Our August 2010 trip to Fresh and Green Academy, a school for impoverished children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The school is funded by “Friends of Fresh and Green Inc.”, a non profit organization based in New York City.
In 2005, Ethiopia had 4,414,000 orphans, the second-highest number in Africa. You could easily double if not triple that number to determine the number of Ethiopian children being raised without a father or a significant male member of their household.Among our 90 students, the number with an adult male living permanently in the household could be counted on one hand. For both the boys and the girls, it is a tragedy born of the AIDS epidemic and a patriarchal society. I say this without judgment, only stating the facts that I have witnessed and researched.
This picture was taken by Francesco, who along with Todd, comprised the two male volunteers on the April trip to the Academy. Both of them are young single men in their 20s, but they seem to me to be “old souls,” natural-born fathers, the kind who will be “hands-on” dads. Watching them interact with the kids was a delight for me, but for the children themselves, their presence must have been something altogether different.
Only time will tell how this generation of Ethiopian children will fare without fathers or father-figures. My hope is that, for the kids at the Academy at least, they will benefit from the example set by Anteneh, Muday’s husband, and their friend Hilu. Both are teachers at the local high school, and both of them spend a lot of time with the kids. Certainly the men who volunteer with Friends of Fresh and Green (including Trish’s husband, Gregg) provide wonderful examples of how a man can be both strong and nurturing at the same time.
Muday speaks highly of a local man, a pilot for Ethiopian Airlines, who regularly stops by and takes some of the boys home to play with his own children. There are trekkers who stop by the Academy often (it is a Geo-Cache site http://www.geocaching.com). All in all, Fresh and Green Academy students have more exposure to positive, male role models than many of their peers.
On this Father’s Day eve, I want to recognize all the men who are working and have worked so hard to make a difference in the lives of the children. There are many of you, including my own dad (and Trish’s dad) who taught us the value of “giving back.” And I want to acknowledge all the male sponsors, who are providing support “behind the scenes” as it were. Although the children may not know you by name, you are making a difference in their lives nonetheless.
Kathleen Murphy Vilicich, Vice President
The students who attend Fresh and Green Academy live in poverty that is unimaginable for most of our visitors. Even those who have been to impoverished areas and who have familiarity with life in the Third World are sobered by the reality of the challenging situation they find when they visit a student’s home.
Fresh and Green Academy is truly an oasis, a life-enriching and beautiful place for our students to come every day. Your donations make this possible. Thank you for visiting the site, and if you are so inclined, make a donation so that together, we may continue to make a difference in a world so very, very different from our own.
Thanks to your donations and support, there are twenty-two student mothers now earning money courtesy of Fresh and Green Academy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For many, it is the first time in their lives they have been able to earn money by any other means than begging or prostitution. At last, they are able to provide not only for themselves. but for their other children who do not attend Fresh and Green.
Eduction in Ethiopia is free, however children do not receive meals. Therefore, many of our students’ siblings would go hungry were it not for the Mothers’ Cooperative.
The mothers cook the meals for the children and help with the cleaning and upkeep of the school. For the past two years they have been meeting after school in one of the classrooms to make jewelry as well.
Their jewelery has been sold at bazaars locally and we have been able to help them out by exchanging their crafts for donations in the US.
Recently, a donation of a years’ rent for a small store near the school has enabled them to have steady employment. They work in shifts to sell items used by the residents of the neighborhood. The profits, as well as the proceeds from the crafts, are distributed to the mothers equally in salary form.
These amazingly strong and hard working women are overcoming major adversities and finally lifting themselves from the poverty they were born into.
They are an inspiration to all of us.
If you would like to purchase some of their beautiful necklaces, bracelets, earrings, eyeglass holders or watchbands, please email us and we will be happy to get you the information. Their prosperity is only possible through your generosity. Thank you for being a Friend.