My First Visit to Ethiopia
Hi! I’m Siobhan. I’m a 17 year old marketing intern for a fundraising and philanthropy consulting firm in New York City. Last summer my cousin Sara and I visited Ethiopia for eight days. The visit changed my life. We stayed in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.
My dad has been to Africa before and, ever since I was 13 years old, he has wanted me to go because it was a life changing experience for him. While in Ethiopia we visited a lot of community organizations. The two organizations that really stuck out to me were Seeds of Africa and the International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia (ILAE) because they are doing everything they can to help the people of Ethiopia.
Seeds and ILAE
Seeds of Africa is a school started by Atti Worku. Atti always had a dream to make a difference in the world, and her first idea was to build a school for underprivileged children in her home country of Ethiopia. She founded Seeds of Africa, located in Adama (Nazret), Ethiopia.
ILAE is also providing education for underprivileged children. ILAE works to equip Ethiopia’s most academically gifted students with the tools they need to become leaders, and so that they can help future generations in Ethiopia.
During our first couple of days in Addis Ababa we visited the ILAE. We met with Haddis Tadesse, the founder of ILAE and Country Representative for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Haddis was definitely an inspiration for me. He has so much hope for Ethiopia, and I think his school can seriously impact a lot of lives and help a lot of people in the future.
Towards the end of our trip we travelled to Adama to visit Seeds of Africa. The children at Seeds were the most innocent, sweet children I have ever met. These children are so happy, and so giving when they have so little. These children had to deal with going to school without food, without parents, and not knowing what or if they were even going to eat that night. Seeds changed this for all of these kids. Seeds of Africa provides these children with an education, and provides them with food and a place to bathe etc.
More than Soccer!
While visiting Seeds of Africa I felt that there was a huge change in me. All of the children there impacted me. My cousin and I brought some old soccer balls I had, and they were so happy to have something and someone to play with. It made me realize that I don’t need all of these materialistic things in my life. Materialistic things are not what’s important, and I never realized how lucky I was. Seeing these children who were so happy with just one soccer ball made me never want to take anything for granted ever again. I also knew I had to help Ethiopia and these children.
These children have gone through so much, and yet they are still the happiest children I have ever met. Seeing them be so happy also made me never want to give up on anything that I am going through because they sure did not let it affect them. Just looking into the innocent eyes of these children impacts you so much and it makes you want to get interested and help to the best of your availability. It does not matter where you are from or who you are – what matters are the people across the world who maybe are not as lucky as we are.
Take some time out of your everyday life, and get interested.
Step out of your comfort zone, and realize there are people out there that do not have it as good or as easy as you do.
Leadership and Philanthropy
Philanthropy is not just about money, it is about leadership and taking a stance for what you believe in through helping people. I thought I was going to go to Ethiopia to change the lives of its citizens through my help, but, in reality, Ethiopia changed me. The people are so amazing and so happy with what they have, it strikes me that we should all be like that. A lot of us do not know how lucky we are.
Future Leaders of Ethiopia
The generations of young people in Ethiopia, and around the world, have the potential to be leaders and they have the potential to change the world. I would not trade my experience going to Ethiopia for anything. I hope to go back soon, and I am continuing to do everything I can to make a difference in some of these people’s lives because they deserve it.