Inspired by Off to Ethiopia
The most dangerous aspect of African poverty is that it is cyclical. Without an education, children’s opportunities for future success become extremely limited; however, children are needed to work and financially support their families in the present, rather than attend school. As Harvey Fuchs, Board Member of Seeds of Africa, shared in Off to Ethiopia: An Advocacy Adventure, “the young people are probably the most valuable natural resource any country has.” It is not a coincidence that Africa is home to 43% of the world’s out-of-school children and 75% of its poorest countries; in the absence of an educated population, a country’s potential to prosper is nonexistent.
I first became aware of the severe lack of educational opportunities for African youth after watching the Off to Ethiopia documentary. Shocked by the number of children that were standing on soup kitchen lines instead of sitting behind a desk, I searched for a way to contribute to ending the cycle of poverty.
Inspired by Atti Worku’s foundation, Seeds of Africa School for gifted but underprivileged children, I began a school supplies drive for an all-girls school in Sierra Leone; coming from Our Lady of Mercy Academy—a high school for young women—I felt a connection to the mothers who founded this school to provide greater possibilities for their daughters.
To supplement the drive, my friends and I began Project One: a service club to teach our classmates about the difficult situation we were working to alleviate. We made multiple presentations to the student body, explaining the low ratio of girls to boys in schools, and how uneducated women are 50% less likely to immunize their children.
In April, we shipped eleven large boxes of pens, pencils, notebooks, and calculators to Africa, and developed a new perspective. As said by our Leadership Team member, Isabella Alonso, “this project gave us a true appreciation for all we have been given, and a new look on how we can use our blessings to help others.” Our continuation of Project One into next school year will hopefully foster similar passions among our peers.