Sunday, September 14, 2008

Meet Richard

This is our friend, Richard. He is a 17 year old hard working and bright young man who is presently studying in Lalibela. Richard left his family, who live 40 km. away, to study in Lalibela. It's a struggle for Richard to pursue his dream of education - he has no assistance from his family who, like many Ethiopian farmers, meagerly subsist on farming and herding. Richard hopes to become a doctor. He dreams of being a professional man with the means to help the people of his country. This young man deserves his chance - and everything he does is focused on figuring out just HOW to make his dream come true. Richard shines shoes every day. He charges a mere 10cents on the roadside to shine shoes. He is lucky if he gets 2-3 customers a day. With an unemployment rate of about 45% in Ethiopia, this sort of enterprise is often the only option for many young men. Richard lives in a little tukul (hut) with no running water or electricity for the price of $6.50 month. He sleeps on the ground of the tukul with a worn tarp as his "mattress." At the time we met him he did not have a blanket to cover him as he slept. Teague recalled we had travel blankets in our backpacks and we made haste to deliver him a blanket for warmth and comfort. Richard cooks his daily food rations on a tiny kerosene camp stove. His meals consist of grain only- 2 servings a day.
Richard sent us his exam scores - he scanned and e-mailed them along with a plea to help him continue his higher education in Addis Ababa. There is no way for him to go forward without help - he needs tuition ($550 a year) and also room and board in Addis (estimated at $1000 for the year). There are thousands of young men and women like Richard. I know a few of them. How can we help them? How do we choose who to help? How do we empower and still ask for accountability?
Oh yeah, this is my birthday post. I have too much. Too many others have too little. I don't want gifts. I want Richard to have a chance to go to school.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am right there with you Meghan, although right now I have no idea how to actually bring something to fruition on a broader scale, I would whole heartedly love to come up with some sort of framework to make this a reality for Richard and many more in Ethiopia. What have you come up with so far??!