Al Boogard, EEF Volunteer

"My visit to Ethiopia began as a dream several years ago, something to expand my life experience after retirement.  I could not have begun to imagine how life changing my time at the Ethiopian Education Foundation (EEF) hostel would be.

From the moment my friend Greg and I arrived at the Bole airport in Addis Ababa, we were involved in the lives of students.  We were picked up by taxi, accompanied by lovely two grade 11 students, who brought us to our new home.  50 plus students, all hand picked based on strict selection criteria, who welcomed us and allowed us into their lives.

A short time after our arrival at the hostel, we were offered the traditional Ethiopian Coffee ceremony, which is a communal way of being together as well as enjoying perhaps the best coffee I have ever tasted.  This weekly tradition continued throughout our stay.

A schedule was drawn up weekly, and we were able to tutor these high school students in areas where they were looking for assistance, primarily English.

What amazed me most was how quickly many of these students allowed us into their lives.  Within days, one student took us to his home where he lived with his mother, father and siblings.  Other students took us to various sites in Addis Ababa, including the National Museum of Ethiopia, Menelik II palace on Mount Entoto, their school “School of Tomorrow”, visits to their local church and several long walks.  There was a genuine enthusiasm on the part of these students to make our experience as rich as possible.

Perhaps the most rewarding part of our experience was how vulnerable our students allowed themselves to be with us.  I was genuinely moved a number of times as they shared their stories, their realities, and their dreams.

EEF has given these students hope and a future, which is not only an investment in the individual students but also in the developing country of Ethiopia.

I cannot say enough about this volunteer experience.  I was so happy to help these students in their journeys, and at the risk of sounding trite I would also add that I have no doubt I received more than I gave.

I highly recommend EEF as a volunteer opportunity for someone who is interested in helping a developing country move forward, and who is willing to invest in the lives of bright, engaging young students in Ethiopia."