Meet Jonah, an 12-Year-Old Crocheting Prodigy and Budding Philanthropist

At just 12 years old, Jonah Faiso Larson has already mastered the art of crocheting and opened his own crochet business, Jonah’s Hands.

It began when Jonah was just five years old. His aunt gave him a bag of old craft items and Jonah was immediately drawn to the crochet needle. After watching hundreds of YouTube videos, Jonah picked up the talent and was “hooked.” Now, Jonah crochets each morning and evening, creating anything from scarves, to potholders, to bags, and ornaments. Jonah has developed his crochet skill and is often called a crochet prodigy.

But it’s Jonah’s philanthropy that’s garnered national recognition. Jonah uses his talents to donate some of his goods and earnings to organizations he holds dear. Roots Ethiopia was fortunate enough to receive several of Jonah’s most prized pieces – some of the very first projects he ever crocheted when he was just five years old. He donated them to be sold in Roots Ethiopia’s online store during our annual “Upcycle Sale” so that profits can support our programs. In 2019 Jonah started a GoFundMe campaign and generously gave $9,300 to begin work on “Jonah’s Library” near the place he was born. Later, he invited Anthropologie to donate $5k to help create Jonah’s Science Lab at the same school! The library is finished, and the science lab is undergoing construction as of February 2020. It is an honor and a privilege to work with Jonah. We love the talent of both is hands and his heart.

We’re proud to work with such an aspiring young artist, and we’re so grateful to Jonah for his continued support and generosity. Keep up the great work, Jonah!

To learn more about Jonah’s Library, you might want to catch his debut on NBC’s Little Big Shots! We surprised him with a video welcome from students at the school! You can hear Jonah’s story here.  Minute 22.37 is the start of Jonah’s segment. (We’re not crying, you’re crying! It’s very emotional!).

To support Jonah’s work, we are grateful for any gifts made to It’s All Big To A Kid. Gifts made this this campaign will be dedicated to work at the “orange” school, which is Jonah’s favorite color.

SHE Means Business! Meet Hanna

There are staggering roadblocks to success for a woman like Hanna. Forced to abandon school in the 9th grade. Married at an early age and soon the young mother of two daughters. Her husband’s mental illness and inability to work. Her younger daughter’s neurological disease. Aging parents who move in with her. Hanna. The 24-year-old who’s already lived a half dozen lifetimes is now tasked with supporting her entire family.

It’s the stuff of tragedy, and for a weaker person might well be the end of the line. But Hanna is a survivor. And she is also not alone. Continue reading “SHE Means Business! Meet Hanna”

7 Incredible Things YOU Did in 2016!

I could not blot out hope, for hope belongs to the future. –Lu Xun

See the dream. Be the impact. Feel the success.

The 2016 sun has set an incredible 366 times, shining a light on all the ways your gifts to Roots Ethiopia have turned dreams and challenges into success.  As we begin what will surely be another year of work to create lasting change in Ethiopia, we thought we would bring you a year in review, by the numbers.

Here are 7 phenomenal ways YOU turned local ideas into lasting change:

  1. 15,000 students and their communities were enriched through Learning Resource Projects that focused on making the school learning environment the best it can be. Desks, chairs microscopes, books, shelves, concrete floors, chalkboards, libraries for public use, the list is long. The impact is broad. The local community is inspired.
  2. More than 8,600 community members received temporary food support during the months following drought-related crop failures. In the darkest of days, these food staples allowed kids to keep going to school and families to stay strong.
  3. 113 librarians and 39 science teachers received intensive training in their field to become better leaders and to improve their innovative use of local materials as teaching tools.
  4. 11 rural schools were recipients of new books in the local language(s). 6,000 students can now expand their literacy skills and love of reading.
  5. 175 students attended school with all-inclusive School Sponsorships.
  6. 40 boys and girls participated in a new sports-based program designed to develop youth leadership skills. The program includes uniforms, sports equipment, and instruction.
  7. Over 300 women and men built their own small businesses that sustain their families. 19 Self-Help Entrepreneurs were in place in 14 project sites for the small business owners to increase their capacity to earn income, increase their self-confidence, and work for social change.

These accomplishments all began as the dreams of small Ethiopian communities. You brought the resources, and you stood strong in the face of the serious challenges that threatened the livelihoods of so many. You gave monthly, or all at once or both. Your hope for better lives for Ethiopia’s poorest families was the thread that linked possibility to progress.

Thank you for an amazing 2016.

In 2017 we will see change, growth, and new opportunities.  In partnership with your commitment, here’s to the hope for a better future for all of Ethiopia.


The Roots Ethiopia Board of Directors


Roots Ethiopia is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working in Africa, specifically helping Southern Ethiopia. Roots Ethiopia supports community identified solutions for job creation and education.

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Growing Minds is Back to Benefit Ethiopian Education!

