The Power of Personality by Neil Jones

The Power of Personality by Neil Jones


How did I end up in the middle of Africa? This was not even on my radar 3 months ago. Wasn’t Ethiopia the place where they had that terrible famine when I was a kid? Surely it’s better now but why would I want to go there? The answer: personality.

The first personality I encountered was Trish Hack-Rubinstein, at a bus stop in outer San Francisco. The kind of idle conversation where somebody casually mentions that they have a Non-Profit Organization in their pocket (run largely from an iPhone). This person radiates an energy that affects everyone within speaking distance, and suddenly we are learning in leaps and bounds about Ethiopia’s history and the challenges they face.

And then a huge collection of gregarious, generous and kind-hearted personalities at a fund-raising event in New York City, and I’m hooked! I once met Mr. Munroe Ashkenase, who founded Foster Parents Plan (now Plan Canada). His favourite expression was, “I never met a man who didn’t want to help – you just had to make it easy for him.” Well these people were making it easy for me.

Just over a month later, I have navigated the customs and immigration hall of Addis Ababa airport clinging to my only clue: “Someone will be there to pick you up.” That someone was the personality that created this whole enterprise: Muday Mitiku. Constantly in motion, keeping an organization the size of a village in her head (and on her mobile phone), she is a wonder to watch. Her staff and family provide seamless support.

And finally I meet the collective personality whom I knew before only in pictures: the beautiful children who make a stranger feel like he is part of the family. The characters! The laughter! The schoolyard games! If only I spoke their language as well as they speak mine – but they will teach me, throughout the course of a week. Amharica kwanka tamari naw – I am a student of Amharic.

I am the beneficiary of the generosity of all of these personalities, these perfect hosts. That is why I do my small part to help with their challenges.

Spreading Love, Happiness and Hope for the Holidays

Spreading Love, Happiness and Hope for the Holidays

All beings are connected and helping one can impact millions!

-Michael Mike-E Ellison

Fresh and Green Academy is proof that it is simple to make a difference. Since the school opened in 2000, hundreds of children have been saved from having to live in the streets. The school is operated and the children are fed and educated entirely by the generosity of others.
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Your end of the year donation will continue supporting the beautiful and energetic children at Fresh and Green Academy in Ethiopia.

One of our favorite compliments from our donors and supporters is that our children look happy! Yes, indeed they are. The reason for this is because of years of care that includes nutrition, education, and unconditional support that these children would not have if it were not for donors such as yourself.

Tales From the Field by Trish Hack-Rubinstein

Tales From the Field by Trish Hack-Rubinstein

Couldn't be happier!

Couldn’t be happier!

November 21, 2014

I arrived in Addis Ababa, very early on Thursday morning and after checking in to a very beautiful and cozy guest house, headed to the school. The children are thriving! The care and love they receive at school is overwhelming and is what keeps me coming back to the school time and time again. Because of the work Muday is doing with this one school in Ethiopia the world is already a better place.

We have 10 new students this year which brings the number of children being kept off the streets to 170. Some of the students have returned after having attended kindergarten but not being able to continue their education because they were students at Fresh and Green before we started increasing grade levels. It is wonderful to see children, that had the cards stacked against them after kindergarten, with an increased sense of enthusiasm and a renewed spirit.


Education is a Right not a Privilege

Unfortunately, in many developing nations education is not available to all children. While compulsory and free in Ethiopia, schools are not attended by all children. Books and uniforms must be purchased and meals are not provided. Many children work at an early age by shining shoes, selling trinkets, or begging to help feed their families. In the rural areas of Ethiopia many children work as sheep herders but dream of attending school and going to the city for a better life.

Thanks to many generous donors, the children at Fresh and Green are getting a chance at that better life. And with the gift of education anything is possible. These children can truly make a difference in this world and have already made a difference in my life!


Learning Lessons In Life At Fresh and Green by Angela Chukunzira

Learning Lessons In Life At Fresh and Green by Angela Chukunzira

AngelaI was a volunteer at Fresh and Green and it ended up being a learning experience which transformed me beyond my imagination. The whole experience made me view the world from a whole new perspective.

