Planning to combat AIDS and poverty in Ethiopia

Dec. 16, 2004, midnight | By Danielle Foster | 17 years, 11 months ago

Members of the Ethiopian club have not forgotten their native country

Senior Hamrawit Abebe moved to the United States in 2001. She vividly remembers the major problems that plague Ethiopia, her homeland, and wants to help, though thousands of miles away. As a member of the Ethiopian Club, she meets every Tuesday to discuss potential ways to help with other members.

According to club president Eiskender Bezabeh, the goals of the organization are to help the poor and the sick. "We're specifically [trying to help] the kids who lost their parents," he says. In order to meet their goal, the club holds several fundraisers.

The approximate population of Ethiopia is 70 million, and those infected with HIV number around 2.2 million, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention web site in 2002. 160,000 of the Ethiopian population died from AIDS. Cumulatively, over one million AIDS deaths have occurred, and 1.2 million children have become orphans due to the disease. In comparison, 16,371 people died in the United States, which is less than one percent of the U.S. population of almost 295 million.

Earning the money

In order to raise money for the afflicted in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian club puts on shows, holds sales and directly asks people for help. Their biggest source of revenue is Ethio Night, a performance held annually towards the end of the school year. "Unfortunately, we barely broke even [last year]," says Campbell. There were approximately 150 to 200 in the audience but usually, the show draws auditorium-filling crowds. "We have enough money [to put on a show], but we don't want to put it out there if we can't get it back," says Campbell.

Other ways the club plans to make money are to collect loose change from students and faculty and from pizza sales. Bezabeh also wants to advertise the club to get more people involved. "The more people we have, the stronger we get, the easier it will get to help others," he says.

During the last week before winter break, the club is planning to hold a party, which will also serve as a fundraiser. "This party will have food and music," says Bezabeh. "We're going to invite everyone who's been in the club, [including] people who graduated."

Planning for the future

Abebe thinks one of the best ways to assist is by going to Ethiopia with three or four others as representatives of the Ethiopian Club. "We would give them food that could last a week," she says. In order to provide long-term assistance, Abebe also wants to give people ways to support themselves. "We would give shoe shine kits to the guys; they use it to make money. The girls usually sell kolo," food similar to dried beans, she says.

Abebe realizes that neither her, nor her club make her ideas happen alone. "Usually only Ethiopians come [to meetings] but we need everyone," she says.

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Danielle Foster. Danielle is a senior and all she can say is "it's about time". Now 17, driving, and close to completing the Communication Arts Program, she is ready to graduate on June second. This is her last year at Blair though, and she plans to make … More »

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