Why I Support Project Ethiopia

By Len Barson, Volunteer

First off, I must confess that I’ve never been to Ethiopia. Up until recently, I never really knew or even thought about the country very much. All that changed, however, when I happened to stop at a Project Ethiopia exhibit at volunteer open house I attended two years ago.

By way of background, I worked at a non-profit organization for 20 years before I retired. As I learned more about Project Ethiopia, I realized that it had all the qualities I had come to believe were most important for effective and successful non-profits.

Project Ethiopia works at the grassroots level with local leaders who listen to the communities they serve. Work is limited to a particular geographical area, the Dangla region in remote northwestern Ethiopia. Project Ethiopia addresses clear cut and specific local needs, such as clean water, education, and economic opportunities.

Every step of the way, villagers work cooperatively with the Project Ethiopia team. In addition to running their own farms, members of the community work as staff on Project Ethiopia projects. By hiring and buying locally, money stays within and lifts up the Dangla region. Utilizing volunteers to provide time and materials is another way the project works cooperatively with the community and allows the funding to stretch even further.

Project Ethiopia focuses on discreet, tangible impacts to the communities with which it works. That makes it easy to see results. Typical projects include building primary schools, installing wells and distributing home water filters, and distributing bars of soap as part of COVID-19 relief efforts.

Since my initial meeting with staff, I’ve become involved with a variety of Project Ethiopia programs, including micro lending and community agriculture, which I hope to blog about in future newsletters. Because I believe so strongly in the program model, I hosted a house party last year and have worked on additional ways to document Project Ethiopia’s effectiveness. Since my first introduction to Project Ethiopia, I’ve only become more impressed by its work, bringing hope and opportunity to rural Ethiopia, and I look forward to continuing to see the result of its efforts in the coming years.

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