2010 – Ann Low

Washington, DC, September 26, 2010

Dear Jo,

It has been nine months since Patrick (age 15), Kody (age 14) and I joined you doing deliveries for the Ethiopian Food Appeal.  I had hoped the trip would make the boys more appreciative of their relative wealth and more empathetic.  The trip had those effects and more.  It changed their academic interests and opened their eyes to the real impact of global events and conditions.  Thank you.

Since our return, my boys, hitherto exclusive readers of fantasy, have read books on the history of Ethiopia and Christianity and on development economics and social justice. They want to find answers as to why Ethiopia is poor while the United States and Europe are rich.  They want to understand how an advanced civilization got left behind when the West industrialized.  The boys were uncomfortable with the Ethiopian children begging for pens, but that experience sparked their interest in incentives and caused them to question what is moral.  Is it better to give a pen to a poor child who begs or to withhold that pen, so you don’t reward the act of begging?

As you may surmise, since our trip to Ethiopia, our dinner conversations have become more interesting; and more importantly, the boys no longer see schoolwork and academic reading as drudgery but as a means to understand their world and improve it.

{mosimage}We were amazed to see the direct, positive impact that the Ethiopian Food Appeal had on the two schools we supported.  The new classroom buildings were bright and clean and absolutely essential to alleviate crowding.

Having never before counted out a 1,000 of anything, it was  great to deliver the 1,000 bags of school supplies to the children and see how much each bag was needed and appreciated.  At the same time, it was a shock to realize that the two pens, two pencils and six notebooks in each bag might be all the school supplies each child had for the year.

I was struck by the children’s enthusiasm and desire to learn, despite their school’s lack of electricity and running water and their own shabby clothing.  Your decision to give each child a new shirt and each family a bag of flour affirmed the dignity of the children and recognized each family’s sacrifice to send their children to school.  I was also impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the teachers despite their large classes (some with 50 children), almost complete lack of educational materials, and arduous daily trek to reach the isolated rural schools.

I imagine the impact of our Ethiopian trip will continue to unfold in the months and years to come.  It opened our eyes to the extreme disparity in living conditions – as if we live on two different planets – and the powerful impact of a well run charity.

Jo, thank you for your herculean efforts on behalf of the Ethiopian children, and thank you to everyone who contributed to the Ethiopian Food Appeal.  You and your team of volunteers make every contribution yield the maximum possible benefit to those in need.  I hope we will have the opportunity to join you on a future trip and in the meantime, we will continue to contribute to the Ethiopian Food Appeal.

Best wishes,

Ann, Patrick and Kody Low