2003 Addis Youth

Feb. 10, 2003

The elders at ECA must now follow the youth.

Two high school student-led activities alone have raised an astonishing 36,000 birr for drought victims. Disturbed by the daily images of skin and bones and feeling the cries of their hungry brothers and sisters, the 25 members of the French Club at the International Community School (ICS) in Old Airport were discussing the drought and famine with their French teacher and club coordinator Sania Ahmed. Although the club fundraises and tries to plan a trip to Paris every year, this year’s club members resolutely rejected the idea of emptying the coffers on a vacation; rather, they favored making a donation to those in need. They supplemented existing Treasury funds by selling croissants and hot chocolate in the mornings to fellow students, teachers, and parents. One of the very active fundraisers, Amina Niang, whose father Abdoulaye Niang works in FSSD recalled conversations of ECA’s famine appeal. As Club President Blaen Negussie put it: “ICS represents the international community. We wanted to show that here, humanity comes first.” Thus, the club decided to make their donation of 17,000 birr to the Task Force.

Meanwhile across town, a handful of seniors from the Nazareth School, a private all-girls academy in Arat Kilo, decided they should take action. Classmate Tsegahiwot Taddesse is credited with the idea of mounting a carnival on the school compound in order to raise money. With full support from their directress Dr. Beulah Mendez, six girls spent their lunch breaks designing the whole program. On December 21, for the admission of 8 birr, the extravaganza entertained some 1,500-2,000 revelers with 18 different games, 2 fashion shows, an art exhibit, sports tournaments, a talent show, and poem competition, among others. The over 19,000 birr generated in one day was split: 10,000 birr for 50 quintels of wheat distributed thorough the Medical Mission Sisters to the drought-affected people in Zequala, southwest of Addis; and 9,000 birr to the government’s Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC). Several of the girls took the 2-hour trip to participate in distributing the grain. Class President Bethel Lemma, one of the organizers, explained that their motto was “a problem shared is a problem halved.”

“We wanted to do all we could, no matter how small the outcome. Imagine if all the people in the world could do their share.…” she mused.

Feb. 18, 2003

The tenacity and aggressive fundraising of ECA’s Ethiopian Food Appeal Task Force has yielded results: about 44,000 birr has been donated thus far. A simple contribution of 200 birr can buy one quintal of teff to enable a family of six to have injera three times a day for nearly three months. That’s 220 families that can be reached so far! The Task Force plans to “adopt a community” to follow long term with food and other forms of assistance. Task Force member Jo E. Butler met with the Francophone Rotary Club, the International Community School, and the Lycée Franco-Ethiopien Guebre Mariam about combining forces to target families with various services. The schools plan to establish a partnership to provide exercise books, pens and pencils, and high-caloric biscuits to 200 primary school students in the village of Melka Obo (15 km outside of Nazareth) to maximize learning and attendance.

Task Force member Ebenezer First-Quao and the author are pursuing these avenues and more with the Ethiopian Red Cross and will take a reconnaissance mission this week to survey the food situation of the community there.  Discussions have been held with the World Food Program (WFP) and other NGOs about delivery mechanisms. It is likely that the first delivery of grain will be made in mid-March. A gala fashion show/dinner is planned for April at the UN Conference Center jointly with the United Nations Women’s Association, and hopefully the African Diplomatic Corps. Some staff members have made generous contributions, and a buzz has been created beyond the walls of the ECA as well. All the Ambassadors in Addis have been contacted, and, thanks to a series of chain reactions, other UN agency members, various schools, and Ethiopians here and abroad have all answered the urgent appeal (see related article about youth.  Somehow the call was even heard in Italy where a certain Viscount responded to the petition. Hey why not consider adopting a family?  Every birr really does translate into meals for the hungry!

Jun. 18, 2004

According to parents and teachers, the 250 students at Melka Oba elementary are more alert and ready to learn. And that was the primary objective of the Ethiopian Food Appeal, started some two years ago by the vibrant and unflappable former Commission Secretary Jo E. Butler.

Tirelessly fundraising from her new post with UNCTAD in Geneva, Jo and other Task Force members have been making sure that the coffers stay topped off and that the Red Cross continues their high-caloric nutritional biscuit deliveries, providing the children with their daily lunch supplement.

Over the course of the school year, 225,000 biscuits have been donated to Melka Oba to give the students a 630-calorie boost, at the cost of only about 1 birr for each 6-biscuit pack.  In addition, the Appeal purchased a huge barrel, jerry cans, and sand filters (recommended by ECA’s Mr Water himself, Max Donkor) to help the school collect and purify their drinking water from the Awash River, from their location 27 km outside of Nazareth.

Since the food drop-off has been underway for the entire school year, the Appeal sent a representative to assess the success of the program. The East Shoa Red Cross Branch Manager, school officials, and community members interviewed all stressed emphatically that the children were healthier and more eager to go to class. Students were absent less, and 50 new children joined the school attracted by the added benefit of the daily snack break.

The severe drought has subsided in the area, which was originally identified by woreda officials as being in crisis, but the school and the families are still in need. Hints were good-heartedly dropped that building desks and refurbishing the school in other ways might be considered as a future endeavor. Well, that’s something to investigate over the summer break!

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