Drawn from Water the Movie
By : Cynthia La Grou
Many tribes of southern Ethiopian possess a tradition-rich culture based on ancient beliefs and rituals dating back hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. Living in almost total isolation in some of the planets' harshest conditions - a region National Geographic calls the "last frontier" - these indigenous people's lives are diverse and resilient.

Though the practice is illegal, many tribes still practice what is called "mingi", which loosely translated means cursed or unclean. There are many ways in which a child may become "mingi", but once the label has been placed all children suffer the same fate, they are sentenced to death by their tribes. Of the three tribes, which practice "mingi", there are a total of roughly 130,000 people living in hundreds of villages spanning an area totaling hundreds of square miles. Estimates range from 100 to 1,000 children at risk each year because they are "mingi." Although the practice is illegal, the areas are remote and accurate statistics throughout the region are not available.

Project History

Photojournalist, Kristin Neuenschwander travels the world with Pick A Pocket, collective of artists, musicians and photojournalists who merge their artistic mediums with the message of social justice and passion for the world's poor. Through personalized advocacy projects, they connect the world's poorest people to a new generation of activists who are working to make the world a better place.

One of Pick a Pocket's long term projects in Southern Ethiopian involved working with Lale Labuko an educated tribesman and Yabibal Abebaw to help initiate an orphanage which rescues and provides for tribal children in Africa who are facing culturally mandated infanticide. Lale founded SOZPA (an acronym for the "Southern Omo Zone Pastoralist Area: Avoiding Harmful Traditional Practice Association") with the vision and two fold organizational charter (endorsed by the Ethiopian government) to care for rescued mingi children through a children's center and tribal education to end harmful tribal practices. Lale has since reorganized as "Omo Child" and up to 30 children have been relocated to a childrens center, with more on the way.

Our purpose is to benefit organizations such as Lale's and those working in the areas of harmful tribal practices and child welfare in Southern Ethiopia. An estimated 143 million children in the developing world are orphans with 5 million in Ethiopia. Every day 5,760 more children become orphans, 1,667 under 5 die from malnutrition or preventable disease.

While this work continues to evolve and mature, efforts to help such children desperately need your support.

This story not only brought people together from diverse locations and backgrounds, but world class, award winning musical, design and production talent contributed valuable time and resources to the creation of the film. Hollywood Producer Chad Cork and Editor Justin Heinzer joined creative forces with Director, Cinematographer, and International Media Director at Compathos, Nick Kalbach, along with Executive Producer and Compathos founder, Cynthia LaGrou and Executive Producer John La Grou.

"When the opportunity to go to Ethiopia arose, it wasn't a difficult decision," director N. Kalbach explained, "Camera in hand, I had no idea where the journey would lead. The moment I held one of the abandoned children in the orphanage, I was personally touched on a deep level. It was difficult for me to comprehend that this child, if not rescued days ago, would be dead at that very moment. From that time, I felt like my camera was witness to a moment in time, a brief glimpse into a much grander story."

Award Winning Bongo Post (NFL, NBC, Entertainment Tonight, Olympics, Super Bowl, The Grammy's, NPR, PBS, Sacramento Kings) also dedicated weeks of post and sound design, and were "proud to lend our Pro Bono services to the documentary "Drawn from Water" the story and journey to save children killed by century old ancient rituals!" as did the award winning BKWLD (Top 25.Net Design Agencies of 2010/ clients too numerous to list) who contributed an absolute visually stunning web campaign and product packaging for the project.

"Drawn from Water" musical score by award-winning, Hollywood composer Eric Hester with lyrics and performance by Lale Labuko, was inspired by the indigenous music of Ethiopia and the colorful and traditional sounds of Africa. Eric speaks about the score, "Never before have I been involved in a project that I felt this connected to. The story of Drawn from Water is true. This quickly turned from a scoring gig to something that weighed heavily on my heart. This was an amazing experience for me and I am truly honored to have been part of this project."

Elias Negash, who is originally from Ethiopia, served as Music Advisor and provided a wealth of knowledge from regional musical differentiations, scales, traditional arrangements and instrumentation. Musical contributors also include the internationally acclaimed Sigur Ros. "Drawn from Water" title song won Grand Prize in the "World" category and was also a final contender for Song of the Year in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest . The title song also won an Honorable Mention in the 2011 International Songwriting Competition (ISC).with over 15,000 entries from 115 countries.

This gorgeous, haunting and eclectic musical journey is now available on Amazon and ITunes
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