bethlehem is the youngest, at 5) and Kokobe is able to sell the surplus at market, providing extra money for the family.  

When we stopped by, Bethlehem was eager to show us how she does her chore of picking up the chickens and collecting eggs. She is confident for such a young girl and it's clear she gets this confidence from her mother. Kokobe was emotional when she talked to me about how determined she is for her children to have a better life than her own, so they can afford to be healthy and educated. That’s what drives her to work so hard with her business selling eggs. 

World Vision Canada gift catalogue cover featuring a little Ethiopia girl holding a chicken.

When I see the World Vision Gift Catalogue, with Bethlehem smiling at me from the cover, I can’t help smiling back. When we saw how comfortable she was around the camera, Dennis and I chuckled that she should be the next cover girl for the World Vision gift catalogue. Little did we know at the time that we were right – one of Dennis’ photos of Bethlehem is on the cover! 

I feel really honoured to have spent time with her and her family. The experience reinforces with me the understanding of the power of just one gift – in this case, a few chickens. 

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