The Power of One Writer
Back Yards, Ethiopia and Children's Books

Ethiopia: pain twisted into hope for kids

This is one of my favorite photographs among many powerful photographs taken by my son Jonathan, now a professional photo-journalist in Birmingham, Alabama.  One adoptive dad pointed out the photo tickles memories and sensations of a painting of the Last Supper.  You can see a much more stunning version here:

The photo matches some stunning efforts to create a safe and welcoming world for some Ethiopian kids who drew some short, short straws out of the sorting hat of life.  At their school, a fuzzy head was the excitement o the day when some folks visited from Olivet Lutheran church in Fargo.  But most days, the excitement is basic: water, pencils, bread.

Hope for these kids was born in the middle of intense pain.  A young Ethiopian college graduate–full of her plans to return to her Addis Ababa neighborhood and work with kids–was killed in a car accident in Minneapolis.  Her parents took a whole lot of sadness–theirs, their daughter’s friends–and braided something that could at least honor what their daughter had wanted for her life: a school for kids like Jemila, the girl whose story is told on the Fregenet website right now:  Eight members of a family sharing a bedroom.  A kitchen shared by 30 neighbors.  A child who arrived at this NGO school lethargic and hungry with lice in her hair, now full of sparkle.

Tafesse and his wife have put everything on the line for this school.  He quit his job–because his job has become keeping the school going.  Every year, he and others (now incuding my brother) put their legs on the line in the LA marathon coming up next weekend.  I’ve been telling everyone I know, hoping a few people will join me with a few dollars of sponsorship. 

This summer, the Fulbright Hayes teachers who visited Ethiopia made books with the teachers of that school.  Later this month, the school where my brother teaches will do a fundraiser to help extend this library’s reading resources to the entire neighborhood where 85% of the families live in poverty. 

We can’t do everything.

Opening a world of books to thousands of kids in Ethiopia who have a fierce determination to learn?

Sometimes adding an opportunity to wash up?  A piece of bread?

That is one thing we can do–one kid at a time.

4 thoughts on “Ethiopia: pain twisted into hope for kids”

  1. lovely pictures, thanks for sharing the info about this foundation. sometimes, one kid at a time is all we can do, right?

    thank you for always inspiring me to push forward, even when efforts seem like a tiny drop in the ocean.

    • Yeah–I know about the drop feeling! One of the challenges in Ethiopia, particularly, is that there’s need everywhere you turn–and I agree it can feel hopeless. I cling to the thought that educating kids is an investment in a better future for the whole country. And it definitely changes everything for those kids and their families.


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