Making a Difference in Ethiopia

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.

A Generation of Fatherless Children

A Generation of Fatherless Children

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 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

Fresh and Green Academy: An Oasis for Our Students

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.

     Bogale Kumela is a first-grader at Fresh and Green, along with his brother, Wakigra. He lives with his eight siblings and two parents in a six-by-six foot “apartment.” In this tiny space, eleven people live, eat, sleep, and cook. There is no electricity or plumbing. The floor is rocky dirt, and the tin roof does not keep the rain out.
     Approaching Bogale’s home, the driver has to stop on the main road. It’s too bumpy to continue. On the left side of the road are what looks like rows and rows of henhouses, corrugated tin shacks about 12 feet wide by sixty feet long. Each building is divided into ten “apartments,” each housing a large family like Bogale’s. The path between each set of buildings is about four feet wide and serves as both sewer and entry way.
     In order to reach the buildings one must cross over a rushing culvert on a rickety bridge with no railings. The bridge is not made out of boards, it is rounded tree branches wedged in together with maybe one or two screws to hold it together. In the rainy season, the slick bark of the branches makes the crossing seem perilous, and yet it is the only way for the residents to access their home.
     Bogale’s mother, Arakash, does not participate in the Mother’s Cooperative. She spends her days combing Addis Ababa’s meager trash piles in order to find food and items to sell. And Bogale has an older brother, Fakahdu, who has cerebral palsy. Whenever possible, Arakash takes him along, but sometimes she must lock him in their apartment because he cannot navigate the rocky roads she must travel to scavenge. Bogale’s other siblings beg for food. Sadly, Bogale’s father does not contribute much to the family’s income. He drinks with whatever money he brings in by begging.
     Bogale and Wakigra walk an hour-and-a-half each way to attend school at Fresh and Green, where they are fed three nutritious meals a day and an outstanding education that will help them stop the vicious cycle of poverty into which they were born.
     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.
Student Mothers Empowered To Earn Their Own Money

Student Mothers Empowered To Earn Their Own Money

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — May 2010

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.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 2010 April 16th-April 23rd

March 17, 2010–New York, New York- We are finalizing the plans for the Spring 2010 trip to Fresh and Green Academy and it looks like we are going to have a great group. Our plans are to leave the US on the 16th which will get us to Ethiopia on the 17th and to depart Addis on the 23rd. Of course we will need to remain flexible because the majority of us will be flying stand by. It looks like we may be going through Amsterdam or London-Heathrow on Continental on the way over and then possibly KLM Airlines to Addis. When we get closer to the date, Trish will let you know the exact route and send you copies of the pass you should get. For those of you buying a ticket, just let Trish know when you will arrive in Addis Ababa and someone will pick you up.
A big part of this trip is to bring supplies to the school so everyone who can will be required to bring a carry-on bag only, so we can each check two 50 -lb duffle bags. We will be staying in the Green Valley Hotel which is a small guest house with a bar and restaurant. The rooms run about $25 a night for a single. Meals run about $20 a day and we will hire a driver for the week which should be about $200-$300 for the week.
The only required vaccination is Yellow Fever but you may also want to consider getting Typhoid, Hepatitis, Meningitis (highly recommended) and Tetanus. It is recommend that you get these shots a month prior to leaving. You may also visit the CDC website for more info and  go to the travel page
Another note before you make your decision to join us. The altitude is a little on the high side (about 8300 feet) and it can be very dusty and dirty so if you have respiratory problems you may want to some research and check with your doctor before committing.
This are just  introductory thoughts, Trish will send more detailed information to the committed volunteers, but feel free to contact Trish if you have any questions.