John Rowe: Saving Ethiopia’s “cursed” children

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John Rowe Media veteran John Rowe talks about saving Ethiopia’s unwanted children.

Media veteran John Rowe frequently traveled to Africa for both photography and philanthropy. His images have been published by National Geographic, The Guardian and CNN, among others.

In 2010, Rowe traveled to Ethiopia’s Omo valley where he discovered the Kara tribe and its long-standing tradition of Mingi—the killing of children thought to be cursed. But he found one native, Lale Labuku, who was fighting to end the practice.

“He saw a child killed when he was 15,” explained Rowe. “That affected him so deeply that he decided, ‘Someday I’m gonna try and stop this. Someday, I’m going to rescue these children’.”

John Rowe: Saving Ethiopia’s “cursed” children

John Rowe: Saving Ethiopia’s “cursed” children

Media veteran John Rowe discusses a long-standing tradition of Mingi—the killing of children thought to be cursed in Ethiopia.
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That same year, Rowe established Omo Child, a non-profit organization that rescues, cares for and educates these unwanted children. He then started filming Lale Labuku’s story. What started as a short video turned into a full-length documentary that’s been invited to 39 film festivals, around the world, winning dozens of awards. More importantly, both Rowe and Labuku have been instrumental in saving the lives of dozens of children and creating a profound cultural shift through the power of real-life stories.

“We made the film because we hope that, long term; this will help get money to support these kids,” said Rowe.

John Rowe joined May Lee in our Los Angeles studio to discuss Ethiopia’s unwanted children.