By Kristina Houck
With help from Rancho Santa Fe resident and filmmaker John Rowe, 37 children are alive and well in Ethiopia.
Having been declared “mingi,” or cursed, by the elders of the Kara tribe, the children could have been sacrificed like countless others in ritual killings. But Rowe and Lale Labuko — who lost two of his sisters to the taboo practice — have worked to rescue mingi children and end the practice, which extends back generations among tribes of Ethiopia’s Omo River valley.
The pair launched Omo Child, a nonprofit organization that provides a safe home and quality education for rescued mingi children. They also spearheaded efforts to end the practice in the Kara and Banna tribes.
“As a writer, John and Lale’s story completely spoke to me,” said author Elizabeth Bryan, who recently held a private launch party for her new book, “Soul Models: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Compassion,” at Rowe’s home. Event proceeds benefit Omo Child. The event was hosted by Candace Bahr of Bahr Investment Group in Carlsbad.
“I was so horrified to learn that children are being killed like that in today’s day and age. And I was so moved that John would devote his time, effort and significant financial support to saving these kids.”
Bryan shares stories of inspirational people doing inspiring things in “Soul Models: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Compassion.” Co-authored by Angela Daffron, the book features short stories of everyday people as well as celebrities, such as NFL quarterback Eli Manning and illusionist David Copperfield.
“I feel so blessed to be able to be the voice for these people,” said Bryan. “It’s such a gift to be able to share them with the world.”
A single mother of three, Bryan said speaking with the subjects helped her “survive” tough times. Her desire to help others overcome adversity inspired the concept of the book.
“These extraordinary people refuse to give up,” she said. “In fact, they step up to help other people.”
“Soul Models” is Bryan’s second book. She previously co-authored “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings” and helped develop an accompanying game. Also an artist and speaker, Bryan is a consultant and a volunteer with San Diego-based Women’s Institute for Financial Education, or WIFE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing financial education to women in their quest for financial independence.
Rowe’s story will be featured in the next “Soul Models” book, Bryan said. In the meantime, he will be a featured speaker during “Soul Models Week” May 18-25 at Golden Door spa in San Marcos.
“John Rowe is one of the most upstanding men I’ve ever met in my entire life,” Bryan said. “He’s just one person who has made this huge difference. It’s amazing what one person can do.
“I love inspiring people with the stories of these soul models, so they know that they also have it in them to do extraordinary things with their lives.”
For more information about “Soul Models,” visit