This post is contributed by Jenna Freed, Member of the Roots Ethiopia 2015 Travel Team.

On April 16th, we are gathering under the stars once again to Light The Path to Brighter Futures in Ethiopia. Our second annual Growing Minds Fundraiser will be a celebration of all that was accomplished at last year’s event and a renewed dedication for all we can do in 2016. The event will be held in Glen Cove on Long Island.


Since the success of last year’s inaugural Growing Minds Event, I’ve been asked many times how I got involved with Roots Ethiopia. The truth of that story is one of gain in a time of great loss for me. It’s a story that I am grateful for every day with circumstances I would never change.

June 6th, 2014 was the day my whole life would be flipped upside down. I lost full use of my right hand, my dominant hand, after a twisted accident involving a glass canister and stairs. After 7 hours of surgery, my surgeon came into the room with the update,

“It’s uncertain what you will be able to do from here out. This is a long term injury.”

I spent the next 6 months in agony going to occupational therapy three times a week for three hours each session and with little improvement as a whole. After a disappointing visit the internationally recognized Philadelphia Hand Center, where they told me I had accomplished more than they would ever expect and that they would advise me to accept where I was at physically, I decided that my daily life needed another focus, a bigger mission, a greater purpose than improving or accepting my hand. I immediately turned my focus to Ethiopia, the birthplace of my daughter and a place that held my heart since my first visit in 2009.

Having admired the work of Roots Ethiopia since its inception and having great respect for Meghan Walsh, I reached out. How would she like it if I were to host a “little event” here in New York and perhaps broaden the reach of Roots Ethiopia? The details were vague, the purpose was BIG and in a moment of great faith from Meghan she jumped behind the idea with the full support of herself and the whole Roots Ethiopia Team!


The night of the event was one of the greatest moments of my life. The little Rec Hall at my children’s school was filled with teachers & administrators who care about children everywhere and were excited to leap with two feet into the mission. There were family members of the Roots Team from all over who were proud of our involvement with this cause. There were friends who have heard us all talk admirably about this great country and its beautiful citizens. The room was filled with sincere intention, beauty, and generosity from every guest. We tripled our fundraising goal and this “little event” became a must-have annual event immediately!

Out of the loss of one hand grew the gathering of hundreds of hands all excited to lift up a community halfway around the world–and lift up we did!

Roots Ethiopia is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working in Africa, specifically helping Southern Ethiopia. Roots Ethiopia supports community identified solutions for job creation and education.

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AME Youth Group in Carrboro, NC Send Seven Girls to School in Ethiopia

My name is Lynn Steinberg and I am the Marketing Director at Roots Ethiopia. I visited Ethiopia two times in 2014. The first visit was with my family and the second visit I was part of the Roots Ethiopia Travel Team. After both of my trips, my oldest daughter Izzy was particularly interested in the young girls who are unable to attend school in Ethiopia due to lack of family resources, early marriage practices, and inadequate sanitation facilities. Here is a picture of Izzy with her sisters at a school in Hosanna, Ethiopia.



For her 11th Birthday, she started an online fundraiser called #3Girls3Futures. Her goal was to send three girls to school, but she had rules. Her main rule was that family could NOT support her efforts. She was adamant that nobody even remotely related to her could donate to her fundraiser. She was determined to do it all on her own. She also would not let me tinker with or edit her words on Razoo which was a huge challenge in control for me! I was also concerned as I know the challenges in raising money, but I encouraged her to do her best, knowing full well that our family would fill in any money that she was unable to raise.

After some hardcore fundraising presses at her school, where she literally asked teachers point blank for money (that’s Izzy), she was able to raise just under $600! For a month or so she was at a standstill and I began to think that we might have to step in. Soon after, the church we attend asked Izzy if the Youth Group could support her fundraiser. The Youth Director helped to organize a cook-off after services on August 1st. Members of the St. Paul AME Church in Carrboro, NC contributed various dishes ranging from baked spaghetti to peach and cranberry pie. Roots Ethiopia supplied rack cards about our various programs and the congregation absolutely LOVED learning about our education efforts in Ethiopia. They especially loved engaging their youth in gaining a global perspective and teaching them that they CAN be a part of progress in the developing world.

Reverend Nixon, Pastor at St. Paul in Carrboro said,

“The St. Paul A.M.E. Church Youth Ministry (Y.P.D.) is proud to support the Roots Ethiopia Program, a program to help raise funds to assist young girls in Ethiopia to attend school. The Y.P.D. (Young Peoples Department) is the Youth Ministry of the AME Church. This fundraiser was led by St. Paul’s youth Izzy Steinberg. I am proud of our youth for their love, compassion, and concern for others.”

In the end, Izzy and the Y.P.D raised enough money to send 7 girls to school in rural Ethiopia! It was an incredible effort that will change the lives of entire families in Ethiopia. Izzy cannot wait to visit another school and learn more about the lives of young Ethiopian girls on her upcoming trip to Ethiopia this October.