As a volunteer, you pass on various skills to the rest of the community without expecting anything in return but at Fresh and Green I got so much contentment and love from the entire community! I learnt that volunteering is more of interaction and connecting to the community. I taught spoken English and even learnt what it takes to be a teacher!

I learnt so much about myself and got a much deeper understanding of what life is about. I also acquired virtues I did not posses before like patience and thoughtfulness. Every Monday we had devotion in the “coffee room” and various religions were represented. It made me feel whole in that in as much as I did not understand the prayers and the language, I understood that God is universal. We also connected spiritually with other workers in the school.

I acquired a child-like innocence when I was singing with the children in the KG .Those kids have a burning urge to learn!! They were so eager to learn new things and were extremely receptive. I thought they would easily forget the songs I taught them but the next time I went they sang the song over and over again. Just to emphasize on how the kids desire to stay in school. In case one may wonder how eager they are to learn, they learnt to sing a song in Swahili (a language they barely know or hear about!).

Another outstanding element of Fresh and Green is the sustainability. Muday has not only taken the children out of the streets but has also set out to ensure that their mothers are getting a means to earn a living. She also guarantees the children 3 meals in a day.

The mothers have formed a cooperative in which they make crafts and Habesha scarves for sale. They also assist in domestic tasks in the school. How sustainable can a system be? This goes ahead to abolish the dependence syndrome that I have observed in most charitable organizations which unfortunately are not sustainable. The plans that Fresh and Green have for the future are big! With the very spirit of sustainability transforming it to a boarding school in the outskirts of Addis Ababa in the near future will enable the children remain in school. This project’s sustainability really touched my heart.

My faith in humanity was equally restored. I left home not trusting ‘strangers’ because of my own personal encounters of theft and corruption I observed in my own social system. When I met Muday and learnt how hard she worked just to see to it that the children did not sleep hungry and in the streets, I felt a gap in my heart was re-filled. This attitude of giving was spread out to my fellow volunteers and most of the Ethiopian people.

I later met Trish Hack, who valued those children as though they were her very own. In a culture that is saturated with individualism and consumerism, I am so glad that there are hearts willing to give themselves away for the sake of others. I am still grateful that humanity’s conscience is not completely lost.

Through my volunteer experience, I also made lifelong friends! My fellow volunteers with AIESEC firstly, the Addis Ababa University fraternity and I cannot forget to mention Glory Rain. She would give everything to see to it that Fresh and Green lives on. We traveled to other parts of Ethiopia together and made memories to last a lifetime.

Living by example is what Muday lived by. She lived a life of simplicity and her own children are enrolled at Fresh and Green. This goes to show she firmly believes in the system and in making a difference. The simple lives led by Fresh and Green community members constantly reminded me that a happy heart and good health are the fundamentals of life.

Though my volunteer experience is over, I continually fall in love with the community so closely knit. They say home is where the heart is, and for me, it is Fresh and Green, Addis Ababa. My heart is open and a new life continues to bloom within.

We are Making Progress but Still Need Your Help!

We are Making Progress but Still Need Your Help!

Now, thanks to your generous donations, the security wall is back up keeping the school safe and giving the children a place to play.

Thanks to your donations, the new security wall is complete.

Thanks to your donations, the new security wall is complete.

We still need your help to rebuild the block of classrooms that was partially destroyed. The building needs to be completely torn down, moved and rebuilt in brick. This project will cost close to $10,000.

To make things even more challenging….. The land that the school sits on is going up for sale in a few months. Fortunately, we have been given the opportunity of first refusal and a discounted price in order to keep Fresh and Green Academy operating, but we can’t do it without you.

The immediate financial needs are as follows in USD:

$106,000. for the purchase of the 732 sq meters of land including the main school building, which houses the principal and director’s offices, library, science lab, and classrooms for 5th through 8th grade. The kitchen, Mothers Coop area, showers and bathrooms, and director’s home are also included in the price.

$10,000. for the relocation and the rebuilding of the first through fourth grade classrooms. Government regulation requires the building to be reconstructed in brick which raises the construction price significantly.

$2,500. to purchase new desks.

To see the school and it’s needs check out our video.

To donate specifically to theses projects you can use the button below. As always, your donations are tax deductible.

Thank you for making a difference.