There’s a community in Ethiopia where everyone lives as equals. And it works.
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Imagine a place where men and women are treated completely equally.

They share duties as co-heads of a household. Work duties and interests are not determined by gender, but by ability. The community works together, generating enough income to fulfill its needs and splitting the profits equally among all members. Contraception is available to women who want it.

A young woman in Awra Amba. All photos via the creative agency Write This Down, used with permission.


And it gets even better: Children go to school from the age of 3. Both boys and girls. They get the chance to be kids. Once they’re 18, they’re free to decide what they want to do with their lives. The minimum age for marriage is 19 for women and 20 for men. Women feel no shame proposing to men because there’s no invisible power structure to adhere to. The social standard is equality.

It might sound too good to be true — but it isn’t.

For over 40 years, Awra Amba has functioned as a small, egalitarian community in Ethiopia. There are around 500 community members who wake up each day with a simple mission: to work hard and treat each other fairly and as equals.

It all started with one man: Zumra Nuru. Nuru grew up in a small village in Ethiopia. He saw that inequality was baked into a lot of the traditions. Like the accepted norm in many Western countries, women in the village he lived in were expected to be both providers and caretakers. They worked during the day and tended to the house and the children at night. The same wasn’t expected of men.

A smiling little boy in Awra Amba.

It didn’t feel right. So he started to ask questions.

In an interview with filmmakers Paulina Tervo and Serdar Ferit, Nuru recalls asking, "Why is there a difference between them? Women are like servants; men are like masters. When I questioned this, my family would say, 'You want to be different from others.'" It wasn’t a compliment, but he felt confident that men and women could and should live as equals.

Nuru founded a community called Awra Amba where equality is the norm.

Initially, he was met with resistance. Like Nuru’s family, many of Awra Amba’s neighbors were skeptical of the community. They misunderstood Awra Amba’s way of life. But when faced with violent opposition, the Awra Ambans have reacted by extending their hands in peace.

They’ve built schoolhouses and encourage the kids from surrounding villages to attend because they believe that education is power. They engage in dialogue with their neighbors to teach them about the Awra Amban way of life to reduce fear and encourage understanding.

Image of a schoolhouse built by the Awra Amba community.

And the women who move to Awra Amba appreciate the chance to take the reigns in their own lives. Zeinab, a woman who lives in the village, told the filmmakers, "Before I came to Awra Amba, I was uneducated and oppressed. I didn't know about my rights. In our time, there was nothing called 'men's and women's rights.' Men oppressed women. They were superior to us."  For many years, she ran the teahouse in the village, and with her support, her adult daughter joined the Awra Amba community. They are in control of their own fate.

The Awra Ambans have also worked hard to become self-sustaining and have been successful at it — they do not accept food aid from organizations. They do accept financial support for projects, like a mill, which helps them and their neighbors to be increasingly self-sufficient. No one has more than any other person. They all work hard, and they all reap the rewards. As their way of life has proven successful, they’ve become a model for neighboring villages.

Tervo, the filmmaker, first traveled to Awra Amba in 2004. It was an experience she couldn’t forget.

She returned home and told fellow filmmaker Ferit, her boyfriend at the time, that they had to return and make a documentary about the people. Little did they know that helping Awra Amba to tell its story would becoming such a big part of their lives.

Tervo and Ferit with Nuru and other members of the Awra Amba community.

Over the years, they’ve seen the community evolve rapidly, and they say that the egalitarian principles on which it’s founded have only strengthened with each generation. And most importantly, they’ve helped the Awra Amban people to use own their voice and tell their story.

They plan to launch "The Awra Amba Experience" soon; it's an interactive documentary that allows viewers to get a look inside the village and hear from community members themselves. Tervo explains that this project "basically started from the desire of the community to speak to the outside world ... they wanted to tell their story."

Here’s a sneak peek:

Awra Amba is an incredible example of what can happen when we all champion each other.

As we in the Western world continue to work to ensure that women aren’t limited by assumptions about gender, are paid as much as men, and allowed to take control of their own bodies, it’s neat to be reminded that this massive goal is possible.

The glass ceiling can be shattered. And there’s a village in Ethiopia that can help show us the way.

It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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