Here are some pictures from the event! Please contact Roots Ethiopia if you are interested in getting your Youth Organizations involved in supporting education in the developing world.

Join Roots Ethiopia to Create 30 Businesses in 30 Days!

Each year we run a campaign that adds 30 new small businesses to our Self-Help Entrepreneurs (SHE) network in rural Ethiopia. Over the next 4 weeks, we plan to add 30 new businesses in 30 days. We believe that putting these businesses into action will enable 30 Ethiopian families to end their own poverty. Roots Ethiopia has 211 existing small businesses in rural Ethiopia. It is remarkable!

Support a Business Now!

This year, we are excited for you to meet Zinash. Zinash is a true success story. With the help of Roots Ethiopia, she was able to set up a small roadside shop selling injera. Her business became so successful that she has now added small household items to her shop! She was so proud to show us her business when we visited her last December. Her exhausting days of earning only $1/day fixing roads are a thing of the past.

Zinash told us, “Now I am part of community life again. My children’s minds are free and they go to school without worry.”

Be the first to sponsor a small business in Ethiopia during our 30 businesses in 30 days campaign this year! $325 or $27/month sponsors one coffee shop, market stand, small store, or a bread and tea stand in rural Ethiopia!

Roots Ethiopia is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working in Africa, specifically helping Southern Ethiopia. Roots Ethiopia supports community identified solutions for job creation and education.

Duna Sadicho School in Ethiopia is Funded!

Duna Sadicho School in Ethiopia is officially FUNDED! Phase 1 is complete and students are already using the textbooks that were purchased. Our awesome Program Director, Tilahun, was able to stretch the budget to include SCIENCE supplies for the school (this was not in the original budget!)

The goals of this Learning Resource Project were to equip the library with books, furnish the classrooms with desks and chairs, and provide structural enhancements to the school to provide a safe learning environment. Windows and roof repair will help the children thrive. In addition, schoolyard equipment will provide students with the ‘play’ that they long for!


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There were several sources that contributed to its success and we want to thank them all!

The Snyder Family Razoo fundraiser played an enormous part is funding this school in Ethiopia! Over 50% of the budget was raised through this initiative.

The Vandrovec Family Razoo fundraiser/silent auction. Both of these efforts were an enormous success. The Vandrovec’s went above and beyond to throw together a silent auction on Facebook that yielded incredible results AND it was super fun. We will post more information about how they accomplished this auction very soon!

The Long Island #GrowingMinds event was a huge success and we were able to apply a portion of the money raised towards the Duna Sadicho School in Kembata, Ethiopia. We look forward to sharing updates at the 2016 #GrowingMinds Event on Long Island.

The Roots Ethiopia General Fund contributed a portion of the money needed to complete this project.

We are looking forward to a visit in October when the entire project will be complete and we can see the impact! We are especially interested to see how these resources improve the gender inequality that is present at this rural school in Ethiopia!

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Roots Ethiopia is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working in Africa, specifically helping Southern Ethiopia. Roots Ethiopia supports community identified solutions for job creation and education.

Soccer Jersey Give-Away–Happy New Year!

Roots Ethiopia is celebrating the Ethiopian New Year and the Ethiopian Soccer Team win against Central Africa with an Ethiopian Soccer Jersey Giveaway!

Roots Ethiopia is going to celebrate New Year’s with a JERSEY GIVE-AWAY! Everyone who donates to ANY of our projects for ANY amount will be entered into the draw. We will host a random draw using on Saturday, September 14th at 9 P.M. Central.   So come on, win this beautiful jersey! (Adult L, Adidas tags, if you know shirt sizes in Ethiopia, this is more like an adult S and/or a children’s XL).

You can donate on our secure server HERE for any of our 3 core programs (IGA’s, School Sponsorships, and our General Fund). You can also donate HERE for our special project in Amacho Wato. Choose your favorite program and don’t wait — you have one week!


Do you want to learn more about the Ethiopian New Year?

September 11, 2013. Ethiopian New Year, also called Enkutatash or Ri’se Awde Amet, is a significant holiday for Ethiopians.  New Year’s Eve is sometimes spent attending the church or mosque.

On New Year’s Day, there is much celebrating, good food, family, and neighborhood friendliness. If a family can, they will purchase new clothes for their children. The children will get together and go from home to home singing and collecting coins (birr). The girls sing in groups during the day, followed by groups of boys on New Year’s night.

Evening ends with coffee and children who have spent their coins on candy at the local suk.  The holiday occurs on September 11 in the Gregorian calendar, except for the year before each Western Leap Year, when it occurs on September 12.



Thank you to everyone who supported this campaign. We appreciate your support of our program and of Ethiopia’s national soccer team!