Planned Giving: Why Your Will Matters and Can Do Great Good in Ethiopia

Hello dear friends and supporters of Roots Ethiopia. While August was National Make a Will Month, it’s not too late to think about estate planning, and in particular, planned giving. Let’s talk about creating a will and how it can make a lasting impact on the lives of children and communities you care so much about in Ethiopia. Continue reading “Planned Giving: Why Your Will Matters and Can Do Great Good in Ethiopia”

Enjoy Weezer & Improve Schools!

In May of 2018, legendary rock and roll band, Weezer, released a cover of Toto’s famous song, “Africa.” Shortly after, they created and sold “Bless the Rains” t-shirts and donated all of their profits to Roots Ethiopia!

We LOVE Weezer and we think the feeling is mutual. And we want to SHARE THAT LOVE in 2019!

Weezer and Roots Ethiopia have teamed up again to create a better, brighter future for families and children in Ethiopia. With help from Weezer, we’ve gotten our hands on a few RARE items you can’t find anywhere else…

  • 4 VIP Tickets to the Weezer & Pixies Concert! Sunday, March 31 at 7 p.m. at the Alliant Energy Center Coliseum in Madison, Wis.
  • 1 Fender Squier Bullet Strat Guitar Autographed by Rivers Cuomo, Pat Wilson, Scott Shriner and Brian Bell of Weezer.
  • 4 Africa/Rosanna Green Vinyl 7” Limited Edition Records. 
  • 4 “Bless the Rains” T-Shirts (which are currently sold out on Weezer’s website!)

Starting March 4 and before 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 11, 2019, place your silent auction bid so that you and three of your friends can enjoy this legendary Weezer experience. 100% of the proceeds will go to Roots Ethiopia’s programming.

The winning bid will be notified by March 12, 2019!



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.

New Office in Addis Ababa!

Two of our leadership team members from the USA are with our Ethiopian team in Addis Ababa this week. Welcome to the Roots Ethiopia office in Addis! It’s a very productive space with so much good work happening.

Lots of meeting about the nuts and bolts of getting the work done efficiently and cost-effectively over the next three years. Meetings, reports, numbers, and more meetings.


But it’s also Ethiopia. So thank goodness for BUNA!

Families Devastated by El Niño Floods in Ethiopia

There is an emergency of massive proportions for villages in Southern Ethiopia that are already impoverished and vulnerable. 

Over 80% of Ethiopians rely on rain-fed agriculture for their daily lives. This past year of drought has caused devastating losses. Now, extensive and damaging floods in Ethiopia have come just after the worst drought in decades. El Niño weather patterns have left many Ethiopian families needing immediate aid in order to survive.


(Woman in Halaba Kulito who lost all her household materials, May 2016)

Food is a fundamental pillar of basic survival, and today grain and cooking oil are priorities for local families. We are joining Ethiopia and partner aid organizations by directly giving grain and cooking oil to families in Hadiya and Halaba zones. Your $50 donation will feed one Ethiopian family for one month during this critical time.

Better days are ahead, but we can’t get there without your commitment. Your donations will move quickly as our expert team is already preparing food support as part of a community-wide coalition of emergency relief.

Families need food support immediately.


The floods in Ethiopia have displaced roughly 5,000 families in Hadiya and Halaba in the last month. Farmers had just planted their fields for a long-awaited harvest, and now their farmland is under water and crops are ruined. Rains have destroyed household materials, drought-weakened livestock have perished in great numbers, and food supplies have been lost. This is a crushing crisis.

Give to our general fund so communities remain strong, healthy, and together as they work to rebuild what was lost. $50 feeds one Ethiopian family for one month. Thousands of families need your help immediately.


(Location of current Flood Relief work for Roots Ethiopia)

While we respond to this crisis, know that Roots Ethiopia’s ongoing work in communities is making a real difference for families and children. In Hadiya and Alaba, we continue to support the core project work to help families and communities stay strong as they recover from the crisis. In addition, projects in Kembata Tembaro and Wolayta continue to grow and strengthen.

Snapshot of our project work – making a real difference:

  • 175 children enrolled in our school sponsorship program.
  • Over 500 small businesses (IGA’s) created for families.
  • 12 regional schools improved with resources and 4 more in development.

*Note: The El Niño effect this year is the strongest on record, and the scale of the crisis has meant Ethiopia and partner aid organizations have made extensive efforts to help during this ongoing crisis. Flooding from belg (Spring) rains has displaced over 120,000 people countrywide. Nearly 1/2 million people have been affected in some way, and an estimated 200,000 people have lost their homes. Somali, Oromia, SNNPR, Afar, Amhara, and Harar Regions have been particularly affected. Continued rains are expected, and more damage is sure to follow (Source: UN Office For the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).

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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Roots Ethiopia Expands Deeper into Southern Ethiopia

Our Alaba (aka Halaba) outreach site is Roots Ethiopia’s 15th outreach site in Southern Ethiopia! Our local leaders have identified Alaba, a unique Ethiopian region, as being an area in great need of educational improvements and job creation.

What makes Alaba so unique?

According to Desta Seyoum, Roots Ethiopia Board Member and local expert,

Alaba is a small region adjacent to the Kembata and Hadiya zones in Southern Ethiopia. Alaba has a special administrative status with a direct accountability to the regional government in Awassa. It used to be part of the Kembata-Temabro zone, but is no longer part of any zone. It is autonomous, and can be compared to the District Of Columbia in the United States. The Alaba people speak the Kembata language or dialect they refer to as Alabisaa. They are predominantly Muslims, and have a distinct culture of their own. Most families live in round-shaped huts with thatched roofs normally made of wood and mud. Many families share the huts with livestock.  The area looks forward to working with Roots Ethiopia to improve economic and educational conditions.

When an outreach site is approved what happens?

Once the Roots Ethiopia Board of Directors approves a new outreach site, a grant is dedicated to developing the community outreach center in the area. Our skilled program leaders support local leaders to begin selection of children and families for our programs. In Alaba, our local team has already selected students for sponsorship AND has organized IGA’s and SHG’s (Income Generating Activities and Self Help Groups). 10 children and 20 women are ready to get started with school and small business entrepreneurship. The Alaba team will grow, as the site is developed responsibly with full inclusion in all of our staff training and in the quarterly roundtable discussions at our Hosanna, Ethiopia headquarters.

Alaba is Roots Ethiopia’s 15th Community Outreach Site in Ethiopia. Our other sites are in Angecha, Areka, Bonosha, Doyogena, Gimbichu, Hadero, two in Hosanna, Jajura, Shinshicho, Shone, and two in Sodo. Our work is in 3 zones plus the special woreda, Alaba.  Here is a map for your reference!


GIVE to our general fund in 2016. Recurring donations (for as little as $21/month) allow us to expand, while maintaining the quality of our existing program work in 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.

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