Diana Erdman - Sager, Boston, USA
I feel extremely privileged to have volunteered at ECF. The design of the school is innovative, and is drastically improving the lives of children and their families in Aleltu. I am inspired not only by the ambitious and integrated model the organization uses, but also the tireless dedication of the staff.
ECF facilitates learning inside the classroom as well as outside by creating an enabling environment. Nutritious meals, on-site health care and creative activities allow the children to grow and learn. The school is committed to community development, helping relatives to engage in income generating activities.
My experience at ECF influences my ideas about development. The organization focuses on the potential of each child to follow their own goals ' without dwelling on their environmental deprivations. Anna's vision and determination show what a profoundly positive impact one individual can make on the lives of so many: young children in Aleltu, the staff and community members, and a vast group of volunteers on many continents.
Adey Getaneh Haile-Mariam RN, Maryland, USA
I have been a volunteer with ECF for 10 years, initially helping out with public relations and fund raising events in the USA. A very meaningful experience was my 9 month-long visit to volunteer full-time at ECF Village in Aleltu, Ethiopia. I did this upon completing nursing school. It was special because it was also my first visit back to Ethiopia in close to 20 years. I had left the country as a young child, and was never able to visit.
During my 9 months of volunteerism, I spent almost all my time helping to set up the ECF Village Clinic, and strengthening ECF's relationships with the guardians/parents of the chlidren, community members and potential contributors I met in Addis Ababa.
It was great working with Hailu Lobe, the Health Officer, to establish the system and process for providing a basic, cost-effective health care and nutrition service at ECF Village. The system included health needs assessment and monitoring of child health and growth, as well as a charting system among others. I also spent a lot of time training and building capacity in areas such as preventive health (immunizations schedules etc), management of childhood diseases, child psychology and child physical assessment, as well as CPR and First Aid. With staff, we examined environmental conditions, and identified key health threats and harmful practices, and introduced 'Parents-can-Prevent' seminars.
Destitute and bereaved children, such as those at ECF Village, face an exceptionally difficult and uncertain life out of no fault of their own. It was a truly rewarding human experience to help make a real and direct difference to these highly vulnerable kids.
Paul Groch and Nadine Silverman, Chicago, USA
We were introduced to the ECF Village while living in Ethiopia. We fell in love with ECF that day. The warmth and pure joy of life expressed by the children was amazing given the poverty that surrounds them. We decided to quit our jobs and volunteer full time as English teachers and to assist the organization any way we could. After two school years in Aleltu we had to leave. We hope someone will replace us soon!
The school is a refuge for these children. They arrive early everyday and sometimes it is hard to get them to go home! It was wonderful to be able to participate in giving them an opportunity to escape poverty through education. The opportunites ECF provides these children would not exist without ECF Village.
The local staff cares deeply about the future of these children. It is our sincere hope that ECF will continue to grow. With some help these children can succeed. With continued support and guidance we know that many of these kids can make it through high school and into college, something almost unheard of in Aleltu. We can honestly say our year and a half at ECF Village changed our lives.