“We are promoting literacy…”
– Allen Habtamu, Finance officer for The Ethiopian American Youth Initiative (Philadelphia Branch)
The facts are overwhelming. The literacy rate is estimated to be 42% percent in Ethiopia, 99% of schools have no books and 44% of the population lives in poverty. Young and driven, Ellal Aklilu and Allen Habtamu are hoping to change that and they just might.
Ellal and Allen, both from Pennsylvania, are part of The Ethiopian American Youth Initiative – a nonprofit organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The organization has branches in Boston, Massachusetts, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. Through The Ethiopian American Youth Initiative, Ellal and Allen are taking part in a book drive that plans to raise books for colleges, universities, and libraries in Ethiopia. The organization’s goal is to raise over 30,000 books by mid-June 2010. The book drive, which began in late July of this year, has so far collected over 600 books.
With dreams of working in the construction field in Ethiopia, Ellal sees the book drive as a means of ending poverty. “I saw how Ethiopians depend on foreign aid and if we can get books, this can end the cycle of poverty.” Ellal is currently a sophomore at Villanova University in Pennsylvania studying to be a Mechanical Engineer. He encourages the youth to be part of the book drive and to “do something positive for Ethiopia.”
Allen attends Central high school in Pennsylvania and stresses that any books can be donated in addition to textbooks. “We are promoting literacy so we need books for enjoyment as well.” Allen also sees the book drive as a way of ending poverty. “Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and will benefit the country.” An aspiring lawyer, Allen encourages not only the youth but also adults to help. “When we get together we can get lots of things accomplished.”
Ellal and Allen would like to express their gratitude to the following people for their generous help and support:
Tina Chang, Washington D.C.
Alemayehu Fentaw, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Nikodimos Fikru, Washington D.C.
Go Funai, Washington D.C.
Dr. Aklilu Gebrewold
Mahlet Girma, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Gojjo Ethiopian Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA
Addisu Habte, Philadelphia, PA
Jakes Pizzeria, Philadelphia, PA
Dr. Fikre Tolessa, Los Angeles, CA