Meet Ruhama!

When the Roots Ethiopia field staff first met Ruhama, she was working for a road construction company lifting heavy materials. With no parents to care for them, Ruhama and her brother and sister were struggling to survive on their own.  Ruhama wanted to attend school, but regular attendance wasn’t possible. Despite her desire to achieve and learn, Ruhama worried whether a difficult childhood and so many demands on her to take care of her family’s needs would assure she would always be poor and without the education.

Today, with the help of Roots Ethiopia’s School Sponsorship program, Ruhama attends 9th grade. She and her older brother still work to support the family, but the support Roots Ethiopia provides means Ruhama attends school daily.  Your support means Ruhama’s school fees are paid, her school supplies and a new set of clothes, shoes, and a uniform are ready for the start of every school year. Ruhama’s family also receives food support 3x a year.

It’s a challenge for a 15-year-old to balance work, taking care of family, and school. Ruhama is tremendously ambitious and driven. She says, “Even though life is difficult for me living in the countryside, Roots Ethiopia’s support helps me to continue my education and move me toward my dreams. No one can stop me from making my dream of education come true.”

You are making such great strides, Ruhama! Keep up the great work!

Meet Adaneche: Our Latest Self-Help Entrepreneur (SHE) Rock Star

It takes power to stand up for yourself. And knowledge. How do you self-advocate if you don’t have access to the tools needed to improve your life? How do you reach self-reliance? And, finally, it takes a community having your back. Do like-minded community members see your potential and your struggle? Do they believe in you? Continue reading “Meet Adaneche: Our Latest Self-Help Entrepreneur (SHE) Rock Star”

Meet Barkot – a smart young student with an exciting future ahead of her!

We are so excited for you to meet Barkot Alemu,  a 14 year old girl whose name means “Blessing the World”. What a perfect name for a  shining star in her 8th grade class at Mugunja Primary School in rural Ethiopia. Barkot is the top student in her class, and she’s an amazing leader among girls and students in her village.  Continue reading “Meet Barkot – a smart young student with an exciting future ahead of her!”

A special boy is headed to school this Fall!

Sometimes we get to witness amazing stories. Today is one of those days. We celebrate this sweet boy, now fitted with an adaptive wheelchair, who will join the Special Education classroom in Halaba in September. He will FINALLY attend school — something he has dreamed about for so long! Continue reading “A special boy is headed to school this Fall!”

Ethiopia Benefits from a Huge Heart that Valued Education

The Mugunja Primary School Project in Ethiopia is a Learning Resource Project that was donated in honor of lost loved ones who inspired their family to look outside of themselves to find organizations that are committed to sustainable impacts in education.

Robin Zecca remembers her Father, Jack Rubin as an extremely dignified, typical business executive who lived in his suit. His top priority was education and he raised his three kids to be to citizens of world. Growing up, Robin’s house was filled with books, magazines, and newspapers. Robin and her siblings, Michael and Pamela, were expected to read every single day and college just was something that had to happen. There were no exceptions. Robin remembers lively dinner conversations about important topics from a very young age. Politics, current events, global issues and foreign policy were all discussed on a regular basis and Jack and his wife Dian expected his children to be globally minded.

Robin stressed her Father’s HUGE HEART! She remembers her Father always handing out paper money to anyone in need. He joked that giving loose change was undignified. Jack Rubin was born in Manhattan, New York, the child of two immigrants from Poland. He dreamed of going to Medical School but that was unaffordable for his family, so his brother-in-law paid for Jack’s Chiropractic School. Jack opened his office in an underserved community where no one could pay him. That was fine with him. In fact, he never asked for payment and felt very uncomfortable taking money from any of his patients. That worked for just fine for a while, but then his daughter Robin was born and it was time to support a family. However, the desire to give never went away. In the 1980’s when babies were being born in NYC addicted to crack, he would volunteer at local hospitals to simply hold and comfort the struggling babies. Jack also started a a program while he was a Pharmaceutical Executive that expedited getting medicine to the people who couldn’t afford them in the United States or abroad. In fact, this is how he met his best friend, Ramesh. Jack was instrumental in sending cancer drugs to his friend’s sick daughter in India.

After to speaking with Robin, it’s clear that her Father’s biggest success went far beyond the boardroom. He was a wonderful husband to her Mother Dian, who died three years before him, incredible Father and doting Grandfather. Jack had four grandchildren who he treated with extreme kindness, generosity and equality. Robin told us about his special bond with her daughter, adopted from Ethiopia. Robin’s daughter once told her that she was “adopted just for him.”

Her Mother Dian was very interested in exposing her children to the arts. Robin remember numerous trips to the Guggenheim in New York City as a child and describes her Mother as teaching her the importance in exposing children to multiculturalism. Dian was always looking for books, toys and dolls that looked like Robin’s daughter Mimi, who was adopted from Ethiopia. If she didn’t find what she was looking for, she would always approach the owner/manager and explain the importance to of selling multicultural items to the store manager.


When I asked Robin what questions her parents would likely ask about The Mugunja Primary School she told me that all they would care about was that the school got everything it needed so the kids could feel safe and happy. Robin said they would tell the kids at the school to simply be the best they can be. The entire family is 100% behind this school and trusts Roots Ethiopia to implement the educational resources in a manner that respects and responds to cultural needs. Robin and her siblings hope that by sharing their story, they will raise awareness for the work that Roots Ethiopia is doing to improve education in Southern Ethiopia. We have no doubt that it will!

Top 10 Photography Skills for Travelers to Ethiopia

Contributed by Lauren Werner, our Board Member, photographer, and public health specialist.

Lauren’s Vision: To see the end of poverty in rural Ethiopia.

1. Ask permission to take a picture before you take it. This can be a verbal request or a simple non-verbal acknowledgement. “Photo, yichalal?” is the perfect way to ask.

2. Change up your subject matter. If you gravitate toward landscape, be bold and ask permission to take a portrait. If you prefer people pictures, turn to a house, animal, or sky for new inspiration.

3. Use your voice. Ask yourself what are you trying to say with the image you are making?

4. Selfie, and not selfie. You are “present” in every image, but you only need to be physically “in” a few to make your collection meaningful.

5. Watch the lighting. Early morning and late afternoon light have the least amount of glare and contrast on sunny days. Full sun too bright for your subject matter? Find a shade tree or shadow of a building to take the picture. Cloud cover is your friend.

6. Privacy: Sensitive subjects abound, and are highly visible at times, in Ethiopia. If you take a picture of someone in a vulnerable place, such as abject poverty or extreme illness, consider how that person would feel being portrayed that way to others.

7. Animals make great subjects, but they can move quickly, I have one too many close-ups of a cow nostril.

8. Combine posed images with spontaneous ones for a more realistic representation of Ethiopian life. Capture the movement in a whole marketplace along with individual sellers.

9. If you take a picture of a person, and want to show it to them on the spot, know that it can start a beautiful moment of sharing that can turn overwhelming in an instant. Have a plan to move on if this happens, with a smile and a wave.

10.Share wisely. Facebook is a great way to connect your photos to the world. Share what is appropriate. Facebook owns everything you post. Need a private way to share? Consider Flickr. They don’t own your images, and you can choose how you share them.

NOTE: Lauren’s amazing work can be seen on our social media sites and occasionally during special fundraising events, such as Story of Hope, and Light from the Horn of Africa. Contact us if you’d like us to bring a photography show to your community!

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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