Separated from the troubles of our home by distance and time, it is easy to slip into a pattern of complacency and dream of changes for the land that gave birth to us. Where too many dream of fanciful transformations, there are some who dare to put on their boots and work for the change they want to see of this world. Demisew Getaneh is the latter; born in Gonder Ethiopia, he decided to invest sweat equity back home and is helping to change the lives of many through his non-profit “Take Care of Home”.
Not one to seek the spotlight, Demisew and his team have been on the ground in Ethiopia for the past five years building up communities by improving the conditions of schools. The journey from sideline observer to frontline change maker started for Demisew when he traveled to his hometown in 2014 for three months. To his dismay, he noticed that the condition of his elementary school had not changed an iota since 1991. It was as though the school was stuck in a time capsule; instead of upgrades, Demisew only saw deterioration—the building and the classroom resources were in a state of dilapidation.
Something clicked for Demisew during this visit to Gonder; he saw possibilities whereas before his trip to Ethiopia he was cocooned in frustration. Always one to be a catalyst for change, he and his friends tried in the past to raise funds for Ethiopian causes only to be met with a dearth of enthusiasm. But upon seeing the state of schools in Gonder and beyond, Demisew stopped waiting for big changes to arrive and made the decision to be the change himself.
Demisew’s epiphany led to “Take Care of Home”, a non-profit that matches donor contributions to school improvements back home. What became evident over the years is that Ethiopians will gladly pitch in and contribute when they see their money is being put to work. Since 2014, Take Care of Home has raised a total of $93,000, upgraded four schools throughout Ethiopia and helped, directly or indirectly, more than 2,700 students. What Demisew realized along the way is that we become what we focus our energies on.If we are stuck in frustration, all we will see are events that rationalize our dour mood, but if we act in faith, anything is possible. cc @d_getaneh #Ethiopia #TakeCareOfHome Click To Tweet
What we take for granted here in America can have a transformational change for our people back home; a price of coffee at Starbucks can feed a child for a week, a mortgage payment can help street child become a doctor one day. What Demisew understood is the value of action instead of reacting to the whims of other people. A simple act of kindness that started when he gave $100 to his elementary school in hopes of upgrading the library turned into an organization that is improving the lives of many Ethiopians and has become a conduit for countless Ethiopians to give back to their birth land.
“Our goal with Take Care of Home, is always to emphasis that someone like me and you, who live a simple life, can change the world, one kid and one school at a time. We do not need to be millionaires or celebrities to make a positive financial difference.”
We keep waiting for change to come from the top and agitating for a new day as if society will transform if only we raise the decibel enough. However, history has shown that the most profound changes occur not through popular movements but through imperceptible acts of kindness. Demisew and his peers at Take Care of Home are a perfect embodiment of what can happen when audacious thinking meets humble toil. Too often, our minds are captivated by news of the outlandish and matters of banality, but if we step back from the commotion, we would see dedicated Ethiopians like Demisew who are determined to change Ethiopia not by gestures but through hard work.
Going forward, we will be spotlighting Ethiopians at home and abroad who are driven to make a difference for the communities where they live and to give back to Ethiopia. At the end of this year, we will have an event where we recognize a group of finalists in person and award them for the hard work they are doing. If you have other Ethiopians, young or elders, who are making a difference for our people and our homeland, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and include their picture, a short bio and why you think that person should be spotlighted.