AFRICA TRIPS, PERSPECTIVES

GUEST BLOG: "These Statistics Have Names" by Danielle Iman

Danielle Iman has traveled to Africa with the Mocha Club twice, both times to Ethiopia.  But she hasn’t let those trips be isolated events.  She has used them as motivation to invite others into the story she has experienced.  Through speaking at local churches, classes, and to other friends & family, she has raised over $1000 for the friends she met in Ethiopia.  Thank you for using your voice, Danielle!  You can read more about her trip experiences here and here.

Danielle Iman with Ambo boys

Danielle with Ambo street boys

“Bur-han-u” – syllable by syllable the street boys who were gathered around me attempted to teach me their names on a warm January afternoon in Ambo, Ethiopia.  Little did they know at the start how arduous this task would turn out to be.  Embarrassed that they had picked up English much quicker than my sore attempt at Amharic, I pressed ahead seeing the smiles these boys had on their faces.  To these children, my saying their name was something special.

Street children in Ethiopia (and in general) are rejected by most of society, so it is rare that anyone, other than another street child, would even speak to them.  It seemed almost meaningless to me, yet they were glowing from ear to ear even with my awful attempts at mimicking the sounds of their names.  My proud teachers broke out in a round of applause when I remembered 90% of the names the next day.  At the sight of their smiles, I knew that things would never be the same.  Yes, I was aware that approximately 26,500 children die every day because of causes related to their poverty.  But now, this statistic had names associated with it.  It was real people suffering from very real causes.

I could not leave Ethiopia without remembering their names, their smiles, and their laughter.  My eyes close every night still thinking of Friot, Burhanu, Gedtanet, Mulu, Kuba – the list goes on.  It is their names and their very real circumstances that have become my passion.  I want others to know the names behind the statistics and to understand that small acts of love can make a big difference in these children’s lives.

Being a voice for “my” boys and the people of Ethiopia has involved taking small purposeful steps.  This has taken the form of speaking at a few local churches, requesting family/friends to support Mocha Club in lieu of graduation gifts, and taking friends to enjoy a bit of Ethiopian cuisine and sharing my experiences.   My favorite “step” since returning, though, was using my capstone college course to design my dream project for the street boys of Ambo and educating my professor and classmates.

Yes, these are very small things, but I believe they make a real difference.

Imagine, just one less child dying because his/her water was dirty because one person decided to act (remember $1 = clean water for 1 year).  Remember, that child has a name.  What if that life became the next Mother Theresa or Albert Einstein?

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1 Comment

  • Reply Shawn June 24, 2010 at 12:18 am

    That’s awesome!..I specifically remember meeting Friot when I went to Ambo.

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