By: Danielle Nispel
December 16, 2010
Ethiopia first came into my life when I entered high school and got involved in Habitat for Humanity. Our club spent most of our efforts raising funds and working to help build homes around our own community. The process was rewarding and life changing. At each house site we worked on, we had the chance to meet with the future homeowners and work with them to help build their future house. Seeing the difference that Habitat for Humanity had in our own community made us want to make more of a global change. That’s where Ethiopia came in.
According to Habitat for Humanity, 85% of houses in Ethiopia are poorly constructed out of mud and stick or thatch walls. These living conditions were precursors to a lower quality of life overall affecting factors such as education as well as health. The idea of being able to bring a family out of those conditions for only $2,500 changed the way our club ran and my own viewpoints. Since raising funds to build houses in Ethiopia I have not had the chance to get involved again until a friend recommended the Ethiopian Global Initiative.
The Initiative brings together such a committed group of people intent on creating a more optimistic future. My hope is that this will just be my first step in working with Ethiopia and other countries to help give power back to the citizens. That hands on experience I received working in my own community is something I’d like to be able to experience again in Ethiopia and I’d like to be able to help others reach that goal as well.
Danielle Nispel, an undergraduate student at American University in Washington, D.C., is majoring in Political Science and serves as a Steering Committee Member of U.S. College Students for Ethiopia, an innovative project of the Ethiopian Global Initiative (EGI) that provides college students from the United States the opportunity to intern or volunteer with Ethiopian-led organizations headquartered in Ethiopia.