Shortly after we arrived in Addis Ababa, we visited the Mary Joy Aid Through Development Association. This local non-profit reaches out to orphans and the elderly in the surrounding neighborhoods, all of whom are struggling either due to a health crisis (often HIV/AIDS), the loss of the family breadwinner, or some other tragedy. Mary Joy staff and volunteers provide a remarkable array of services: they educate communities about AIDS prevention and other health issues, “peer mothers” act as parental stand-ins for children who have no one to advocate for them, and so much more.
We were introduced to the Mary Joy Association by Maya Haile Samuelsson, a member of the ONEMoms team. Maya, a model and philanthropist who lives in New York with her husband, chef Marcus Samuelsson, was born in Ethiopia, and has acted as our cultural guide. (This Gourmet article will give you a bit more background about Maya, and here’s her post for the ONE blog.) Maya and Marcus sponsor 10 children through Mary Joy, providing support for their education and care.
We were greeted with flowers, music, a coffee ceremony…and dancing. Lots of dancing!
Our visit to Mary Joy left me with two impressions: the great need for help, and the great leadership and community support rising to provide it. This was a place of hope. I was inspired by the energy and ingenuity of the community leaders who work every day to expand Mary Joy’s offerings and reach.
Mary Joy is a local program — it does not receive international aid as many of the programs we’ll be learning about do. But it is an example of the kind of creative problem-solving and real change happening in organizations across Ethiopia and other parts of the world.
If you’d like to learn about how to sponsor a child, Mary Joy would love to hear from you. You can sponsor a child for any amount, but full sponsorship (healthcare, education, clothing, a home to live in and a little recreation) costs about $1 per day. What if your child’s classroom did a fundraiser to sponsor a child in Ethiopia? Contact Mary Joy to find out more.
I’ve posted more pictures of our time at Mary Joy (there are so many beauties) plus a sound clip describing my dancing adventure at Parent Hacks: ONEMoms in Ethiopia: Celebrating at Mary Joy.
From October 6-13, 2012, the ONEMoms will post daily dispatches from Ethiopia.Visit the ONEMoms website to read posts from all the bloggers, follow the #ONEMoms hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, and like the ONEMoms Facebook page.
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Asha Dornfest is the co-author of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less and the publisher of Parent Hacks, a site crammed with tips for making family life easier.