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Giving!
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Our impact can be felt in the USA too! One of my greatest pleasures is visiting schools in the USA and talking about the children in Africa and India. When I show pictures of our projects overseas, I ask the students here what they notice most; some point to the ragged clothes, some mention the fact that the children in the pictures have no shoes – but all notice the fact that the children in Africa and India are usually smiling. The children appear happy and content with their lives, even though they have so little. The goal of our schools projects is not to “westernize” these children, nor create expectations so that they leave their families and communities for the big cities. Our job is to give the children choices – and yes, keep those smiles on their faces!

Kieko Smith talking to Ralston Middle School Students about our back pack drive

Here in the USA, I am often humbled by the honest wish of the children to help the kids overseas. Earlier this year, the children of Ralston Middle School plundered their closets to collect old soccer jerseys and shorts. The school gave two full sets of soccer uniforms for the children in Shashemene. And what a happy day it was when I delivered these in Ethiopia. What fun it was for the children to put on team colors and play soccer all afternoon. I have some video footage of this, it can be seen here.

When I returned home, the students of Ralston Middle School were keen to know that their jerseys had arrived and the children in Africa were happy with them. They also asked me what else could be done to help.

So, just after term started, SFH volunteer Kieko Smith started a backpack drive with six local district schools. Within weeks, Kieko had collected over 400 backpacks for the children in Africa! And what an impact these backpacks will have on the Shashemene community. You see, with limited funds we can only educate one child per family; but with these backpacks each student can now take their class work home on an evening and teach there siblings!

And now, back home, hardly a day passes without a child asking me about the schools overseas; the children of this country are genuinely compassionate and care about their friends in Africa and India. This is a national treasure that is often overlooked.

Let’s work together to keep this compassion alive!

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